Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

May 15, 1957

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

I have no announcements this morning.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, Malcolm S. Forbes is running for the Republican candidate for Governor of New Jersey. Are you going to do anything in his behalf? Are you going to make any statement--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the point

Q. Mr. Smith: --of endorsement for him?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the point has not come up whatsoever to me. But I have known Mr. Forbes in the past, and I think he is a very fine gentleman, and certainly it would seem natural for me to say a word in his behalf, if I got a chance.

Q. Thomas N. Schroth, Congressional Quarterly: The roll call votes in Congress so far this year show that the Democrats are supporting your program more than the Republicans.

Do you intend now or as the '58 elections approach to punish those Republicans who are not supporting your program or to reward those who do support you?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think it is the function of a President of the United States to punish anybody for voting what he believes.

Q. John L. Steele, Time Magazine: Sir, Republican Senators Clifford Case, Cooper, Javits, Bush, and some others have steadfastly supported your program, most particularly the budget, and in doing so they put themselves at times at odds with the Senate Republican leadership.

I wonder, sir, if you have any particular plans or new plans to work with them or through them to gain enactment of your program.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't see how it is possible for any President to work with the Republican group in Congress, the whole Republican group, except through their elected leadership.

Now, this doesn't mean that in special cases and for special purposes you don't, but always with the knowledge of the leadership, see people and try to influence them in your direction. If they are already influenced in your direction, why, of course, it is easier to work with them.

Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: There is a story on Capitol Hill, sir, that the Military Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee has cut your defense budget on a tentative decision, by about two and a half billion dollars overall. Would you give us your reaction to that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Lawrence, first of all, I think the Defense Department pointed out that in their new appropriations that they could take a cut of, I believe it was, about a half billion because of their ability to do with somewhat less carryover, shortened lead time. But if the committee can go beyond that and find two billion dollars in an honest cut on the Defense Department, then I want to see how it is done.

I have been in this business, as all of you know, a good many years, starting here in the War Department in 1927; and I think I have studied these matters as seriously as anybody else and, certainly, with the keen desire to save the taxpayers' money as well as to have an adequate defense.

If we are going to trifle with this defense on that basis, now, we are going to be in trouble somewhere along the line.

Now, on the other hand, I have not seen this bill of which you speak or this mark-up of which you speak, and it is possible that there is some meaning in it of which I know nothing. But if it is possible to do anything like this, then I am going to be educated again, that's all, because I don't see how they can do it.

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Mr. President, some Republicans in Congress say that they think you have grown less conservative, moved somewhat to the left, since 1952. Do you, yourself, feel that such a change has taken place in your political philosophy?

THE PRESIDENT. Far from it. If anything, I think I have grown more conservative.

I have the same concern that other people do about the very great growth of the money that is necessary to meet the national programs that have been enacted into law and that we are now supporting.

As I pointed out last night, there are $26 billion going into that. Well that is a lot of people taken out of productive work. It is a lot of money that goes into the purchasing power without producing goods that can be bought with that money and, therefore, tends toward inflation in our economy.

Now, always I have said I believed in sound fiscal policies, preserving the value of the dollar in the interests of all of us, particularly the men and women who must live on pensions and Government bonds and all of that sort of thing in their old age.

I am absolutely against trifling with our financial integrity, and I believe that all of these programs must be studied very, very carefully to see that we are not taking on more of a load than is good for the whole country.

At the same time, I thoroughly believe that any modern political philosophy that fails to study carefully the needs of the people today, not of 1860, of today: what do they need, by the complications that have arisen in our industrial life, in our economy; how are they going to get along; how are they going to take care of themselves in their old age; what happens if they are disabled and can't work for five months or so?

I believe the Federal Government cannot shut its eyes to these things. No matter how much it tries to work through States and get these responsibilities assumed by the States and the localities; it must assume some leadership.

I believe that unless a modern political group does look these problems in the face and finds some reasonable solution, sticking as nearly as possible to the theory of the limited powers in the central government, then in the long run we are sunk; and that, I say, I have become more and more convinced, as I see the amount of money grow and grow in that regard. And I believe, therefore, I am more conservative than otherwise since 1952.

Q. William McGaffin, Chicago Daily News: Sir, how do you account for the fact that your own party leadership in Congress is in disagreement with you on the sum requested for the budget? Senator Knowland, for instance, after your speech last night still says, I believe, that, I think about $3 billion can be cut out of the budget.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have always insisted to you people and everybody else that any budget that predicts expenditures really two years in advance--this study of the budget starts long before it goes to the Congress, and it is worked on until the last minute, but at the very minimum it predicts expenditures eighteen months in advance.

When these large sums are involved, there comes a chance right along for both the Executive and the Congress to do a squeezing process; and, likewise, you sometimes find you have underestimated, as witness all of the deficiency bills that go to the Congress each spring.

But there is some squeezing possible. And I have never kicked about that. In fact, I have encouraged it. And people say I am deserting my own budget because I have encouraged it. I am a long ways from deserting my own budget because it is what I insist every week, in every Cabinet meeting and every Security Council meeting, that is one thing we must do, see whether we can squeeze out some more in administrative expenses.

Now, when they go to the sums of which you are now speaking, then I don't know exactly what they mean. Possibly they are calculating on abolishing some one of the major programs or a group of the smaller programs in our country, I don't know. But I just don't see how it is done, and I have no explanation for it.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland ( Maine ) Press Herald: There is a good deal of interest over the weekend analysis of how the Battle of Gettysburg was fought. Now, you, looking back on the Second World War, do you see any major thing that you think the Allies could have done differently?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, well, yes, of course, all the time but no one knows the answer. It is awfully hard to quarrel, Mrs. Craig, with victory. And as long as one plan brought victory in a thing that is so serious as war, it is pretty hard to prove that another plan would have brought it earlier.

Now, I just want to take a word about this quarrel. I think there are a good many of you people here, both photographers and representatives of the press, who have been going into my office for the past four and a half years, occasionally. No doubt you have noticed that on the walls there are prints of four men, men that I consider in my book are about the four top Americans of the past. They are Franklin, Washington, Lincoln, and Lee, and anybody who ever tries to put me in any other relationship with respect to General Lee is mistaken. [Laughter]

Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Mr. President, in your recent speech to the Republicans at Louisville, you predicted the Republicans would make gains in the congressional seats and in the governorships in the South. I should think your reference to Lee wouldn't hurt any.

I wanted to know, sir, whether in view of your position in favor of limited Government, Federal Government, your advocacy of the civil rights bill would hurt the Republican chances of winning more seats in the South.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, I don't believe, in the long run, and in its study, that it will, because the civil rights bill is a very moderate thing, done in all decency and in a simple attempt to study the matter, see where the Federal responsibilities lie, and to move in strict accordance with the Supreme Court's decision, and no faster and no further.

Q. Mr. van der Linden: Sir, you know the southerners objected to the jury trial.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I know that, but, as a matter of fact, I am not enough of a lawyer to discuss that thing one way or the other.

I do know that the Federal courts must not--I mean, their dignity and their position and prestige must be upheld. But I am not going to talk about that matter. You will have to go to the Attorney General. He knows more about it than I do.

Q. John Scali, Associated Press: Secretary Dulles said yesterday that Siberia, the Arctic, and northern Canada might be the most likely spot to begin a limited arms inspection agreement with the Russians. He went on to say that this was his and the State Department's view, and that this was not yet a governmental position.

Could you tell us what you think of this idea, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it is not a governmental position, for the simple reason that this whole matter is under the most earnest study. The mere fact that the Soviets have indicated they might be interested instantly throws it into the study place, and just exactly where you might end up, and what might be the extent of the territory, I couldn't possibly predict.

Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. Dave Beck, who is president of the Teamsters and who boasted of his close ties with your Administration, the White House and yourself, is in some trouble.

Now that the Senate investigations committee has revealed collusive relationships between Mr. Beck and officials of Anheuser Busch, Fruehauf Trailer, and other employers, would you give us, sir, your judgment as to the importance of a code of ethics for employers such as has already been issued and created by the AFL-CIO?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it must have taken you about an hour to write that question. [Laughter]

You are entering a field that is both philosophical in a way, and it is a very difficult one, and it is certainly sensitive from the political standpoint.

Now, I don't know why your question had to be premised with some statement that I am particularly close friends with any particular labor leader. There have been many labor leaders in the White House who have called on me; there have been many labor leaders invited there even socially. Mr. Beck has been one of them.

This affair has come up; I leave the affair completely to the investigating authorities now. In the meantime, the Secretary of Labor and I follow them very closely to see whether out of them there evolves some thought or idea where we should take the lead in making recommendations to Congress. But I believe that both the Congress and the Executive will be interested in trying to find some way that the rights, the interests of laboring people, men and women that produce the wealth of the country, will be protected.

Q. Louis R. Lautier, National Negro Press Association: I have been requested to ask this question: Would you comment on the extent to which the Civil Air Patrol program is open to all the people without discrimination and, as an auxiliary of the Air Force, do you think it should seek recruits from all segments of the population?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, my contact with the Civil Air Patrol goes back to the beginning of World War II when I was Operations Officer of the War Department.

I found them a very splendid organization. They were completely a volunteer organization, but there was a law which provided that the Air Force in carrying out its missions could utilize this group which, so far as I know, was organized according to its own rules and under its own bylaws. And I think into those things the War Department, as it then was, at least, never inquired. I guess we thought it was none of our business.

Now, I do know at the present time the Air Force is allowed to give small amounts of time and, I believe, facilities to help these people in their training. Maybe to that extent you can say the Federal Government enters into this. But it is still a voluntary organization, and I think would have to determine its own rules for membership.

Now, for my part, as a personal thing, I believe that we hurt ourselves when, in military organizations, we try to discriminate among Americans in recruiting them. I believe that just as a matter of efficiency, it is better to use those that are capable of doing things strictly on merit and without such things as you were talking about.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Going back to the budget, sir, some observers, some very well-experienced men, including your old friend, Vannevar Bush, have said on the budget that the problem is essentially the old question of the unification of the services, the elimination of duplication, the agreement upon a strategic plan, and so on.

Could you comment on that, and give us your impression of what progress has been made on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as you people, some of you here, you older ones, may know, in 1946 and '47 I was a great supporter of unification. I had come back from a war where I had responsibility of commanding all services, dealt with all services, and I thought the day of the separate services was really gone. And I thought we could bring this about. Well, I encountered a very fierce opposition, but I stuck to my guns.

Now, there never was produced a law that, I believe, would have been the best, because there was nothing in that law that gave anyone, any one official, the specific job of uncovering all of the possible duplications, making certain that all of our logistics and supply problems were met in the most economical

Now, I think Dr. Bush may be overestimating to some extent the savings that are to be made there. But I still believe they are considerable; and if we could today get rid of service prejudices to the point of such things as real unification in hospitalization and doctors, in depots where it can be done, and distribution, supply, procurement--a lot of these things--I believe there is a chance to save money.

Now, this, of course, has its limits. After you are purchasing in a certain amount, it doesn't save a great deal to purchase in double that amount except as it eliminates the competitive factor. If you and I are both trying to get 5,000 blankets, and there is only one factory making blankets on a very limited scale, we would run the price up against ourselves very hurriedly. That kind of thing could be eliminated.

But progress is being made, that is the hopeful part about it. Progress is being made, but it is not as fast and it is not as complete as I certainly hoped when I was preaching and praying for unification, which never did take place quite in the form that I thought it should be.

Q. Mr. Reston: I think the point Dr. Bush was trying to get at, sir, was not the question primarily of procurement, but the question of the philosophy of the Joint Chiefs.


Q. Mr. Reston: And his charge was that there was a kind of tacit agreement among the Chiefs so that one would not oppose the demands of the other, and you came out not with one war plan but with three war plans, as he put it.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Well, I don't believe that. I don't believe there are three war plans, but I do believe this: that each one, trying to protect very earnestly what he believes should be his own capabilities and to get the things for him, for example, guided missiles of all kinds, every kind of bomb, I believe then that the war plans are not clear enough in fixing responsibility, possibly, and we could do it cheaper there.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Sir, you have often said that you thought Congress should and could investigate matters within its scope. You were all for that, I believe.

I wonder what you think of the investigation that is starting up on Capitol Hill in the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee whereby they will now investigate executive agencies which were created some years ago by Congress. They want to see if they are abiding by law in their administering of these agencies.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know of any prohibition that there has ever been on that kind of an investigation. They have had these committees, Government investigation committees, and I suppose, so far as I know, they have complete authority. But if they haven't, I had better be educated a little bit on that, I think.

Q. Rowland Evans, Jr., New York Herald Tribune: Sir, after the House reduced your budget request for the Information Agency by $40 million, you characterized that action as the worst kind of economy, I believe. The Senate Appropriations Committee has now further reduced that item by $50 million to $90 million.

Do you feel the agency will have enough money to do an effective job? And how would you characterize the Senate committee's action?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I just say it is a mistake. I believe that the tools to wage peace include a method by which you can tell the truth about America, where you can assist friendly nations in making certain that their countries are not constantly infiltrated and penetrated by false propaganda.

We know of a number of countries that have asked us, "Can't you please help us to keep this propaganda out because we are losing our people, because there is no answer?" That is the kind of thing that I believe must be done, and I think it is a mistake to cut as seriously as these people have.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, last November you characterized your reelection as a victory for Modern Republicanism, and you interpreted it as a mandate from the people in support of your program.

I wonder if you could give us your appraisal at this point of how you think your program of Modern Republicanism is faring, and whether you think the will of the people is being flouted in Congress.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you ask a question that is a pretty long one.

I think I defined my idea, my conception, of Modern Republicanism a little bit ago. I would hope that the Republican philosophy is one that adhering to the basic principles of soundness in governmental operations and with the spirit of the Constitution, yet takes every new problem that comes up and meets it head on and solves it with a clear comprehension of what our people need and what are the things that must be done for them, striving always to get this decentralized as far as it is possible. That is the kind of thing which I believe.

I believe the budget must be balanced, your money must be kept sound, we must be very conservative in these fiscal matters if we are to continue to advance and not have a flight from the dollar some time, and we must avoid inflation.

Now, as to whether or not all of the people are backing this up, I think it would be too much to expect that in every detail of your program they can all understand it at once.

What I did last evening on the budget was to take before the people of the United States the facts applying to the budget. I was not there to make any desperate plea for any one point. I was there to show them why they spend this money, why they have been spending it and where, what they risk, either domestically or in foreign fields, if they cut it seriously.

So I think that, as people are informed, they will probably support that for which they voted.

Q. Peter J. Kumpa, Baltimore Sun: Sir, Israel has announced that it intends to send a test vessel through the Suez Canal, and this morning the reports from Cairo were that the Egyptians were quite upset over the plan. Would you give us your view, sir, about the Israeli plans?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, I have always wanted to see these matters properly decided by the international bodies that have been set up, the United Nations, the World Court.

I would see no objection if Israel sends--makes a peaceful test of just exactly where they stand. On the other hand, I believe to use force would be reprehensible. Now, possibly, they are thinking if they have a peaceful rejection of their effort, they have got a case before the World Court or some place else.

Now, you will recall that in all of this last winter, all this talk, we always urged that it not be assumed in advance that Egypt would not be won around to allowing the passage of Israeli ships. But the one thing we did take a stand on, that we believed, that the Gulf of Aqaba did comprehend and include international waters, and that we would be glad to see that one tested before the same kind of court or body.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: On the budget, sir, could you tell us what response you have had so far from your speech and, secondly, what you personally plan to do beyond the second speech in trying to get it through Congress? Are you going to do a little lobbying up there?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I often go up, when I am invited, so I don't know what you call "lobbying" and what you don't. I would certainly try to influence people in a quiet conversation to see the logic of a position I take.

Now, after the speech of next week, which will be mainly on the matter of mutual security and what it is doing for us-or again put it, waging peace, I have no specific plans for a talk. But as incidents come up, as the situation unfolds, I certainly do not preclude the possibility that I might again take to the air. But I am, as you know, very earnestly concerned in some things. Other things, if the Congress wanted to eliminate them why I think I could go along, but some of them I am very interested in.

Q. Paul Martin, Gannett News Service: Mr. President, putting aside for the moment the '58 budget, the budget-making process is beginning in earnest for the 1959 budget.

THE PRESIDENT. That is right.

Q. Mr. Martin: Now, I wonder if you can tell us at this date whether, perhaps, you can submit a budget to Congress next January that would be lower than the one you have presented now with, perhaps, some hope of tax reduction.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, again you have the world situation, and you have your domestic programs. I don't know of any great amounts that are now being spent except by authority of law.

The one program that I have advocated is this of inducing the States and localities to catch up on the schoolroom deficit, and that I will continue to support because I see no other way of getting it through.

Now, as far as looking ahead for the budget, we try to forecast trends, far from just next year to '49 ['59], we try to forecast them three or four years ahead, and in the meantime we start serious work on '49 ['59].

The effort is going to be redoubled to keep these programs from growing. You see, as you get a big new program started this year, and maybe the first year its budget is $250 million on it in Defense, you can very well soon have a billion for that very same program to sustain it, for replacements, for maintenance and all that sort of thing. The organization grows, with all its auxiliaries. You get new supporting things, new bases. So everything has to be watched this year because of its influence on next year. That is the reason you try to project them four years in advance.

Now, whether or not we can actually come down is going to depend on the state of the world and to what extent we can get rid of programs that are costing us money. [Confers with Mr. Hagerty.] I was told I said "'49" twice, when I meant '59. I correct it.

Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, you emphasized strongly last night that we could not expect any real reduction in spending until we could tackle this business of the defense item. That brings us back to the subject of disarmament.

Could you spell out for us some of the reasoning that has impressed you most as to why the Russians at this particular time seem to be talking more seriously in London, and whether you think there is real hope that they may continue in this vein?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, when you say "real hope," Mr. Morgan, you are asking a man to use an adjective that I think is probably not quite justified. Certainly, we must not lose hope. That would be fatal. That would be consigning the world, as I see it, to a fate that is very desperate no matter which way it goes.

I think that the reason that the Soviets are taking a different tone is because they, as well as all the rest of the world, are feeling the pinch of building, supporting, maintaining these tremendous military organizations. They are bound to feel the pinch. They have an economy, say, a third of the productivity of our own. We feel the pinch. Now, they don't feel it in the same way because their taxes are handled very abruptly and even rudely. Their taxes are lowered by telling the people, "We won't pay the interest on the national debt," or any other thing they want to do. We can't operate that way. We are a free society, and we use the personal incentive as the way to generate the power that the United States must generate. But they are nevertheless feeling the pinch. And because they feel that pinch, and because they see, just as well as anybody else, where the world is really pushing, I believe that they are now growing more serious.

Now, this doesn't mean that they are not at the same time going to be very difficult, because they are going to want just as big an advantage out of the thing as they can get. They will want the scales tipped in their favor. We will try to insist it be a definite quid pro quo equality, and there will be so many arguments about that.

But I do believe that the seriousness comes about because of an awakening sense of responsibility everywhere; no matter how dictatorial or how arbitrary a government, you cannot escape the logic of world events as they are developing around us today.

Merriman Smith, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and tenth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:30 to 11:03 o'clock on Wednesday morning, May 15, 1957. In attendance: 209.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233287

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