The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.
This morning I have one announcement of a rather personal nature. As you know, I have been looking for a chance to get away for a few days' sunshine, and had been thinking of Florida where I had many wonderful invitations to go.
But what I have decided to do is to go by ship to Bermuda, start a few days early, and take a leisurely trip to Bermuda on shipboard. There will be accommodations for a limited press representation on the trip, and Mr. Hagerty will give you the details of that.
I will probably leave Thursday evening sometime, one reason being, of course, that without setting up any new set of communications I have got complete and secret communications with Washington all the time I am out at sea.
Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, the House has passed a resolution calling on you to say specifically where and how to cut the 1958 budget. Now, some of your leaders in Congress say this is an abdication of House and Senate authority.
First, we would like to know what you plan to do about the House resolution and, second, what you think of the general idea of such a resolution.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I haven't seen the exact resolution itself, but I understand its purport is as you state. I hope you have seen also the resolution of the Republican Conference of the Senate last evening which told how they expected to go about this same thing.
Of course, the Congress has the constitutional power of appropriating money, and there can't be a cent spent in this Government except for programs approved by Congress, and out of money specifically appropriated by them.
This budget-making is a very complicated process, as you know, and the larger that our Nation, the larger that our Government grows, the more complicated it is. As I have told you before, we worked many months on the development of this budget, and each item in there has been developed with the idea of performing to the very best of our ability the responsibilities laid on the executive department by the Congress for carrying out its mandates.
If there are to be any great cuts in the budget, I can see only the cutting out or the elimination or slowing up, at least, of some of these great programs. Otherwise, there is no great amount to be saved; although, as you well know, and I am sure you are aware of the fact, the orders are out all the time to be searching for those savings that can be made through administrative efficiency, elimination of duplication, and so on.
Now, I have no objection whatsoever to re-examining our own budget. In fact, the last Cabinet meeting was given over wholly to that subject, how we could re-examine, how we could cut out useless positions, how we could save money. And I will be just as helpful as I can, but every single department head, agency head, that goes before the Congress is examined in detail, item by item.
You can't cut a budget just by saying, "We'll cut five percent." It is an item-by-item proposition and, to start with, I might say this: one great item which would help the budget a lot would be the elimination of the postal deficit for which I have fought for four years, and I would like to see that done.
But, of course, the examination of this budget with the hope of cutting it down is going ahead in the executive department every minute. And then, even after money is appropriated, it goes ahead. We are trying to save more money out of the '57 budget than we planned on; whether it is possible or not, we are not sure, but we are trying.
Q. Alan S. Emory, Watertown Times: Mr. President, last week, sir, you said that if Leonard Hall ran for Governor of New York you would be one of his boosters. In view of the fact that there are certain to be at least two other candidates for the Republican nomination for Governor of New York, is your status as a Hall booster before the nomination is made or after the State convention has made its choice?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, as you know, I made that remark at a party given for Len Hall, and I was assuming that I was talking about the Republican nominee, and I was trying to express my admiration for Len Hall, that's all. But, as I said also, I believe at the same time, that I didn't go into State party politics. They would have to decide who their candidate is. But I like Len Hall.
Q. Roscoe Drummond, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, at his press conference yesterday, Mr. Alcorn said that in the interests of Republican control of Congress next year in the elections, he would hope that there would be nominated very attractive Republican congressional candidates.
I would like to ask if you would give us your concept of an attractive Republican congressional candidate?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you one thing: I would like to hear from some of the ladies on that because there are more women voters than there are men. But I think that I had better not try to enumerate the qualifications, Mr. Drummond, that I think a candidate should have because by accident I might be omitting describing someone whom I admire very much. So I think I just better not say too much about that one.
Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Mr. President, can you tell us what topics or problems you plan to take up at the Bermuda conference with the Prime Minister? Do you have an agenda?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, we hope, between the Prime Minister and myself, to have many long talks without agenda.
Now, there will be finally an agenda for official meetings that will be published at the proper time. But I couldn't describe them now because it's not yet complete. But, as you well know, there are numbers of subjects revolving around NATO and the Mid-East and other areas, important areas of the world, that are bound to be talked about.
Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: Mr. President, in attempting to carry out, sir, your promise of aid to the new Polish regime, our negotiators apparently have run into some legal difficulties, including the Battle Act. Are you prepared to ask Congress for the necessary authority so that loans might be made to Poland?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, as you know, the negotiations are just now going on, and I won't have the report until they have gone far enough, until our people believe they know what is for the best interests of our Nation and for helping Poland in such ways as we believe she should be helped.
If their convictions are that some legal change is necessary, why, of course, I will ask Congress to examine that and give me the authority.
Q. Charles W. Roberts, Newsweek: Mr. President, the report on the radio this morning was that Ralph Bunche of the U. N. has agreed to an Egyptian civil administration in the Gaza Strip with the U. N. troops deployed only along the armistice line.
Do you feel that this is consistent with the assurances that we gave Israel before their withdrawal?
THE PRESIDENT. You are talking about a report that I haven't seen and hadn't heard of, and I talked to the Acting Secretary of State this morning.
As you know, it is General Hammarskjold, Mr. Hammarskjold, who is conducting these negotiations out there, and is going out himself, I think, on Saturday. Our views as to what should be done have been made known to him, so I think that as long as the thing is in that kind of negotiating stage, I shouldn't either prejudge or predict the outcome; but the Secretary General does know our views.
Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Sir, have you not by your own description of the complexity of the budget, of the way it is built up, made it clear that Congress, without a vast staff such as you have, cannot cut it?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think if you would take the sum total of the staffs of these committees, you would find that they have vast staffs in the Congress. As a matter of fact, they are building a new building. [Laughter]
What I am getting at is, each one of them has a special subject, and they develop quite effective staffs on that line, and this is the first time that I have heard of such a thing as this being done, that is, that they ask the Executive to reexamine the budget. They have usually cut with great abandon and great, great liberality.
Q. Mrs. Craig: Sir, in my experience, it is the first time that the President and the Secretary of the Treasury ever asked the Congress to cut their budget.
THE PRESIDENT. I didn't ask them to cut. I said if they could find places in that budget where their judgment disagreed with mine, and they were the final appropriating authority in this case, if they found such instances to go ahead and cut, and I would do my very best to get along with it.
I didn't say that I know where these places are except for the one I told you about, this budget deficit.
Q. David P. Sentner, Hearst Newspapers: Mr. President, have you had any confirmation of the reports that Russia has been sending new arms shipments to Egypt?
THE PRESIDENT. No. I remember reports, it seems to me, right after the fighting ceased, of some kind; but I haven't had any recent reports on it, at least that I recall now.
Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Dave Beck, President of the Teamsters Union, and one of the labor leaders who supported you in 1952 and 1956, was recalled last week by Labor Secretary Mitchell as a delegate to the ILO conference. Mr. Beck charges that in doing so Mr. Mitchell prejudged his case about to be heard before the McClellan committee. Could you give us your opinion on this matter?
THE PRESIDENT. No. I talked it over with the Secretary of Labor, and it's exactly because we don't want to prejudge the case of someone who is apparently under investigation by the Congress that we said we will not go through with this appointment, with this particular nomination; that's all. I am not going to prejudge the case. I don't know a thing about it except what I read in the papers about that investigation.
Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Sir, I believe Senator Lyndon Johnson spoke to you the other night about his plan to give incentive pay to ranchers in the drought area to defer grazing cattle until the grass can come back. Will you tell us what you think about that?
THE. PRESIDENT. About his plan for what?
Q. Mrs. McClendon: To give incentive pay to ranchers to defer grazing until the grass can come back in drought areas.
THE PRESIDENT. I don't remember that he spoke about it at all. He and I did talk about the good fortune--we have had some rains in southwest Texas, but I can't recall that he mentioned the point at all.
Q. Mrs. McClendon: Would you think that that would be a good plan in view of your drought message? I believe you mentioned it in a general way.
THE PRESIDENT. I would want to take a look at its details and discuss it with the Secretary of Agriculture before I made a comment.
Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mr. President, much of the debate yesterday in the House was about cutting the foreign aid program. Have your staff studies gone far enough for you to tell us whether you are going to have any additional recommendations on foreign aid?
THE PRESIDENT. You mean recommendations for cutting it?
Q. Mr. Brandt: No, for reorganization or a different type of mutual security aid.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am not quite certain what you are talking about, because--
Q. Mr. Brandt: Well, for instance, Mr. Fairless said it would be better to have more loans than grants.
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
Q. Mr. Brandt: And also Mr. Eric Johnston said he thought we should give aid to countries not only who are not neutral but about whom there was some doubt as to their inclination.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, as of this moment I have no plans for making any great changes in the program I have already submitted to this particular Congress.
I do believe there is a lot of misunderstanding, as I have told you people often, about foreign aid. I believe it is one of the cheapest ways we have of insuring the position in the world we want to maintain.
Now, I do agree that wherever they are applicable, loans are better than grants. I think you save the self-respect of everybody, and they enlist a greater local concern that all money is spent efficiently and properly. But I think there are also cases where loans simply won't do the job; there have to be a few grants.
Q. Mr. Brandt: Well, is there any intention to increase the economic aid, as Mr. Eric Johnston suggested?
THE PRESIDENT. Not in any great amount over what we have already recommended.
Q. Mr. Brandt: Or a three-year program?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have always asked for a longer program and for greater flexibility. I have asked that, as you know, several times.
Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Mr. President, sir, could you tell us whether you are actually seeking a base in the Red Sea on the Ethiopian coast and give us the background of that?
THE PRESIDENT. Actually seeking?
Q. Mr. Reston: Yes. Are you trying to negotiate .
THE PRESIDENT. Whereabouts?
Q. Mr. Reston: On the Ethiopian coast in the Red Sea.
THE PRESIDENT. We have no plans at the moment for any base, any base of ours in Ethiopia.
Now, we do have arrangements with Ethiopia for communication facilities and things of that kind, and some of them are quite large in their character, and negotiations are going on. We have no plans further than that at this moment.
Q. Mr. Reston: It was reported that Vice President Nixon, out of Addis Ababa, had been authorized to raise this question with Haile Selassie.
THE PRESIDENT. I think there is some mistake, because we have no immediate plans for a base. The reason I use the word "immediate," I can't say what we are ever going to have. But as of now the subject of the base itself or of a base is not in our consideration. It is facilities that we would like to keep there, communication facilities largely.
Q. Fletcher Knebel, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, could you tell us what kind of a ship you are going on, and where it will go during the week?
THE PRESIDENT. I think a cruiser, and it will go really no place except just to take a very slow trip to Bermuda. [Laughter]
Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, Smith, United Press, again. Are you going to leave, where are you going to leave from, and that is tomorrow night?
THE PRESIDENT. Norfolk, tomorrow night.
Q. Mr. Smith: Norfolk, tomorrow night?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, now, I can't promise you for sure I am going to leave tomorrow night. Anything can happen within the next 24: hours. I have sufficiently caught up with my work and arranged for communications that I can go if nothing unusual, untoward occurs.
Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, there have been some complaints on Capitol Hill that you are growing increasingly inaccessible. Congressmen find when they would like to talk to you that more and more they have to deal with members of your staff. Do you recognize any such problem?
THE PRESIDENT. No, no one has ever mentioned such a thing to me from the Congress; and, as you know, only the other evening I was down, circulated around with them, and I think if anyone had any real complaint he would have mentioned it to me. I have never heard it.
Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, last week at your news conference you were having a little trouble with your ear and had a head cold. Can you tell us how you are feeling now?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, some better. But, of course, I think sometimes it is a case of wearing it out. I went out to Walter Reed yesterday afternoon, and they conducted long examinations, with pictures and everything, and they said I was in quite good shape from their standpoint.
Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, one of your former assistants here in the White House, C. D. Jackson, said in Toronto last night that we withdrew our offer to Egypt to help build the Aswan Dam to force a showdown with Egypt over playing off Russia against the United States in the Middle East. How does that square with your knowledge of the facts?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that is his speculation, that's all.
Q. Paul Martin, Gannett Papers: Mr. President, a little further clarification on Len Hall: at the legislative correspondents' dinner in Albany, some of the New York State Republican leaders were saying that your statement about Hall didn't mean anything, that it was just the sort of thing that a fellow might say at a party. Now, does this mean a specific endorsement of Mr. Hall to run for governor?
THE PRESIDENT. It does not mean this--it does not mean that I am going to enter a New York primary fight among Republicans; it does not. It does mean that if Mr. Hall is for anything, he has my own personal good wishes, and if he is the Republican nominee, he has my enthusiastic support.
Q. Robert J. Donovan, New York Herald Tribune: There have been persistent reports that Queen Elizabeth is going to visit the United States this year. Do you anticipate such a visit?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, there is nothing that has gone far enough that I can discuss it now.
As I have told you before, I never discuss impending state visits unless arrangements have so been made that the announcement can be agreed on; and there is nothing that has progressed far enough to make any such announcement.
Q. Roger Mudd, WTOP News: Mr. President, Judge A. D. Barksdale of the District Court of West Virginia announced plans to retire this summer. I wonder if you have given any thought to the appointment of Republican National Committeeman Ted Dalton to succeed him.
THE PRESIDENT. I had not heard of the impending retirement; and the answer to the second part is, no, because I haven't known anything about it.
Q. Donald J. Gonzales, United Press: Mr. President, would you like to see Egypt delayed taking over civil administration of the Gaza Strip?
THE PRESIDENT. I would like to see the arrangements made that the United Nations and General Hammarskjold believe will be the most conducive to bringing on conditions in which real negotiations for the settlement of the major problems can be achieved; that is what I would like to see.
Q. Lloyd M. Schwartz, Fairchild Publications: Mr. President, I wonder if you are planning to send a special message to Congress shortly on revisions of the Taft-Hartley Act.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you say "special message." As you know, yearly we have sent up certain recommendations on the Taft-Hartley Act; but whether or not I am planning a special message, I have forgotten at this moment because those things come up in their regular order. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don't.
Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President, you had the leaders of Congress drop in at the White House the other day. Could you tell us why you asked them in, and what you talked about?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, as a matter of fact, it was just one of a more informal type of meeting of the kind that I have had, and plan to have more of, as time goes on.
I had the four leaders, and we just talked over the general situation; and a great deal of the conversation was personal. In other words, it was a very informal meeting, but I think very profitable.
Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: Mr. President, getting back to what Mr. Drummond asked you before about Meade Alcorn, he was quoted also as saying the following: "That any Republican who was nominated through the regular process and runs on the Republican ticket is entitled to our support and will have our help."
Now, would you follow that course yourself in regard to men, say, such as Senators McCarthy, Jenner, Malone?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't think it is necessary for me to comment personally as to what I would do in hypothetical cases. Meade Alcorn is the head of the Republican hierarchy of control, and I think for himself he stated the answer exactly right.
Q. Douglass M. Allen, Cincinnati Times-Star: Mr. President, you have had for, I believe, six weeks now the latest version of the Bricker amendment. I wonder if you could tell us how you feel about it.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that there is as yet, as far as I know, no real meeting of the minds on this particular project.
I have, from the beginning and for several years, explained to you people that I would approve and help support any amendment that confines itself to stating that any executive agreement or any treaty that violated the Constitution was null and void, but beyond that I have never been prepared to go.
Q. Charles W. Bailey, Minneapolis Tribune: Mr. President, sir, I believe a bit earlier, in talking about the budget, you said that you could see the only chance for great cuts would be in the cutting out or elimination or slowing down of these great programs. Could you be a bit more specific about what you have in mind as to "these great programs"?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, every great program that affects the security and welfare of the United States. They are all adopted by the action of the Congress, and they range from--we spend over 63 cents, I think, out of our expenditure dollar for some kind of security arrangements; we spend a great deal for veterans, a great deal for farmers; and when you come down to it, there is only a small percentage of the budget that is susceptible to savings through just administrative efficiency.
So I merely say you can't make great savings unless you are willing to tackle one of those programs; but they are authorized by Congress, and Congress will have to say which one they don't want to carry out if they are going to make big savings.
Q. Carleton Kent, Chicago Sun-Times: Mr. President, have you had any messages from the Vice President that you can discuss with us this morning?
THE PRESIDENT. No. I just have the regular reports that come in through the State Department of where he has been, and so on. Nothing unusual has been reported to me whatsoever.
Q. S. Douglass Cater, Jr., Reporter Magazine: Mr. President, in your consideration of a Middle East aid program, have you given any thought to the use of international agencies, such as the World Bank, as a device for instituting some sort of developmental program in the Middle East?
THE PRESIDENT. Of course we do, all the way through from the very beginning; as a matter of fact, in the old Aswan Dam, the first proposal, the International Bank figured very strongly; and we believe it should be used wherever it is possible.
Q. William H. Stringer, Christian Science Monitor: Mr. President, there has been some avoidance lately of the term "New Republicanism" by Republicans, and it has got somewhat tangled up with the big budget and big spending and no tax reduction. It seems to be something of an attack on Modern Republicanism through the means of the budget.
Do you see any way to disentangle this term "Modern Republicanism" from its association with the budget?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course as I use "New Republicanism" it has nothing to do whatsoever with big budgets. On the contrary, it seeks the greatest possible economy in the Government and diffusion of power into functional and geographical sectors.
But what I say is this: America has gotten used to depending upon the Federal Government for anything that is unusual or anything that a particular group or sector believes it needs.
For example, one recommendation I have recently sent to the Congress is that in these several disaster programs for which we need money, that we ask each State to bear 25 percent of the expense. Now, that is not just to get the Federal Government out of the expense, but it is this: in order to get a sense of local responsibility and authority there so that money will not be uselessly spent.
Now, I don't know whether we can get that or not, because people seem to think that the Federal Treasury is a bottomless well, that all you do is pump out more water and more flows in there, from somewhere, they know not whence. The fact is it comes out of their own pockets, as we well know.
Now, "Modern Republicanism," as I have said time and again, is to follow the Lincoln dictum of what government is for, and then to do it within the concept of a competitive economy, sound fiscal arrangements, and a sound dollar.
That's the way I see it.
Q. Robert W. Richards, The Copley Press: The House yesterday set aside the voting on the Soil Bank bill, to call on you to tell them where and how to cut the budget. That bill, the Democratic bill, I believe, which the Department of Agriculture estimates would cost an extra billion dollars, how do you feel about that?
THE PRESIDENT. Of course, I think the adding of all the feed grains and all that that makes this cost unconscionably high, I believe is something that Congress will never approve, if they are really earnestly seeking to reduce this budget.
Q. Walter T. Ridder, Ridder Papers: Sir, would you support a move to increase representation allowances in the larger embassies abroad so that men of more moderate financial means might be our ambassadors?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I think I would. I am shooting from the hip a little bit there, but for the embassies where the historical record is one of great cost, if our ambassadors are to bear their part, I would support, myself, greater representation fees for those places. There is a half a dozen of them that really no one can occupy today unless he has got very great means of his own. Merriman Smith, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and fourth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:31 to 10:58 o'clock on Wednesday morning, March 13, 1957. In attendance: 236.
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/233123