Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

March 27, 1957

THE PRESIDENT. Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, I was aboard ship when we had news that President Magsaysay had been lost. I should like to take this opportunity to pay my tribute to a very gallant man and a great friend of democracy. I am sure that all the American people feel, with President Garcia of the Philippines and his people, that we have lost a true champion of the principles for which we stand, and we deeply regret it.

There is one other announcement of a different character.

As you know, there has been a lot of speculation and talk as to what we should actually do about the Constitution to provide for the case of a temporary disability of a President. I directed a study of this kind to be undertaken a long time ago. It has now come to fruition. It's been chaired by the Attorney General, and very soon I shall be sending it to Congress after having, I hope, a bipartisan meeting with the heads to see if there are any more suggestions and perfection of the thing before we send it down.

I have no other announcements.

Q. Robert J. Donovan, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, is it possible you could crystallize for us your thinking on this subject just beyond this bare announcement, sir?


Q. Mr. Donovan: Could you give us your thinking on the subject?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you, Mr. Donovan, I don't want to talk too much about its details, because, first, I want to have a bipartisan meeting so as to get the real views of these people and perfect it.

I would say, in general, that one of the great difficulties now existing is this: the reason that a Vice President is so reluctant to act in this case is because our Constitution does not provide now whether he would become the President, whether he would be the Acting President, when the President and how the President would take over again, all of those things are cloudy. And I think just the clearing up of the whole situation will do much to benefit--

Mr. Clark.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Can you tell us generally how you feel about the obligation of any citizen to testify before a congressional committee and, more specifically, whether you think that it is proper for the head of a labor union or for any responsible official to invoke the fifth amendment to avoid giving testimony?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you know, Mr. Clark, without my telling you, I am not a lawyer and so as to legal aspects of this I know nothing.

I do uphold with all the emphasis I can, the right of Congress to investigate in order to form the basis of legitimate legislation in any field in which the Congress feels it has a responsibility; and I think the power and the dignity of the Congress in this regard are in good hands, and they will protect that right and execute it faithfully.

I personally don't want to comment on the right of a citizen to take the fifth amendment because I have no doubt that in some instances it is absolutely a basic safeguard of American liberty or it would not have been written as the fifth amendment to the Constitution; although I must say I probably share the common reaction if a man has to go to the fifth amendment, there must be something he doesn't want to tell. But I think that it is there, and I think the lawyers have to decide when it is used properly or improperly.

Q. William McGaffin, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, sir, do you feel that there are any economies that you can make in the executive branch of the Government to help cut Government spending? For instance, would you be willing to do without that pair of helicopters that have been proposed for getting you out to the golf course a little faster than you can make it in a car?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think much of the question, because no helicopters have been procured for me to go to a golf course.

Q. Mr. McGaffin: Well--

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you; that is all.

Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: Mr. President, in the study which the Attorney General has completed for you on the disability question, is it his conclusion that this can be done by statute or is a constitutional amendment here involved?

THE PRESIDENT. I think that it would have to be a constitutional amendment, and I believe he thinks so, to do it properly.

Q. Frank van der Linden, Richmond Times Dispatch: Mr. President, you were speaking a minute ago about the Bill of Rights and the amendments. There is a movement in the Senate to write in an amendment on your civil rights bill to provide for the trial by jury on injunction cases. That was tied in the subcommittee by 3 to 3, so it looks like it might pass.

I wonder, if that was written into your bill, whether you would feel that would be a reason to veto it or whether you would sign a bill like that?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't discussed it with the Attorney General. As you know, I have been gone for some days, and just having been back, there are a lot of details that haven't come up yet, but he hasn't told me whether that would be a crippling or disabling amendment.

Q. Mr. van der Linden: I just wondered if you personally felt it was important enough.

THE PRESIDENT. I just don't know enough about that point. It's a legal point.

Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, several weeks ago you indicated that you would study the question of whether management organizations should establish the same type of codes of ethical conduct such as have been drawn up by the AFL-CIO. Have you had a chance to study that question, and do you have any opinion on that now?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think I could give you one this minute. I have been very preoccupied with other matters for awhile, and I would have to ask for a little more time.

Q. Mr. Herling: Sir, will we be able to have an opinion a little later on?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not sure.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Mr. President, in the last few weeks, the Russians have been using some pretty rough language to our allies, notably the Japanese, and just this last week the Norwegians, threatening them that if they permit bases on their territory they can expect some pretty severe retaliation.

I wonder, sir, whether you have any comment about violating the U. N. Charter, and threatening the use of force, as the Russians have been doing.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, we recognize that any nation in the world has a right to take such measures as it deems necessary for its own security and defense.

I think the statements of the Russians are completely indefensible, and while I know of no specific purpose or plan that leads to this particular charge they are making and their particular threats, as you call them, that they are making, the right of Norway to take any measure it pleases within its own country for its own security certainly is clear. And I might point out that when I went to Europe in 1951--in December, 1950--that the same charges and same threats were made at that moment.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: There are reports from the Middle East this morning that Saudi Arabian troops are moving or have moved to the edge of the Gulf of Aqaba in what seems to be an effort or plan to blockade Israeli shipping. There are also reports overnight of new Syrian attacks on Israeli villages or installations. Now, this seems to indicate to people in that part of the world some deterioration in the Mid-East situation.

How do you feel about that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, we have a long history here, Mr. Smith, of disorder, riots, raids back and forth, and different kinds of moves in the war of nerves.

Now, the actual passage, I believe, through the Gulf of Aqaba is much nearer to the western than to the eastern shore. So just what the movement of these troops on the part of Saudi Arabia could mean, I don't know; but I would doubt that it has any great significance so far as the use of the Gulf of Aqaba as an international waterway would be concerned.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, could you give us any estimate on how long it may be before Britain will get, say, the intermediate ballistic missile under this Bermuda agreement? There has been some talk that delivery is quite a way off.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I couldn't give you any firm estimate, and quite naturally I wouldn't talk about the details of the deployment of such weapons when they become available. It was a matter-of-fact agreement in a matter of principle.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: Mr. President, could you tell us, sir, within those limits of security, how the deployment of these missiles, once they are in place in the U. K. and, perhaps, elsewhere, is likely to affect the balance of power between the East and West? Is there something that will have-bring a new preponderance to our side or is it only to catch up and match something which the Soviets already have?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, when you are talking about such things, you are ranging rather closely into the area of confidential information involving the deployment of troops and what value you expect to get out of it.

I would merely say this: that each of these countries, our allies, has a right to the kind of things that it can get for use within its own territory to defend itself; and when we are in a position to help, and there seems to be a scheme that would work to the economy of both our countries, why, then, we favor it and explore it as far as we can. But I wouldn't want to discuss the relative strength of the two nations with respect to any particular spot.

Q. Nat S. Finney, Buffalo Evening News: Does the launching of this program, contemplate an increase in the stated requirements for fissionable materials, that is, is a new and larger atomic explosive program in view because of this?

THE PRESIDENT. You mean does this--like the Bermuda Conference, did that initiate a new demand?

Q. Mr. Finney: An increase in American production of atomic explosives?

THE PRESIDENT. No, not at all, not at all. There is no-the American program is fixed by military requirements, and in the amounts that are set aside for the development of atomic power for peaceful uses. Now, Britain itself is producing certain kinds of fissionable weapons--atomic weapons.

We, for our own part, go ahead with our schedule, and if any other nation gets a piece of equipment they could use, an atomic warhead--we don't give them an atomic warhead. These atomic warheads always remain under our possession.

Q. Rowland Evans, Jr., New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, on this labor legislation question, sir, I believe you have asked Congress for laws to tighten up on union welfare funds. In view of recent disclosures, do you think that, perhaps, other aspects of the use of a worker's dues into a union treasury should be dealt with in some form of legislation?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the recommendations we sent to Congress were based on the theory that these are community funds belonging to the union. The union is an organization that operates under the benefit of congressional legislation; and, therefore, it seems proper to devise methods by which you give to union members an exact accounting as to how their money is used.

I suppose if there is unanimous decision among those people, they want to use their money a certain way, that is perfectly proper so far as I know. But what we are trying to do is to make certain that every one of them knows.

Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Congress seems to be in a budget-cutting mood, although it hasn't been able to decide what to cut. It seems an accurate supposition that one of its targets would be foreign aid. Mr. Nixon told some of us with him in Africa that one of his recommendations to you as the result of his trip was going to be an expanded financial and technical participation in Africa.

Against that background, can you tell us what your Administration has done, if anything, in a specific rather than in a general way, toward getting your foreign aid program through Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. I am afraid you have opened up yourself for a little speech. [Laughter]

I can't tell you how strongly I feel what I have told you before. This budget was not only made carefully, it was made intelligently. Its purpose was, first of all, to provide the moneys to carry out programs already authorized by Congress, and next, to lay before the Congress certain new legislation of programs that we believed now were important for the United States and should be carried through.

At the same time we are doing this, we well know that in an organization as vast as the Federal Government, employing as it does two and a half million civilians and three million people in the armed services, that to say that every bit of that budget is completely correct to the last dollar and you can find no ways of saving money anywhere if you can investigate long enough in any particular item or activity, that is foolish.

Now, if we start in with this budget, we have got many parts that can't be touched. We have got interest on the public debt; we have got grants-in-aid that are fixed by law; we have got veterans' charges; and then we have got a long series of agricultural programs that require from us money. You can't take these things and just stop them in mid-stride. Some of them you could save a little money on by cutting into the program.

We have got a vast expense of Government in the Post Office Department. But when you get done with all these things, you have, in that field that deals with our future security, defense, the AEC, foreign aid; and these things are the ones that absorb the vast portion of the budget.

Now, I don't know of anyone that has said we can cut our Armed Forces by 20 percent or 10 percent or any other thing that would give us a significant saving in the budget. I don't know of anyone that thinks we should stop producing fissionable material.

Now, foreign aid: foreign aid has no pressure group in any district in the United States, and so it comes up to the man who suddenly becomes very economy-minded--and I must say it is a very great satisfaction to me to find out there are so many economy-minded people in Washington. They didn't use to be here. [Laughter] And so this becomes a fair target. But I say to you there are no dollars today that are being spent more wisely for the future of American peace and prosperity than the dollars we put in foreign aid; and this again is not to say that some savings may not be made in this regard.

I am told by the Defense Department they found they can make probably some savings for one year by shortening up still further their carryovers, which has been a point of some argument for some years.

But now, if anyone is interested in economy, let's go to the things that are open for all to see. Take the Post Office deficit. I have been trying to get it stopped for the last four years, and I have made just zero progress, except through the efficiency of Mr. Summerfield and his people in giving service at less cost.

But take the great number of public works that are authorized without proper engineering studies to back them up. Congress authorizes them. Why? It must be for political purposes, because the Engineering department has not said they are necessary.

We provide services for many people in this country. We don't charge what it costs--such things as patent fees and other things of that kind.

We lend money at a lower price than we can get it. Take the college dormitory plan. I forget what the exact sum is, I think it is 2 1/2 or 2 3/4; we can't possibly get long-term money at that price today. We have 2 percent money in some places, and we pay 3 1/2 to 4.

Now, if we would get these things on a business basis and tackle the problems where the money is going out, we would save a whole lot. But I tell you it's futile to talk about the United States keeping up the position it must keep up in the world and measurably sticking to the programs that have already been adopted in the United States or have been agreed to be necessary for the United States, and cut that budget severely.

You can, as I say, you can save some money here and there, and I am all for it to the last dollar bill that they can save. And I think we can point out some specifics, but I have given you a number of specifics where we can stop some of this leakage right away.

It is a matter of getting up and arguing for something, because people become economy conscious and not realizing what they are talking about. But I come back again in the security field: there we are not going to touch any of these things severely or we are going to suffer. And of all of those I would say none is more important than so-called foreign aid. I am perfectly sure we should refer to it only as mutual aid, because it is not only the welfare of somebody else we are seeking, we are seeking our own future markets, prosperity, and peace. And so as we work with these countries we are working also for ourselves, and let's not forget it.

Q. Joseph R. Slevin, New York Herald Tribune: On this budget question, sir, some Congressmen are talking about the possibility of cutting your budget deeply enough to provide a tax cut. Do you think they can cut the budget that far without impairing essential services?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I believe that, because the United States had to go to war, we couldn't build schools; and then there was a period of allocation of materials, and you couldn't build schools; that while I don't believe in the general theory of Federal Government supporting education throughout our country all the time, I do believe this deficit must be made up.

I have submitted two different programs. The first program I submitted put as much of a burden as we possibly could on the States. The second one took a little more on the Federal Government, and that calls for $451 million in the current budget.

Do we want to say to the States we are not going to build any schools? Now, Congress in its wisdom can say the time is not propitious. If it isn't, I imagine, with our growing population, the deficit will increase rather than decrease, and certainly we want an educated youth in our country. That is one program.

If you are going to save this money, you have got to look at programs. You cannot just say we take out 25 million here, 50 million there, 150 there, and be doing anything except kidding yourselves.

I notice some of the recommendations that we are saving money out of obligatory payments to veterans and to others in the United States. Well, there is merely a question as to who is correct, the budget or the committee in figuring out what we owe them, because if you haven't got enough in the budget to pay them, you just have one thing to do: you have got to go down to the Congress with a deficiency bill, because they have ordered the program.

So I beg of you when you think of saving money in this budget, think of what programs you want to eliminate.

Q. William S. White, New York Times: Mr. President, returning to foreign aid, could you give us any indication of the size, of the approximate size, of your request at this time?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as I recall, we put in for 4 billion 400 million and, as I say, I understand that there is some belief now they can shorten up still further lead time; and there are some stocks of spare parts they found, they might make some savings on the military side of it.

And again, I don't say you couldn't find a few dollars here and there. I think the more flexibility, the longer term it is, the more you can save, because the more efficiently you can plan.

I don't believe you can buy friendship. I don't believe you can go into these countries and--just by spending money.

I do say it is only one part of a many-sided program. You are trying to teach respect for individual liberty and rights to people who never heard the words. And while you are going along with that, you have got a critical problem. They are proud of their national existence, but they are also suffering under the lowest standards of living--we can't even imagine, except for those people who visited those countries.

That is the thing you are up against; and, therefore, to say you are going to save a few millions here and a few millions there, I think is the poorest kind of economy we can find.

Q. Francis M. Stephenson, New York Daily News: Mr. President, I believe the talk up on the Hill is looking to tax cuts next year. Do you care to look ahead to next year on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I assure you of this: no one would like a tax cut more than I would, and I am quite sure the United States people want a tax cut as soon as it can be done. And I am certain also of this: that the American people also know what kind of standards they want in national security, the safety of their country, in the amounts invested for peace, and in the amounts invested for, you might say, raising or meeting the human requirements of our own people at home.

Now, in some of these, like disaster relief, I have put recommendations before the Congress asking that the States share in this, at least in a minor way, so as to get the efficiency of local responsibility, local concern for the money that is spent into the thing. But there are all sorts of ways in which the Federal Government has been assuming responsibilities by law that, if continued, are just going to cost money. And it's just fatuous to get up and say we are just going to save all this money, and then not do something about Federal responsibilities already given to us.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Mr. President, sir, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are looking to the White House to bring forth a gas bill. I wonder if your Administration plans to produce a bill to take Federal controls off of gas production.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know that we will put up a bill. Certainly, we will say exactly what I said when I vetoed the other bill, that legislation in this field is absolutely essential.

The trouble is, those people who say they are so concerned with the consumer have thought of only one part of it, and that is regulating the initial cost of gas into a pipeline so that it can't be translated to him.

But the consumer also requires the discovery of new reserves of gas. So you have got here one of those problems with conflicting considerations, and the question is how to do it, how to keep up the exploration, the building up of your reserves, so far as the capacity of this old earth in this regard will provide them and, at the same time, not allowing the people who are producing it to set their own price on the gas as it is delivered to the pipeline.

I thoroughly believe that the pipeline is a public utility and must be treated as such, including its right to fix the price at which the gas enters that pipeline. I do not believe that the Federal Government is wise in trying to go within a State and fix the cost or to fix the price of gas at the wellhead.

Q. Robert L. Riggs, Louisville Courier-Journal: Have you had any chance to give any thought to the appointment of a new director for the Tennessee Valley Authority?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't thought about it. I have had no recommendations that I remember.

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mr. President, both the Democratic and Republican Senate leaders have said they are willing to give atomic energy material with fissionable warheads to France, Britain, and Germany. Was that discussed at Bermuda, that eventually they would get these?

THE PRESIDENT. I have never heard a discussion which would take fissionable warheads out of our possession. Now, I think what you must have heard was something dealing with some war-time situation. I don't think

Q. Mr. Brandt: No.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as far as I know--it is now against the law.

Q. Mr. Brandt: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT. There has been no request that I have seen by any government to us for fissionable materials to be turned over to them.

Q. Mr. Brandt: They said they should have it in case of emergency, but if they haven't asked for it

THE PRESIDENT. I will put it this way: we have got forces all over the world, and I suppose we could get to them, these things, in quite a hurry. But when we turn over the possession of these things to some other nation, there enter other problems that would require change in law.

Q. Robert G. Nixon, International News Service: Mr. President, the special election in Texas is coming up next week, and it looks like for the first time that a Republican candidate has an excellent chance of winning.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I hope you say that with some enthusiasm. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. Nixon: I do, sir. I am from Georgia, sir. [Laughter] I wonder if you could give us any of your views now on the importance, Mr. President, of a Republican victory for the Senate in Texas?

THE PRESIDENT, Oh, I don't think it would be--may I say this: I believe every southern State would be benefited by having a healthy two-party system. There ought to be an occasional victory by the other side if you are going to keep politicians up to snuff. That I believe.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President, there is talk on Capitol Hill of really drastic cuts in the budget. Senator Byrd, I think, has proposed a $5 billion cut. Do you think that there could be such a cut with safety to the Nation, to national security?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't believe you can cut that kind of sum out of those sums we provide today for our national security in this world.

Now, where are you going to cut the five billion? Someone else will have to say that it is not important to keep up our obligations to veterans, that it is not in the interests of all of us to try to keep a healthy agriculture, that it is not in the interest of all of us to get some schools built, and turn all of this public education problem back to the localities and States where it belongs.

If those programs are not essential to us, why, then, of course, you can save a lot of money. I happen to think they are essential, and that is the way I am operating.

Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: Mr. President, getting back to politics, recently you said you were a booster for Len Hall if he runs for Governor of New York, and there are reports that Mr. Stassen plans to run for Governor of Pennsylvania. Are you supporting him?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I must have made an unwise remark if I am going to get into 48 different States in talking this way.

I was at a party that was given in honor of Governor Hall--I mean of Chairman Hall--and someone told me while I was sitting there that he hoped some day to be Governor of New York. He has never told me this, and I have no idea whether he is interested. I said if he was our candidate or I meant to say, possibly I didn't say it this explicitly, if he was the Republican candidate for Governor of New York, he would have one man in his corner cheering for him very loudly. Now, that is as far as I think I am going on this governor business.

Q. Peter G. J. Korteweg, Netherlands Press: Recently, Mr. President, you answered a letter from the Dutch Prime Minister--


Q. Mr. Korteweg: --about the aviation negotiations now going on in Washington. It seems that these negotiations are dragging along, however, and I wonder if you plan to do anything about this in case the negotiators do not reach any agreement.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as you understand, I am not in the first instance the authority that gets to make the agreement with a foreign country about air entry into our own country. I have to be the approving authority in those cases, those only.

Now, I told the Prime Minister that I would do everything I could to speed up thorough and sympathetic study of his proposition, and I looked at it, and I asked that this be done, to refer it to the negotiators with my belief that we ought to reach some kind of settlement very quickly. I hope that will be done and I can look it up again. That is as far as I have gone, because I have been away.

Q. Hazel Markel, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, I think the answer lies in your looks, sir, but could we ask you how you are feeling since your Bermuda sojourn?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am better but I certainly would like some more sun. I only got two and a half days of sun on that trip, which was a little disappointment. But I think I am feeling very much better, thank you very much.

Q. Miss Markel: Cough better?


Q. Charles L. Bartlett, Chattanooga Times: In this economy thing, there has been developing a feeling on the Hill that by endorsing the general principle of economy you have laid the whole budget open or made it vulnerable to these cuts.

This morning you have been very specific on security and foreign aid, and I wondered when your budget director completes his review you talked of a couple of weeks ago, whether you were going to make a specific recommendation of those cuts in the non-security area that you would countenance?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, what we are doing--we are making a complete study of everything. We are taking the cuts suggested by the House committee, the Budget Bureau is going over it with each department, and when that department goes down it will show what cuts it believes it can absorb without damage to the service.

But take the Post Office Department: they have already recommended cuts in its appropriation that the Postmaster General believes will either occasion a lessening of mail deliveries--it's bound to cause discharge of at least--yes, discharge of some employees; there might be other services curtailed seriously.

So if they are going to make those, we have to show what they mean. And if Congress, in its wisdom, decides that the American people don't need as efficient a Post Office service as they are getting now, well, that is the kind of thing that has to happen. That is why I say you have to study programs. But we are going to point out every single economy we think we can possibly absorb down to that point.

Q. Mr. Bartlett: But you want to affirm your support of those you don't want to cut and make your position clear on it?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I hope I have done so this morning, but I will continue to do so.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and fifth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:32 to 11:05 o'clock on Wednesday morning, March 27, 1957. In attendance: 212.

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/233156

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