Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

September 03, 1957

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. Please sit down. I have no announcements.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, is there anything that you can tell the American people in the light of the Russian announcement last week, and just what the status of development of our program for an intercontinental ballistic missile is at this point?

THE PRESIDENT. Any answer to your question, Mr. Arrowsmith, must observe the limits that are established by considerations of national security. And if you will read the Russian statement carefully, you will see that it is more notable for what it didn't say than for what it did say. Whenever it talked about the future, the translation is most evasive.

I can say a few things about this. First of all, let's remember this: the Russians never made any statement yet except for their own purposes, their own special purposes, and I don't know of any reason for giving it greater credence than many of the statements of the past, where they have been shown to be less than completely reliable.

Now, in this whole field, let us remember there are a number of things. There is a long distance between proving that you can fire one test instrument in a particular direction and achieve one result, and acquiring that instrument in sufficient numbers and sufficient reliability to be worthwhile tactically.

For a long time, the long-range missile is not going to provide the best means of delivering an explosive charge, and that is all it is for.

For a long time, there will be a changeover as they become perfected.

In our own case, we have spent many, many millions of dollars, as have other nations. We are continuing to do so on what is the highest priority that can possibly be devoted to the capacity of our scientific advancement and to the capacity of our whole, you might say, arrangements and organization to bring the thing forward; that is, testing, plans, and organization and the development, manufacture, and so on.

But the big thing to remember is that a mere tested vehicle is a long ways from actual production.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, over quite a wide section of the South today and this week, children are going back to school under difficult circumstances, in places where integration is being attempted for the first time.

We have a case in Arkansas this morning where the Governor has ordered State troops around a school that a Federal court had ordered integrated. I just wonder what you think of this situation.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, first, to say "what you think about it" is sort of a broad subject that you are giving me.

Actually, this particular incident came to my attention the first thing this morning. I have been in contact with the Attorney General's office. They are taking a look at it. They are going to find out exactly what has happened, and discuss this with the Federal judge. As of this moment, I cannot say anything further about the particular point, because that is all I know about it.

Now, time and again a number of people--I, among them-have argued that you cannot change people's hearts merely by laws. Laws presumably express the conscience of a nation and its determination or will to do something. But the laws here are to be executed gradually, according to the dictum of the Supreme Court, and I understand that the plan worked out by the school board of Little Rock was approved by the district judge. I believe it is a ten-year plan.

Now there seems to have been a road block thrown in the way of that plan, and the next decision will have to be by the lawyers and jurists.

Q. Charles S. von Fremd, CBS News: Mr. President, you told us at our last conference that you were tremendously disappointed with the record of Congress. Do you see any reason to reassess your evaluation?

THE PRESIDENT. No, riot much.

I have a little list. [Laughter]

Now, there are certain things: I think that the passing of the Middle East resolution was the legislative process at its best. It had bipartisan support--I am proud to say very heavy Republican support--but it was done and studied thoroughly and passed.

The U. S. participation in the International Atomic Energy Agency is certainly an advance, real advance.

The civil rights bill, as finally passed, I think, expresses the allegiance of the whole American people to the concept of equal political and economic rights for all.

And then the law for the protection of the FBI files, I think, was a very fine piece.

Now, there is a long list of measures that were not passed. There, examples are: The registration of union welfare and pension funds and the publication of the financial reports of unions, that was not passed.

The emergency corn program was killed.

The bill to limit highway advertising did not become law.

Tax relief for small business was put off.

Federal flood insurance program was killed.

There are others, like the interest rates on Government loans to be equal to the cost to the Federal Government of borrowing that money.

Very important postal rate increases were denied, and so continue a deficit that at the present time is over two million dollars a day.

And, finally, and most important to all of us, the mutual security program was not adequately supported in appropriations even though the Senate, on both sides of the aisle, made a very determined effort to increase the amounts that were provided.

I want to say a word again about this thing of mutual security.

What we are talking about here is defense, defense and security of the only kind that can be provided in a free world that is, at the best, a loosely-bound federation of free countries against a monolithic dictatorship.

In many of the forward areas that are facing the Eurasian land mass, we have bases and we have allies. Those allies provide the protection, the local protection, for our bases. The bases give to our intermediate bombers exactly the same capacity as the long-range bomber based in the United States, even greater, because it can make round trips faster.

Now, those nations cannot afford to keep the military forces that we and they believe are necessary to provide this protection and to provide this deterrent to Communist aggression. In many of them the annual earnings or the annual income of the individual, average annual income, is unbelievably small by our standards. Some of the better ones, I mean some of the higher ones, Greece and Turkey, those countries, $200 a year, how can they be expected to keep the forces that they need unless they have some help?

To my mind, the free world through this method is not only providing the cheapest, most economical security for itself that it can buy, it is procuring the only effective defense.

I think I need say to none of you that if you would attempt in any of these countries to deploy there American forces at the strength needed to provide the deterrents that are now being provided by native forces, we would, first of all, have to go to very large drafts at home, more of our American boys in uniform and abroad. But the cost would be stupendous, something that we can't even calculate in dollars at this moment.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, I went to the grocery store on Saturday, and everything seems to be up a cent or two. I stopped by the drug store, and a toothbrush cost a dime more. Taking a cab to work this morning cost a quarter more than last week. Is the Administration considering any special action in the form of controls or otherwise to put the brakes on the current round of inflation?

THE PRESIDENT. We are not considering legislative controls on the processes in our economy.

We believe in the long run that is self-defeating, and particularly if applied consistently in time of peace as a method of controlling our economy, you finally have an entirely different form of government--in other words, one that is centrally directed and will have no relationship to what we have now.

Now, that is not to say that the Government does not attempt to marshal all of its influence and authority to keep unnecessary price rises from occurring. This is done not only through meetings, constant meetings with different people of influence in the private economy, but the actions of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board, and other agencies that provide credit for the country are all directed in the attempt to keep down this price rise.

I cheerfully, or maybe I should say sorrowfully, admit that this problem of inflation is today our major internal problem; and we must all of us do our part. I am not advocating any buyers' strike, but I do know this: we should buy selectively and carefully, and not merely because we have the largest income in history, largest individual incomes, largest corporate incomes. We should not be spending recklessly and adding fuel to this flame.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: Mr. President, sir, in view of the Soviet military developments, and the negative Soviet attitude on the disarmament talks, plus the inflationary problem, do you intend to attempt to keep the military budget at the $38 billion figure for the next two fiscal years, '59 and '60, as has been reported?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you will recall this, that I have tried to make the difference between a new obligational authority and expenditure program.

I have come to believe that a very fine and adequate defense for the United States can at present prices be sustained with an expenditure program, if it can be planned in advance, at about 38 billion dollars. Now, manifestly, there is no sacrosanct nature of any particular figure of that kind. I am talking of that order, in that area.

I believe that as you go beyond, you get into things that are unnecessary, and if they are unnecessary, they are certainly unwise from the standpoint of the whole economy.

If you go below, I believe that you are getting into an area of unacceptable risk.

Q. William McGaffin, Chicago Daily News: Sir, it was about a year ago that you told us why you had decided to run again for the Presidential office. One of the reasons, I believe, sir, was that you wanted to continue your efforts to reshape the Republican Party.

I wonder, sir, if you could tell us whether you have ever regretted your decision to run again, what your thoughts are about the desirability of a second term, judging by your experience so far this term?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think we had this question of regret up a couple of weeks ago, and I pointed out that to regret would be to say that you regretted trying to do what you believed at that moment, at least, to be your duty. Besides, I don't know of anything more useless than regret. So there is no regret on my part.

Now, to say that I have been as successful as I hoped I would be in a great many directions would be untrue.

On the other hand, I am so constituted that I don't believe ever in giving up. I will continue to strive and struggle to apply what I think are conservative principles to the modern problems that we have so that not only in our legislative and governmental processes, but so far as I can help bring it about in our thinking processes, we will come to see the benefit of what I call the middle-of-the-road Government.

I realize that anybody that is trying to travel a middle road in any such thing as a great political process of the United States is attacked from both sides. I expect that, and if it were not so, I would think I were wrong. But I still believe that the adherence to conservative principles in the finances of the Government, in the relationship of the Government to the individual, to the State and to the locality, at the same time recognizing the needs of a great and growing population beset with all kinds of problems that were unknown to our ancestors, do demand different actions on the part of Government than were so in the past.

Now that is what I am trying to do, and I will keep trying.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Mr. President, would you analyze your idea of the Wisconsin election in its relation to Eisenhower Republicanism, and to the Republican Party in general?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think that my comments on it would be too enlightening, but there are two or three factors that I think should not be forgotten.

It's dangerous to take any one single phenomenon and reasoning to too wide a conclusion based on that single phenomenon.

Now, the national ticket in '56 carried Wisconsin very handsomely. Senator Wiley, an avowed supporter of the Administration, and fighting almost everybody in Wisconsin, had a tremendous majority.

I understand that in this election, 60 percent of the people who voted for Senator Wiley failed to vote for the Republican candidate in this election. This was a drop-off that couldn't be absorbed; and, to my mind, it comes about largely through an exaggeration of the principles and ideas that divide people that so many of you like to call the right and left wings of the Republican Party.

I had only a recent meeting with several Senators who are classed, I notice, publicly as right-wingers. They and I had quite a conference on the important questions of the day. We found no place where we were in opposite camps, and someone made the observation as we left, whichever wing we all belong to, it was the same one, and was not different ones.

Now, I believe that people have allowed themselves to be misled by a lot of slogans and catchwords that really have no validity in our politics.

Q. Anthony Lewis, New York Times: As to school integration, Mr. President, do you have any plans to take a personal part in the problem this fall, for example, by speaking on it or getting in touch with Governor Faubus of Arkansas?

THE PRESIDENT. My speaking will be always on this subject, as I have always done, urging Americans to recognize what America is, the concepts on which it is based, and to do their part so far as they possibly can to bring about the kind of America that was visualized by our forebears. Now, it is for this reason, because I know this is a slow process. The Supreme Court in its decision of '54 pointed out the emotional difficulties that would be encountered by Negroes if given equal but separate schools, and I think probably their reasoning was correct, at least I have no quarrel with it.

But there are very strong emotions on the other side, people that see a picture of a mongrelization of the race, they call it. They are very strong emotions, and we are going to whip this thing in the long run by Americans being true to themselves and not merely by law.

Q. John L. Steele, Time Magazine: Mr. President, in light of the apparent Soviet intransigent attitude on disarmament, do you regard the talks as deadlocked, or are there further steps that you now see possible ahead?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't see any particularly constructive step that we can take at this moment. There must be something happen on the other side that does not seem to be particularly likely. I believe there is a meeting this afternoon. And it is entirely possible that there will be some chink occur and be visible that is not visible at the moment.

Q. John L. Steele, Time Magazine: If I may, sir, can you tell us anything about the instructions that Mr. Stassen returned to London with after he came back here?

THE PRESIDENT. If you will take a look at the statement I issued, I think, about August 28,1 that is exactly what he is following--that line.

1For statement dated August 28, see Item 165 above.

Q. Charles W. Roberts, Newsweek: Sir, the estimates of the cut in your budget range all the way from four billion to somewhere in the vicinity of six point five billion.

I wonder what your own people tell you the budget cut amounts to, that is, your January budget as against the money that was finally appropriated, and how you feel about the budget cut now that the battle is over?

THE PRESIDENT. First of all, now let's remember that we are talking about new authorizations and not about an expenditure program.

The expenditure program for 1958 will be determined partly by the amounts made available by Congress in this last bill, but also partly, and very importantly, by the carryovers for things that have been ordered in the past. The expenditure program, therefore, is the money that the Government has to pay out of its pocket to meet the bills that come due in the fiscal year 1958, and we cannot always control those because they go back to contracts made a long time ago.

For example, starting in 1950, there were big contracts made for surplus aluminum, copper, and other metals that would occur if the additional facilities the Government wanted produced got to producing at full rate and the economy didn't absorb them. We are facing a very great expenditure program in those metals in the very near future unless some negotiations can bring about a betterment.

So, that is the expenditure part of the program, the things that you spend this year to pay the bills, and that was not very greatly affected by anything the Congress did.

So we are talking about the new authorizations and these calculations of from five to six and a half billion dollars; well, I would say that is a political interpretation.

To start with, there is some $330 million that was taken out of programs authorized by Congress, and which must be paid regardless of what happens. It is merely a guessing game on the part of Congress that these bills can be paid cheaper than we estimated. If they are not, we are compelled to go back in the spring and give them the deficiency that is incurred, and it must be paid. So that $330 million, we believe, it was nothing in the world but--but almost eyewash. However, it does make us come back and ask for a deficiency, with probably a complete and detailed account of what happened.

There was $300 million taken out of what we call the reserve or, I think, sometimes called unidentifiable deficiencies. It is a reserve for things that you couldn't calculate. They took that out, so that is another $300 million that is really a bookkeeping thing.

In the Defense and Commerce Departments they took $1.3 billion on transferring operational and revolving funds into operational costs. This means that they also reduced some of the procurement. This means that if your needs for the forces you are maintaining, when they become so acute that they have to be met, they will have to be met by later appropriations. Now, the bookkeeping total that they actually showed on their savings was about $3 billion. That did not count $900 million that would have been incurred in two items.

There was a $451 million item I had for school construction that was not enacted, so the appropriation had no point. Also they put mutual aid $400 million lower than the authorization bill.

So when you add this all up, with all of the things I have talked about, you find that the saving was on the order of 900 million to a billion dollars, and I recall that at the very beginning of this whole budget thing I pointed out that I would be delighted to have Congress examine each item closely, because economy had become more important than ever, and if they could save one to two percent out of this, I would be delighted. I note that they came up finally with a real saving of approximately one percent.

Q. John R. Gibson, Wall Street Journal: In light of these cuts in appropriations by Congress, could you tell us what the prospects are, sir, for the Administration to work up a fiscal 1959 budget which will allow some tax cut?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I just pointed out that there had been no real savings of the kind that would be involved in the amount of reserved money that would justify a tax cut. Now, this does not mean as the year goes on, if income goes up, if we can effect some savings of various kinds due to breaks that I have possibly even foreseen. Naturally you want to give a tax cut if you can, because I believe it will loosen up the economy in certain directions and have a good effect.

But what the Congress has done is really, in effective cuts, cut down something in the order of a billion dollars in new appropriations.

Q. Sarah McClendon, San Antonio Light: Sir, the reprogramming at the Pentagon has been alarming. One manufacturer said he had 17 times of this go-round, and that there must be a lot of money lost.

And last week, as soon as you signed a bill providing for a million and almost a half dollars to be spent at one base, why, they had cut it out entirely, and yet the request for that money had been made at the Pentagon.

In the last few hours of Congress, they shifted troops from a couple of bases in the Army, and then by afternoon they had announced that that order was cancelled.

Is there any move on your part, as they go into the plans for final budgeting this fall, is there any move to stop this reprogramming?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think you should go ask the Defense Department in such detail as you bring up to me. I assure you they don't come and ask my approval for every time they want to move a regiment from here to there.

Now, I have preached, and I think my own group has heard me preach it far oftener than this one has, I believe in stability in military planning. If you don't have stability you have unnecessary costs. That is the reason we are in the place we are in right now.

Does Congress mean by appropriating only 36 billion 200 million in new military appropriations, including construction, that they really intend to stay at that level of new appropriations? If it does, then what we are doing in the way of cutting back now is far, far too little because we are cutting back to meet a $38 billion expenditure program from the thing, and we believe we are doing it in such a way as not to hurt effectiveness.

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


Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and twenty-first news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:32 to 11:00 o'clock on Tuesday morning, September 3, 1957. In attendance: 194.

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/233516

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