The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Are there any questions you would like to ask me?
Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Humphrey, said the other day that he feels the Administration's new budget is too high, that we are going to have a hair-curling depression if spending isn't cut, and he expressed the hope that Congress will be able to cut the budget.
Do you have any differences with him on those points?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you have picked out two or three points that he made in a very long discussion.
Now, in the first place, you will recall there was a memorandum that was the basis of that discussion, a written memorandum, and that written memorandum I not only went over every word of it, I edited it, and it expresses my convictions very thoroughly.
Now, with the need for our Government to operate to the absolute limit of efficiency, I think there can be no question in the minds of any of us.
When he said a hair-curling depression, he wasn't talking about the immediate future. I know I am speaking correctly, because I have talked to him about it since. He is talking about long-term continuation of spending of the order of which we are now doing. He believes that that will prevent the accumulation of the necessary capital to produce jobs, and would bring about bad results.
What was the third point, Mr. Arrowsmith?
Q. Mr. Arrowsmith: The third point was, he expressed the hope that Congress will be able to cut the budget in a proper way.
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
Well, in my own instructions to the Cabinet and heads of all offices, I have told them that every place that there is a chance to save a dollar out of the money that we have budgeted and may be appropriated by the Congress, that will go on through the entire period.
You must remember that we start to make up these budgets well over two years in advance of the last day of their application, so you are doing a great deal of estimating.
As the process of appropriating this money goes on everybody that is examining the many details--and any of you that have looked at a budget know how many details are in it, there are literally thousands and thousands--anybody that is examining that seriously ought to find some place where he might save another dollar.
If they can, I think if Congress can, its committees, it is their duty to do it.
So with the thought behind the Secretary's statements I am in complete agreement, even though he made statements that I don't believe have a present and immediate application because, indeed, the outlook for the next few months in the economic field is very good indeed.
Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Governor Adlai Stevenson says today in an article in Look Magazine that he has reason to believe that the National Security Council voted last year during the campaign unanimously to halt H-bomb tests.
I would like to ask you two questions: First, is Governor Stevenson right and, second, if he is, how does he have access to the decisions of the NSC?
THE PRESIDENT. Of course, as you know, as far as Intelligence was concerned, he was briefed all during the campaign, and I don't know exactly what information, you might say auxiliary to Intelligence, may have been given him.
Now, I can't either deny or affirm what he says because you know I make it a practice never to give a hint of what is a National Security Council conviction. But I can point out one thing, and I should: The National Security Council is set up to do one thing: advise the President. I make the decisions, and there is no use trying to put any responsibility on the National Security Council--it's mine.
Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: There has been a lot of speculation that you would meet fairly soon with Britain's new Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, and also reports that you will invite Marshal Tito and possibly other world leaders to visit this country during the coming year. Can you shed any light on this?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't be too specific, but I will give you the story on it.
I believe during the past four years some 43 heads of state or heads of government or at least high representatives, have come to this country to visit the Secretary of State or myself, with respect to some important thing affecting their country and ours.
Now, these visits between heads of state or heads of government are one way of promoting the great task that I tried to describe in my inaugural speech of the day before yesterday, which is the peace of the world.
These meetings can be of three kinds: one is ceremonial, sort of a good will trip; another is merely a visit of courtesy; and the third is business.
Now, I would hope that during these coming four years a good many people would come here. As you know, I have a disability about traveling that doesn't apply to many governments, for the simple reason I am both head of a state and head of a government. And because of that, I have constitutional duties that make it rather awkward for me to be absent from our country for any considerable time.
Others have appreciated this, and have come over here very freely without demanding that as a matter of courtesy I return the visit, and we have appreciated it.
Now, as you know, King Saud is on his way for one of these visits at this time. The others--there are a number with whom tentative negotiations have been undertaken, whose names I can't mention merely for this reason, they have asked that we keep it completely confidential until the arrangements are completely settled. Otherwise, I would tell you, because I know of no reason for keeping it a secret except at their own request.
Q. Ray L. Scherer, National Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, will there be any changes in your Cabinet?
THE PRESIDENT. Not now.
Q. Mr. Scherer: Later?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. [Laughter]
Q. Robert J. Donovan, New York Herald Tribune: The remarks of Soviet leaders have indicated a revival of Stalinism. This seems a far call from Geneva, and I wonder if you could tell us, sir: (1) is there a marked hardening of relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, an intensification of the cold war; and (2) do you contemplate any discussion or correspondence with Soviet leaders looking toward easing tensions?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you are asking questions about matters that really have to be handled day to day as they come up.
Now, I am not contemplating any correspondence for changing of attitudes, because I know of no point at this time that would be a proper subject for such a communication.
I can't really say that the Soviets are hardening their attitude or changing their attitude. After all, we are dealing with people who are rather unpredictable and, at times, they are just practically inexplicable, so far as we are concerned. So you go along announcing your views about peace in the world, what you are striving to do, why you are doing it, and then, for the rest of it, you meet them from time to time, or your diplomatic representatives do, in order to see whether it is possible to ameliorate the situation in which we find ourselves.
Q. Thomas N. Schroth, Congressional Quarterly: Sir, you have called for Modern Republicanism. Would you give us your assessment of where the stewardship for a program moving toward Modern Republicanism lies? Where should the leadership for such a program originate, and what form should it take?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know where it originates. I don't know why anyone should be stopped from having a good idea and putting it into effect. Certainly, I am going to stand for it with my full might, and I think that the major figures in the Republican Party, the vast majority of them, believe the same thing and, certainly, the Chairman of the National Committee has a responsibility.
Q. Frank van der Linden, Richmond Times Dispatch: Many of our editors are concerned over two restrictions on information. One is the Executive Order 10501 which concerns the news from the Government agencies; and the other is the ban on the entry of American correspondents into Communist China. Do you have any plans for modifying either one of those regulations soon?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I certainly couldn't keep in my head the provisions of all of the regulations this Government issues, and so I am not going to comment in detail on the first one. I will ask Mr. Hagerty to look up to see whether there is any reason for modifying--
As far as Communist China is concerned, I feel that as long as any power unjustly and improperly holds prisoners of ours and, in effect, uses them as a pressure upon us to make us conform to what they want done, then it is something with which I will have nothing to do. Until there is some change in that regard, I wouldn't consider changing that policy myself.
Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, some weeks ago at Augusta some of the reporters wrote that they had overheard you giving the dickens, shall we say, to Mr. Wilson for alleged leaks in the Pentagon. Nevertheless, the first news that the public-at-large got of your Middle Eastern doctrine, so-called, was through what has been termed an inspired leak from the Administration.
Against that background and in view of the fact that this is your first news conference in nearly two months, would you comment on speculation that it is going to be a policy of your Administration in the second term to have less formal contacts with newsmen; and I think it would also be helpful if you could, sir, just give your comments on what you think the function of a formal news conference is.
THE PRESIDENT. Well--[laughter]--you are asking a lot all in one question.
Now, to start with, I never heard of an inspired leak. I don't believe in such methods, and I don't trust them, so that I have never been party to an inspired leak, so-called. On the contrary, I think that when one person in the press world is given information about a subject, they all ought to have it at the same time. I have always dealt that way.
Now, my failure to have press conferences since some time in the middle of November has been a series of unusual events and activity on my part, and that is that.
As far as I am concerned, there is no change in policy whatsoever. As long as it is convenient to you people and to me, I will probably meet with you each week, as I have in the past, except when something intervenes.
Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: There is serious talk on the Hill of the dividing your Middle Eastern doctrine. How essential is it that the Armed Forces section and the economic and military aid be in one package?
THE PRESIDENT. To my mind, it is vital, Mr. Brandt.
You cannot do the things that need to be done, as I call it to wage the peace, merely with arms. You have got to have the human understanding of human wants, and you have got to make it possible for people to achieve something in satisfying those wants if we are going to wage peace successfully.
So to have one part of this without the other, I think, would destroy what we are really trying to do, because we don't want any weaker nation to be overcome by force, by subversive or by communistic influences. But, at the same time, if we limit ourselves to that, then I would say it was a self-defeating effort because we must, particularly by technical help, and sometimes by helping in investments, let them develop their resources so they can have a better life.
Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, I would like to refer back, sir, to the difference in emphasis between you and Secretary Humphrey.
When you--before you first came into office, I believe you expressed the hope that the spending of the Government might be reduced to $60 billion a year. Now you are asking for, perhaps, $72 billion. Some predict that it may go up beyond that in later years. Does this represent any basic change in your approach to Government?
THE PRESIDENT. No, it doesn't, Mr. Wilson.
First of all, you must remember this: Mr. Humphrey, himself, said that this budget was the best budget the entire Government, after many months of work, could bring out. In other words, he approved this budget without qualifications, although he is hopeful, as I am, of saving money out of it.
Now, the $72 billions, there have been two things that have come along that have raised the budget above what I hoped it could be. First of all are a great many raises in expenditures for personnel, and when you consider that you have two and a half million in the civil service, and three million in the military services, all of those raises are very significant in your budget.
But, secondly, we have gone into this guided missile field which, up until four years ago, was almost neglected--not neglected, it just hadn't come to the fore. And the new B-52 type of airplane and everything of that kind has gone up so much in expense that without getting any more strength, but in merely improving the efficiency of every kind of warning system, every kind of piece of fighting equipment that you have on land and on the sea, and raises in pay, you have got more than the amount that you have discussed--the differences that you have got to account for.
Q. Mr. Wilson: Wasn't it also a fact that in many of the domestic programs you have increased them, such as schools, and so on?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, we are providing this year for the first of four years in the school building program. And I will say this: as long as the American people demand and, in my opinion, deserve the kind of services that this budget provides, we have got to spend this kind of money. And I do believe every time you reach such conclusion it becomes more incumbent upon everybody in the Federal service to look for ways to save money administratively, through eliminating duplication and that sort of thing, because I agree with Secretary Humphrey, while our proportion of the gross national product we are now taking is no greater than it was, say, in '54, the fact is this is an awful lot of money to take out of an economy when you are trying to get the accumulations that will provide for more expansion, for more jobs, and for more home-building and that sort of thing. It's a lot of money.
Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Mr. President, sir, did your drought tour convince you that we must have some long-range legislation for drought relief in addition to your emergency allotments for funds?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you what first convinced me. The first thing we need is a lot of rain for a long time.
Q. Mrs. McClendon: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT. I think everybody that went on this trip became convinced of this: in the long run, no laws are going to solve this problem completely. There have got to be a lot of readjustments, of course, but we do have every single recommendation that was given to us at every station we stopped, together with all of the recommendations from that large fifteen-State convention at Wichita. They are under intensive study now and, I think, within a few days they are going to recommend to me such new legislation as may be applicable.
Q. Charles E. Shutt, Telenews: A few days ago, sir, the Communist leaders of Russia and China signed a pronouncement in Moscow saying, in effect, they would protect Middle East countries from any interference from the Eisenhower Doctrine. Can you give us your views, sir, as to what concern that might cause this Government for a conflict or general misunderstanding in the area?
THE PRESIDENT. If you will go to the resolution that I asked the Congress to pass, and which I mentioned a while ago is vital to our best interests and our security and to the security of that region, we said we will help those countries desiring it.
Now, let me say again there is no one, no government, we are trying to dominate. To dominate a country is to take on, if nothing else, responsibilities which we wouldn't want to be charged with. So they have to handle their own affairs, and we are not going to interfere in the internal affairs of any country. We stand ready to help, though, and prevent them from falling prey to the communistic influence.
Q. Lloyd M. Schwartz, Fairchild Publications: Mr. President, on your early proposals about disarmament and control of these guided missiles and other new weapons through the United Nations, can you give us some indication of how these goals will affect long-term spending for missiles, planes and other weapons, and also long-term research programs, military research programs?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, they are not going to affect them at all until we have some certainty that we have reached agreements that are enforceable. That is where there is good faith on both sides, demonstrated good faith.
Now, after that happens, then I would expect long-range programs such as you talk about and expenditures to come down markedly. But until the world can feel safer, I can think of nothing more foolish than to weaken our defensive strength.
Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland ( Maine ) Press Herald: Mr. President, in your proposed amendment of the Taft-Hartley Act, do you desire to deal with labor racketeering?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know, of course, in what all forms labor racketeering can occur; and in most cases, let us remember, the police power in our country remains with the State.
Now, I did ask last year, I think it was, maybe it was two years ago, urgently, that the welfare and pension funds of unions be opened to inspection. I consider them as, really, funds of a public trust character, and they ought to be open. I suppose that it is sometimes through those funds that this racketeering can take place--I am not sure--but I don't think that the Federal Government ought to get into the police power any further than is absolutely necessary.
Q. Mrs. Craig: You are aware of the hearings now going on in the Capitol in labor racketeering?
THE PRESIDENT. I know there are hearings going on.
Q. Mrs. Craig: Yes.
Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President--
THE PRESIDENT. Yes--excuse me just one minute, Ed. It is Congress' prerogative and responsibility to inquire into everything that affects any law they might wish to pass. So their investigating it, and the Federal executive department taking police authority in the same instance are two entirely different things.
Q. Mr. Folliard: Mr. President, it has been reported that you plan, or at least hope, to travel to some faraway places in the years ahead. Europe is mentioned, Hawaii. It sounds exciting. Is it true?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I wish I could take some of you people to nice places to go.
I have no immediate plans. Now, all of you, I think, have heard me express a great desire to go to a number of these vital places where I would like to go, visit with the governments, and see the people. But every time I do it I run into objections, obstacles, that finally make me give it up, and so, as of this moment, I have no plans to go anywhere outside the United States.
Q. Charles S. von Fremd, CBS News: After the Formosa Resolution you told us at a news conference here, sir, that should we ever need to do battle in the Far East that we would use smaller tactical atomic weapons.
If Congress passes this so-called Eisenhower Doctrine, and in some future date we had to use military strength in the Middle East, would you assume that we would also use the smaller tactical atomic weapons there?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't recall in exactly what context I ever said such a thing, because no military commander would say exactly how he is going to fight a war.
I suppose I said that we do regard these smaller weapons as an almost routine part of our equipment nowadays, and you would almost have to use them, the way our forces are organized in that area.
Now, as to a hypothetical question of what we would do to help defend a nation of the Middle East that asked for our help, I don't know what we would do and I wouldn't guess on it at all.
Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: Earlier this month the Negro leaders of Montgomery, Alabama, appealed to you to come south and speak out against the growing violence of the pro-segregationists there. Have you responded to that appeal?
THE PRESIDENT. The message came in and, I believe that Did Governor Adams make a [Conferring with Mr. Hagerty] Yes. Governor Adams merely stated that the point had been turned over to the Department of Justice for study and advice to me.
Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: Looking back, sir, over what happened in Poland and Hungary, could you tell us whether you subscribe to the belief that is sometimes expressed that the events in Eastern Europe have somewhat altered the military equation or balance between East and West, and whether you think, if that is true, this presents some opportunity for negotiation about Europe even including a thinning out or withdrawal of troops on both sides?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, the withdrawing or thinning out of troops on both sides could be accomplished only under mutual agreements in which we both, again, had some means of knowing they were being carried out.
With respect to these events, I have been one of those who, from the beginning, have insisted that any nation counting on forced levies from satellite nations held unwillingly under the power of the big nation, that that big nation can never with certainty count that as help. They might find something else.
So I have never believed that the satellite units were to be counted in the same category as a Russian unit when you are thinking of your problem, for instance, in NATO.
Q. Rowland Evans, Jr., New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President--
THE PRESIDENT. You will have to speak a little louder, please.
Q. Mr. Evans: Sir, one of the main points of resistance to your resolution in the Senate is--there seems to be no clear understanding of how the $200 million might be spent. Could you elaborate on that point, sir, a little bit further than you did on that to Mr. Brandt?
THE PRESIDENT. No, because the only way I can find out exactly how to spend the $200 million would be through the medium of the Richards mission which we expect to send to the Middle East, and which cannot leave until the resolution has been passed.
Now, one of the reasons it is going out is to explore with these countries the character of their needs, to reason with them. You see, many countries, in my opinion, want more military equipment than is good for them, because they get too much, it gets too expensive to maintain, and then their economy goes down instead of up.
It is that old thing of balancing the various kinds, the elements of your strength, the economic and the military as well as the morale. So I think that until we can get that kind of a study we wouldn't give any program of expenditure at all.
Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, could you please explain or clarify the Administration's policy in regard to Hungarian refugees; and, second, do you fear Communist infiltration in the body of refugees coming in?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't believe that Communist infiltration-the chances are very serious, for this simple reason, as explained by the Vice President. Every individual that comes out is vouched for or is criticized by all the group around him. These people know each other, and if one of these "secret" people gets in, there are others that are ready to condemn him at once.
Now, the policy is--I think I put it before the bipartisan meeting we had in the White House some weeks ago. I asked for an early action on the part of the legislature to regularize the presence here of the parolees that we have taken in just to keep the flow going--the analysis of each man's life, and all of that sort of thing--the process--and keep it going ahead. But until Congress acts there can be no fixed policy.
Q. Charles W. Bailey, Minneapolis Star and Tribune: Sir, in your budget message to Congress you said that certain changes were going to be requested in farm legislation affecting corn. Do you intend to send a specific proposal to Congress on that subject?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, actually they have been working on the exact language of such a message, and it will go down. Whether it goes directly from me or from the Department of Agriculture I don't know. Yes, there will be a message.
Q. Gould Lincoln, Washington Star: Mr. Leonard Hall has resigned as Chairman of the Republican National Committee and we have been led to understand that he may have a place in the Administration. Has there been any decision about that?
THE PRESIDENT. There is no decision whatsoever for any major changes at this time around here.
Now, of course, there will be some changes in ambassadorial posts, and some of those are under study now. But as of this moment as far as I can remember, there is no study going on now for the further future relief of any important individual.
Q. Eileen Shanahan, Journal of Commerce: Mr. President, what comment would you care to make on Secretary Humphrey's contention that deficit spending is never justified even as a tool to ease a recession?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, Secretary Humphrey was giving some of his convictions about a hypothetical situation.
Now, from the very time that I first agreed to enter politics, one of the questions that has been put at me most is, "What would you do to prevent a depression of the character that we experienced in the twenties [thirties]?" My answer has always been, I would do everything that was constitutional and the Federal Government could do. I do not believe there is any cure you can prescribe in advance for that sort of thing. But I do want to point out there is no such thing in prospect at this time and, frankly, I don't believe that one of the character of the twenties [thirties] can ever occur again.
I believe the social security payments, the unemployment insurance payments, the income that comes to people who were then indigent and were selling apples and walling the streets, tends to keep up purchasing power that would ameliorate the effects of a depression that might have a pretty good start.
Now, since our economy is a delicate thing, and you might see signs of a depression coming on you would think in two or three months, you begin then to apply moderate means, and then more, and if it kept going, finally you would go into every single thing, and very quickly, that would--if the thing got serious--that would correct the situation. And there would be no limit, I think, to what should be attempted as long as it was constitutional.
Q. John Scali, Associated Press: Mr. President, some Democrats, in criticizing the military half of your Middle East program, have contended that under the Constitution you already have the power to use the Armed Forces as you wish, and they go on to say that by going to Congress and asking for advance approval, first, to deal with the Formosa emergency, and now the Middle East, that you are creating a tradition which may restrict and embarrass future Presidents. Could you comment on this point, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
I realize that this has been a moot point for a long time in our form of government, just exactly what are the limits of the President's power for using the Armed Forces in time of peace.
You will recall the days when we used to land Marines in small countries to preserve order, and so on, preserve life.
Here is what I explained carefully when I was presenting my resolution. What we want now is an expression of the convictions of the vast portion of the American people without regard to party, that is the strong thing.
We are trying to prevent war, not fight one. So, to prevent a war, I would like the nations to know that America is largely one in our readiness to assume burdens and, where necessary, to assume risks to preserve the peace, because this peace is not going to be obtained in any cheap way and it is not going to be maintained in any cheap way.
We have got to look facts in the face, and we have got to realize that we do things today that a few years back in a slower, more methodical and easier-going life would not have been necessary. They are necessary now.
Q. Robert T. Hartmann, Los Angeles Times: Mr. President, I would like to ask you a rather personal question, sir, as to your feelings and emotions on the platform on Inauguration Day this time as compared with your first inaugural four years ago.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will just give you two slight ones that occurred to me.
One, a second inauguration on the same scale as the first one seemed to me to be rather odd, because a man is merely continuing, and it isn't a change. But as the plans developed and I saw the number of people wanting to come here, I realized that an inauguration, regardless of the individual, regardless of the number of times inaugurated, means an awful lot to this country and to these people.
And I will tell you this: when you stand up in front of America and take your oath to do your best in a job like this, you can't feel anything but solemn; that is correct.
Q. John L. Steele, Time Magazine: Mr. President, because this is our first meeting with you of the start of the second term, I wonder if you would care to name three or four accomplishments which you would hope for in your second administration, and that you would think that it might be judged on.
THE PRESIDENT. Look, everything else fades to unimportance besides this one: that we do make progress toward better world understanding achieved, I would say, in several steps. First, a better understanding among the free nations of the world, that is, better and stronger confidence among them, the certainty that their economic and military strength is equal to the test; and, after that, particularly, better understanding with the Russians, the Russian Government; and, finally, agreements in which we could all trust them.
Merriman Smith, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Eisenhower's one hundredth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 11:30 a.m. to 12:06 p.m., on Wednesday, January 23, 1957. In attendance: 270.
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/233517