Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

February 05, 1948

THE PRESIDENT. I have no special announcements to make this morning. If you want to ask some questions, I will try to answer them.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, what do you think of the reaction of some of your southern Democratic colleagues to your civil rights program?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that. The comments are being made in the press itself and over the radio. I have no comment.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, there has been quite a bit of inconclusive talk about a back balcony campaign, and just this last week there is some talk about an itinerary. I wonder if it's time to ask the--

THE PRESIDENT. They are both--I say they are both without foundation.

Q. I wonder if it's time to ask the jackpot question--

THE PRESIDENT. No, it isn't. [Laughter] You wouldn't get an answer.

Q.--if you choose to run in '48?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't answer the jackpot question this morning.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, at this moment the Attorney General is discussing new laws with the House Un-American Activities Committee, and I wonder whether, in drawing up the message on civil rights, whether the White House considered protection of Americans against smearing and things of that sort that have been talked about commonly in some committees in Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. The Constitution, containing the Bill of Rights, was the only document considered in the writing of that message.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, have you considered appointing Mr. Pauley to the Munitions Board?

THE PRESIDENT. Which Mr. Pauley?

Q. Ed Pauley.

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, it has been suggested by several groups here that the Belasco Theatre be made available for theatrical productions in Washington on a nondiscriminatory basis. Have you given any thought to that?


Q. Will you tell us what--

THE PRESIDENT. No, I cannot. The Treasury is using it for a storehouse now. We haven't got any place to store the documents that are in there.

Q. If it should become available, would you favor--

THE PRESIDENT. I will discuss that question if, as, and when it becomes available.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, what do you think the proposed cut in your budget would do to it? The House and Senate subcommittee has recommended lopping $2 1/2 billion off of it.

THE PRESIDENT. It seems to me that I heard a question like that last year, about what they were going to do to my budget. I asked for an expenditure of--I asked for an authorization for 37,500 millions, and then when the budget was finally wound up, it ended up with 37,700 million, which showed that it was a tight, well-organized budget. This budget is exactly the same sort. And it's the same line of conversation we had last year, and it will get nowhere exactly.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, there has been some talk about a southerner on the ticket for Vice President. Will you be in favor of that?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't discussed it with anybody.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, getting back to this talk of an itinerary, you [Laughter ]

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, you can't seem to get it off your mind. I will tell you what happened. I have countless invitations for appearances at various meetings in nearly every State in the Union. Every President has that. And the ones that we were discussing as to whether I should make an appearance were not political gatherings at all. And it was--no decision was reached as to whether I should appear at any of them or not. I have got more than I can do sitting right here at this desk, but sometimes we need a change of scenery, and the newspapermen need a ride--[ Laughter ]--so we have a party of that sort, once in a while.

Q. Mr. President, we are not going to have a revival of inspection trips, are we?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there's nothing to inspect right now. If a war was going on and we needed inspection trips, we would take them. I took many a one during the war. I think I traveled one hundred thousand miles on inspection trips during the war, and they were necessary.

Q. But you are considering a number of actual speeches?

THE PRESIDENT. I always consider invitations when they are sent to me in good faith.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, during the past week, two individuals, one the State Democratic Chairman from New Hampshire and another Democratic leader from Massachusetts, I believe, have announced that they were to go back to their States and--well, first get a strong delegation for you in the New Hampshire primary, and the other person is going to announce--to run as delegate for you at the July convention. They said they had authorization from you to make those announcements.

THE PRESIDENT. Every American has a right to do as he pleases in a political campaign. The matter was not discussed with me.

Q. Mr. President, would you be available for a draft by the Democratic Party?

THE PRESIDENT. We will discuss that when it appears. [Laughter]

Q. Discuss that when what, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. When it appears. That is another if, as, and when problem.

Q. Will you support the party nominee? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Certainly. I always have.

Q. Well, Mr. President, when we had Senator McGrath on the "Meet the Press," he slipped up and said that he was going to reelect Mr. Truman. We said how did he know, and he said he had a hunch.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that was a good hunch, I think.

Q. You have a hunch?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no hunches. [Laughter]

Q. You have no hunches?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no hunches.

Q. But his hunch is a good one?

THE PRESIDENT, It could be. [Laughter]

[10.] Q. Mr. President, what is your comment on the tax vote in the House--tax reduction bill--

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that when the bill comes before me for consideration.

[11.] Q. What do you think about the behavior of the commodity and stock markets?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know enough about the situation, only just what I read in the papers. I can't make any comment on that at the present time.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, are you still hopeful for meat control or rationing of any sort?

THE PRESIDENT. I am still in the same frame of mind that I was when I sent the anti-inflationary recommendations to the Congress. I feel just as I did at that time. That was in the message of November 17.1

1 see 1947 volume, this series, Item 224.

Q. As to the necessity?

THE PRESIDENT. As to the absolute necessity. I think it's shown that--if you are interested in the situation, I have here a new--I just happened to get from the Budget a new table on the situation--[ showing them]--which goes to show what has happened since that message went down. That message went down about--at this point here--[indicating]--and you see now they have had to put another block on this thing here, in order to get to the top.

Q. Is that on the price rise?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, that's the price rise. Notice, since they weakened rent control, what's happening to the rents. They have started on the same sort of a spiral that the rest of these things have taken, after controls were taken off.

Q. What are those lines, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. This black line here is on commodities. The dotted line is food, and the other is clothing. It is a most interesting study. Every month I get a rehash of this price situation, and it really is alarming.

Q. Mr. President, did the Budget Bureau put that out?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Yes. They prepared this for me in the Bureau--in conjunction with other bureaus interested in the question.

Q. Mr. President, the purpose of that chart shows, does it not, sir, that all prices-cost of living prices--have gone up since your message. Is that correct?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Yes. Very definitely.

Q. Is that food, clothing, and commodities?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, everything. Sure enough.

Q. Mr. President, does it show an increase in incomes, too?

THE PRESIDENT. No, this does not have anything to do with incomes. It is--I spoke of income, if you remember, in the Message on the State of the Union. The suggestion was made in the Budget Message on skimming off some of that cream at the top in profits.

Q. Are you going to make any new appeals to Congress on imposing price controls?

THE PRESIDENT. I am going to keep telling Congress just what the situation is, and the Congress will have to act itself. They have this information the same as I have. They know what is going on.

Q. Mr. President, the continuing argument against price control and rationing is that it will--kills production. Have you--

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think--I think that is a bad approach to the thing, because it didn't happen. It didn't happen when we had price control. Production was ample under price control to meet the situation. And I think that if we don't find some way to stop this awful spiral with which we are faced, we will go to the logical conclusion, which is to come down in a crash; and that we don't want to see.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, the British have been asked for no more wage increases or profits increases unless there are corresponding increases in production. Does that seem a good way to meet inflation?

THE PRESIDENT. I think if you will read my anti-inflation message of November 17, it will--your question will be answered.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, do you see merit in Henry Wallace's suggestion that all presidential candidates disavow support of parties or individuals who advocate violent overthrow of the Government, or who advocate white supremacy?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on that question.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and thirty-sixth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:35 a.m. on Thursday, February 5, 1948.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233079

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