Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

January 29, 1948

THE PRESIDENT. I have no special announcements to make today, so if you want to ask questions I will try to answer them.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, what prompted you to replace Mr. Eccles 1 with this Philadelphia Republican?

THE PRESIDENT. That is my prerogative. I decided to make the change without anybody's request or influence.

1Marriner S. Eccles, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (see Item 13). The President had nominated Thomas B. McCabe as Chairman.

Q. Was it because--

THE PRESIDENT. The President has a right to do that if he wants to do that.

Q. Do you prefer Mr. McCabe's fiscal policies to Mr. Eccles's?

THE PRESIDENT. That question I will not answer.

Q. Mr. President, on that same question, Senator Tobey yesterday remarked that he was anxious to get to the bottom of what "forces"--I quote his words--"forces" persuaded you to make the change? Would you care to comment on Senator Tobey's remarks?

THE PRESIDENT. The President, of course, hasn't the right to use his prerogative under the law, has he?

Q. People would like an explanation, though.

THE PRESIDENT. It has been thoroughly explained by Mr. Eccles and Mr. Snyder, and several of the--

Q. There will be no explanation?

THE PRESIDENT. There will be no explanation.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, does it look like meat rationing is imminent?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't tell you that. The meat situation is becoming very acute and requests have been made about the necessity for meat rationing by Members of the Congress. One of the Assistant Secretaries of Agriculture testified up there today, in answer to a question, that meat rationing undoubtedly would be imminent on account of the shortage of meat. The administration has not yet come to that conclusion.

Q. Well, that statement of the Assistant Secretary was his own?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't see the statement. I don't know what he said.

Q. I thought you said that he had--

THE PRESIDENT. He had testified--I was told that he had testified up there that meat rationing was imminent. It may be true. I say that may be done--as soon as I get all the facts.

Q. Mr. President, would it be fair to say that meat rationing is being considered?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it is. Meat rationing has been considered ever since last November, when the request was made for certain powers in a standby capacity.

Q. Mr. President, are you referring to Mr. Brannan?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. He said that rationing without price control would be extremely risky. Do you agree with that?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes indeed. Price control must come first. No use having rationing if you don't have price control.

[After a pause in the questioning] Are you finished already? [Laughter]

[3.] Q. No sir--what do you think about General Eisenhower getting out of the presidential--

THE PRESIDENT. Wall, you know, General Eisenhower has the control of his own destiny, and if General Eisenhower thinks that was the best thing for General Eisenhower to do, I am for it. [Laughter]

[4.] Q. Mr. President, Governor Folsom of Alabama, who incidentally is 6 feet 8 inches tall--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, he has been in here-we almost had to raise the doorjamb up.

Q.--announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination the other day, and he was very critical of the administration. Have you anything to say about that?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I have no comment. Anybody that wants to get a headline can attack the President and get it.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, Chairman Wolcott of the House Banking Committee has charged that the administration is sanctioning the use of American corn abroad to make whisky. Have you any comment, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment. I know nothing about any such sanctions.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, you know there is a campaign on the Hill to lop that 2 billion 3 off the Marshall plan, or at least part of it. Do you have any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. The matter was explicitly explained in the budget that, in order to get ready to put the Marshall plan into effect, it is necessary to make the--fill the pipeline, and that is what the 2 billion 3 is for. It is very clearly set out in the budget. And it is absolutely essential, if we are going to carry out the plan as it should be carried out.

Q. Do you think that lopping it off later would tend to make it a relief rather than a recovery program?

THE PRESIDENT. It would. The recovery program is what--we must have the recovery program, or there isn't any use starting it.

Q. On the same subject, I wonder would you care to comment as to whether if the figure should be lopped the bulk of Latin America would suffer as a result?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that. I can't answer that question because I don't know.

Q. I was just wondering; then you think the 6 billion 8 is essential?

THE PRESIDENT. It iS absolutely essential. The program must be taken on as a whole over a period long enough to assure recovery in Europe. And that means peace in the world, if we can get recovery in Europe. And the plan was carefully thought out. It was worked on by the 16 nations that are interested in the matter. It was worked on in the State Department. It was worked on in the White House, and in the Cabinet. And the plan that we finally sent up to the Congress is one which we think will accomplish the purpose. And I think I told you once before that in 1945, along in October, after the Japanese had surrendered in August, I made a rescission of appropriations of 55 billions of dollars, and made a further rescission of some $7 billion--and a half, I think--in January or February, immediately following. That was for a 6-month period for war. That appropriation for 1946 fiscal year--from June 30, 1945, to June 30, 1946--was 103 billions of dollars.

Now it does seem to me that we can afford, over a 4-year period, to risk 17 billions of dollars for peace, which is less than one fourth of the half-year that was made a rescission under war. It seems to me a very sane expenditure for peace. That is what we are after. And the recovery of Europe is essential before we can have peace.

I feel very strongly on the subject. I think the welfare of this country and the welfare of the world is at stake in this European recovery plan. I don't think I can be any stronger--

Q. Mr. President, in order to get clarification, as that might be subject to misinterpretation, you said we must have this whole recovery program or there's no use starting it?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct. That is absolutely correct.

Q. Should be all or nothing, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. All or nothing. lust like throwing money down a rat hole unless we go through with the program and follow it to a logical conclusion.

Q. A detail on that, sir. Many witnesses before the Foreign Relations Committee are for the plan in general, but many of them suggest that it will not be good--it will not be properly worked out by the State Department alone, and must have industrial and businessmen. Would you care to say anything about that?

THE PRESIDENT. We expect to get the very best advice possible in the administration of the plan, and General Marshall is in favor of that, and so am I. And the administrative setup that I requested of the Congress is a sound one and is in line with what General Marshall wants.

Q. Mr. President, on that line, Secretary Marshall yesterday said he was willing to accept the Brookings Institution--

THE PRESIDENT. There is no difference between the Brookings plan and the one I sent the Congress, except in small details.

Q. So it's all right with you?

THE PRESIDENT. So it's all right with me.

Q. Mr. President, what is your answer to the contention that the present Congress cannot commit future Congresses to the appropriation of such funds--

THE PRESIDENT. That is not true. The Congress can make an authorization for contracts extending over a number of years. They do it all the time in reclamation and agriculture, and everything else.

Q. Mr. President, does your statement "all or nothing" mean that you would reject a bill that was less than 6.8 in authorizations?

THE PRESIDENT. I will attend to that when the bill comes up to me. It may be possible to reach a conclusion on the matter of a continuing program. And a continuing program is what I want. I don't want just a relief program for 1 year. We can talk about the money when it gets to me.

Q. How can this Congress assure you, sir, of a continuing program?

THE PRESIDENT. They can authorize the program, just as they authorize reclamation projects.

Q. Does that mean, Mr. President, that you want to go back to the plan that existed before Vandenberg wrote the letter to the State Department, in which he--

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think that affects them at all

Q. The $17 billion total?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think that affects them at all. I want a continuing program so that I know we are going to get the job done. The estimates are that it will take $17 billion to do it.

Q. For authorizations that you couldn't commit--

THE PRESIDENT. You can't commit more than one Congress on an appropriation, but you can commit the Congress on an authorization to carry out on a job. That is what I am after.

Q. Then that is kind of a wedge for the appropriation?

THE PRESIDENT. Certainly. That is what I want.

Q. Mr. President, may we quote the words "all or nothing"?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I think you had better not. They have been said by General Marshall, and I approve of what he said.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, is Harry Woodring getting any consideration as civilian governor of Germany, when the State Department takes over on July 1?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not commenting on personalities for that program yet, because it isn't in effect.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, in connection with the "all or nothing" statement, does that apply to the 6 billion 8?

THE PRESIDENT. No, that applies to the continuing program, to the whole continuing program.

Q. $17 billion?

THE PRESIDENT. The $17 billion program. To the 4-year program, let's put it that way. It may not be $17 billion, if Europe recovers faster than we think it will. They made a remarkable advance this year. Their products were increased by more than a billion dollars this year.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, can I go back to an earlier question, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Sure.

Q. You said there would be no explanation on the Eccles thing?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Does that mean that you believe then that the public is not entitled to an explanation on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I think the President has a right to appoint the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board as the law requires, and appoint anybody he chooses.

Q. Then, Mr. President, would you object to a Senate Banking and Currency Committee investigation of that appointment?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I would have no objection. They can investigate anything they choose. They can't investigate the President.

Q. They cannot?

THE PRESIDENT. No -- [laughter] -- the only way a President can be investigated is by impeachment.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, the question of another big three conference came up at Secretary Marshall's press conference yesterday. He referred the matter to the President. Would you comment on--

THE PRESIDENT. What was it?

Q.--the present plan--Mr. Marshall was told that Mr. Churchill had suggested again the need for another big three meeting, and would he comment, and he said to ask the President to comment on the subject.

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment, for I haven't seen Mr. Churchill's remarks. I saw the quotes in the paper, but I don't know exactly what Mr. Churchill said.

Q. But Mr. President

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment.

Q. You did say if there was going to be one, it would have to be in Washington. Is that still in your mind?

THE PRESIDENT. Still in my mind. It ought to be here in Washington. [Laughter]

[11.] Q. Mr. President, back to this Marshall plan--the bill as it stands now, if I recall correctly, carries a 4-year authorization without any stated sum of money.

THE PRESIDENT. That's right. That's perfectly all right. That's what I want, a 4-year authorization to carry on the plan, and we will call appropriations from year to year as they come up. The Congress can't commit another Congress on an appropriation. They can commit one on an authorization.

Q. But you are still opposed to lopping 2 billion 3--

THE PRESIDENT. The 2 billion 3 should not come off.

Q. Do you think the 2 billion 3 is necessary over the 4.5 billions--

THE PRESIDENT. If I didn't think so, I wouldn't have put it in there. I asked for it in the first place. [Laughter]

Q. That's the only point of difference on the Hill at this point, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, yes--and I think that won't be a point of difference when it is analyzed properly. If you will read one or two editorials which I have just been reading, you will find the analysis very good. One is in Bert Andrews' paper, 1 and the other is in Joe Fox's paper.2 Giving him another plug! [Laughter]

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

1 New York Herald Tribune.

2 Washington Evening Star.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and thirty-fifth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, January 29, 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/232626

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