Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

February 15, 1946

THE PRESIDENT. I have no particular statement to make to you today. I thought you might want to ask questions.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, are there any negotiations now in progress with other countries for bases overseas--for our bases overseas?

THE PRESIDENT. None that I know of.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, were you speaking in a Pickwickian sense when you asked Mr. Ickes to tell the truth about Mr. Pauley?

THE PRESIDENT. I never speak in a Pickwickian sense.

Q. Would you regard it, sir--would you regard Mr. Ickes's statement as an attempt to impugn your integrity?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think he would dare do that.

Q. Will you withdraw Mr. Pauley's nomination, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I will not.

Q. Do you expect Mr. Pauley may ask that it be withdrawn?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't expect that he will.

Q. Will you be embarrassed if he does withdraw it?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think I will be embarrassed by it.

Q. Did you consider Mr. Ickes a good public servant?


Q. Do you expect Mr. Pauley to be confirmed, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I do. Mr. Pauley is a good man. He made the best deal, I think, that has ever been made on a reparations program as an American representative on the Reparations Commission, both in Germany and in Japan; and the policy that he set is now being followed in Italy.

Q. What is the deal on Japan? I don't think that has ever been made public. Could you tell us about it ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't. It is not entirely complete as yet.

Q. Mr. President, how did you happen to announce Mr. Pauley for your man--how did it happen you picked out that particular job for him?

THE PRESIDENT. Because the Secretary of the Navy asked that Mr. Pauley be appointed to that position, and it was anticipated that President Roosevelt would appoint him to that position.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, when you sent General Marshall out to China, you gave him certain instructions, which you made public, on our objectives and our policies in China.

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Do you plan on doing the--doing the same thing with General Smith when you send him to Moscow?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I would not. It is an entirely different situation.

Q. Yes, they are. [Laughter]

[4.] Q. Mr. President, despite what was in Secretary Ickes's letter, there is still some confusion as to whether he ever did protest the idea of the Pauley appointment. There have been reports that he was asked that, and he did say he thought it was a bad one. Can you clear that up?

THE PRESIDENT. The only conversations I ever had with Mr. Ickes on Mr. Pauley, he complimented Mr. Pauley very highly as a good public servant.

Q. Since the nomination went up?

THE PRESIDENT. No, One time--not so long ago-July of last year, when Mr. Ickes was desiring to quit, if you remember, and I persuaded him to stay.

Q. Something was said about Pauley--

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Pauley had been one of his advisers in the Petroleum Administration for War, and he thought highly of him.

Q. Mr. President, in connection with that, in Mr. Ickes's statement you recall he said that the last time he saw you that the matter did come up, that he showed you Mr. Walsh's telegram, and then his closing line on that--sort of sally--was that the President said--that isn't close--tell the truth but go gentle on it.

THE PRESIDENT. I never saw Mr. Walsh's telegram. It was never shown to me in the Cabinet room, or on Friday after the Cabinet meeting. Mr. Ickes came and said that he had been summoned to testify on Mr. Pauley, and I said, "Well, tell the truth, and be kind to Pauley."

Q. Mr. President, were you familiar with the written memoranda that Mr. Ickes gave to the committee, when you said you thought Ickes might be mistaken?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I wasn't. I don't keep written memoranda for future use, and I didn't know that any of my Cabinet officers did, either.

Q. Mr. Ickes presented a series of written memoranda and made the--

THE PRESIDENT. I knew nothing about them, of course.

Q. Mr. President, may we have that sentence of yours repeated--Mr. Ickes said something after the Cabinet meeting?

THE PRESIDENT. He said he had been summoned to appear before the committee, on Mr. Pauley, and I stated to him, "Well, tell the truth, but be kind to Pauley."

Q. Did you tell him to be "as gentle," or "as kind"?

THE PRESIDENT. I said, "be kind."

Q. Do you recall when the Secretary of the Navy first recommended Mr. Pauley's appointment to that--

THE PRESIDENT. Back in November--a long time before Mr. Bard quit. I think it was back in November--maybe in October.

Q. October, 1945

THE PRESIDENT. Yes--of last year.

Q. Would you like to elaborate--

Q. Initiated by the Secretary of the Navy, sir?


Q. Could you elaborate on that, Mr. President, that President Roosevelt ha&--having had the intention to appoint him?

THE PRESIDENT. That is what the Secretary of the Navy informed me. I had not talked to Mr. Roosevelt about it before he died.

Q. Well, Mr. President, since the testimony of Mr. Pauley and Mr. Ickes differs on a single fact, do you have any choice as to which of them was telling the truth? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Are you going to try to insist that I call somebody a liar at a press conference? [More laughter]

Q. [Aside] Yes!

THE PRESIDENT. My suggestion to you would be to wait until all the evidence is in, and then draw your own conclusions.

Q. Do you think, sir, that the Justice Department ought to investigate to see which one is telling the truth ?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't see any reason for that. This is a political argument.

[5.] Q. Speaking of politics, sir, have you told your friends that you do not want to run for the nomination in 1948?.[Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. The first time I ever heard of that was what I saw--as Will Rogers used to say--what I saw that Mr. Reynolds had discussed in the paper. He hadn't discussed that matter with me, and Mr. Hannegan says he hasn't discussed the matter with him. I never heard of the conversation before.

Q. In that connection, sir, do you want to run in 1948? [Much laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Don't you think that you are being a little previous on that? When 1948 comes along, I will have to make a decision, which I will make. I am not thinking of 1948 now. I am trying to get through 1946. [More laughter]

[6.] Q. Mr. President, when might we expect an announcement concerning Mr. Ickes's successor in the Cabinet?

THE PRESIDENT. Just as soon as I can find the right man, I will let you know about it. I am not in any hurry about it.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us how you and the experts arrive at net worth in determining the basis for a fair return in the industry under the Executive order?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't attempt to arrive at it. That is not my job. That is what I have the experts for, and I don't bother my head with it. I have too many other things to think about.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, were you shown the white paper on Argentina before it was released? Does it carry your full approval?

THE PRESIDENT. The Argentine "blue book" was given to me, and I read it from cover to cover, and it was discussed by me with the Secretary of State and the Undersecretary of State; and I approved its release.

Q. Did you show it to Mr. Churchill, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I did not. Never discussed it with Mr. Churchill. I did not discuss anything with Mr. Churchill but the visit to Missouri.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, is there anything new on steel?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have nothing.

Q. When do you expect something on steel, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have been "expecting" since two weeks ago. [Laughter]

[10.] Q. Mr. President, could you tell us when the Executive order recreating the Office of Economic Stabilization will be issued?

THE PRESIDENT. Just as soon as it is prepared. It will be a very simple document, just simply reestablishing the Office of Economic Stabilization as it was before.

Q. That is under the OWMR?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

[11.] Q. May I refer back to one matter? Could you say whether you are considering Senator O'Mahoney as a possibility for the Interior post?

THE PRESIDENT. A great many Senators have recommended Senator O'Mahoney.

Q. Mr. President, is there a possibility of a Southerner being named to that--


Q.--as Secretary of the Interior?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not considering the situation geographically. I am trying to find the right man.

[12.] Q. Does Mr. Bowles report to you or to Mr. Snyder?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Bowles is in the office of Mr. Snyder.

Q. He reports to Mr. Snyder?


[13.] Q. Could you tell us, Mr. President, whether you are considering liberality-whether he should be a liberal or not?

THE PRESIDENT. I want a man who is administratively capable of running the Interior Department, and I am--and the only thing I am going to inquire into are his qualifications to operate that department.

[14.] Q. Has Mr. Bowles agreed to that setup?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Mr. Bowles, Mr. Snyder, and everybody in those two offices told me in the conference we had yesterday that they wanted to cooperate wholeheartedly with me to carry out the objectives in the Executive order which was issued yesterday. Everybody is in agreement, and everybody is happy with the order as it is drawn; and it has been stated by both of the former men who were the heads of OWMR that they think it is an excellent order--that is, Mr. Byrnes and Mr. Vinson. Everybody is in agreement on the order, and everybody has told me personally that he expected to cooperate fully to carry it out.

Q. Doesn't include Mr. Green of the A.F. of L. does it, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't talk to Mr. Green, or Mr. Murray either one, myself personally. I think they will go along.

Q. Have you heard from steel?

THE PRESIDENT. It is in their interest to do it.

Q. Have you heard from steel, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. About what?

Q. About the price formula?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I haven't discussed it with steel.

Q. Mr. President, is Snyder authorized to take exception to anything Mr. Bowles reports to him?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Snyder is the head of the OWMR. He and Mr. Bowles have agreed to cooperate fully. Mr. Snyder is the head of the OWMR.

Q. Specifically, Mr. President, getting at one question, you do not expect Mr. Bowles to resign then, because his office has been placed under Mr. Snyder?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I do not. If Mr. Bowles were going to resign he would have resigned at the meeting.

Q. In case there was argument between them, which one opinion would prevail? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I would settle it.

Q. You would settle it?

THE PRESIDENT, If it became necessary, I would settle it.

Q. The decisions of Mr. Snyder would be on a high level with Mr. Bowles, and if they still differed it would come to you?


[15.] Q. Mr. President, is Judge Collet going back to the bench in Kansas City?

THE PRESIDENT. Judge Collet has been a most excellent public servant. I don't want to lose his services. I will use him at a later date.

Q. Mr. President, who makes decisions under the new setup as between prices and wages?

THE PRESIDENT. That is the Stabilization Director's duty, as specifically set out in the order. If you will read paragraph 4, it carefully sets out what the Stabilization Director should do.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, can you say what is standing in the way now of the steel agreement?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I don't know what's standing in the way of it. Negotiations are going on between the parties. That's the way I want these matters settled. I want the parties to negotiate and settle their differences, if they possibly can.

Q. Mr. President, can you say just what price increase has been offered to U.S. Steel?

THE PRESIDENT. The price is $5 a ton on the average.

Q. Has that been formally offered--

Mr. John Snyder: That will be fully explained.

Q.--or just by word of mouth?

THE PRESIDENT. That will be fully explained when the steel strike is settled.

Q. Does that include $5 for fabricated steel, as well as--

THE PRESIDENT. No, it does not. It is an average of the OPA--the way the OPA sets those things up. It has been just exactly what two and a half and four dollars would have been.

Mr. Snyder: [Aside] Carbon and alloy steel.1

1On February 18, Judge John C. Collet, Stabilization Administrator, announced in a statement released by the White House that in line with the President's policy he was directing an increase in maximum prices for carbon and alloy steel products in such amounts as in the judgment of the Price Administrator would be equivalent to an increase of $5 per ton for all carbon and alloy steel mill products.

Q. Mr. President, are you still calling this a hold-the-line policy?


Q. On the--

THE PRESIDENT, I beg your pardon?

Q. Is it a new line you are holding?

THE PRESIDENT, No, it isn't. It's a bulge in the old line. [Laughter] You have heard of bulges in military lines, haven't you? [More laughter]

Q. You don't expect a breakthrough, do you, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I do not. If you will all cooperate with me, there will be no breakthrough.

Q. Mr. President, may we quote that word "bulge"?


Q. May we quote those two sentences?

Q. Do you expect to close out that bulge, as other bulges have been?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I do. That is the objective that we have in view. And everybody is in line to help do that very thing. And we must do that, unless we want wild inflation. That is the reason we are trying to get controls on real estate, and everything.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any other job in line for Mr. Ickes?

THE PRESIDENT. What do you think? [Laughter]

[18.] Q. Mr. President, could I repeat your answer that you said we could quote direct: "No, it is not. It is a bulge in the old line. If you will all cooperate with me, there will be no breakthrough"?

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct. That is just what I said.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, has the alleged plight of the smaller steel companies, about 800 of them, in--under the overall price increase, been brought to your attention?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it hasn't. The negotiations are between Mr. Murray and the steel companies, and I didn't go into details on the matter. That was not my business.

Q. Have you any opinion on when the steel strike will be settled?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't. I have expressed it on one--several occasions. We will just wait now, and see what happens. Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Q. That was very nice, Mr. President.

Q. You're a good ballplayer.

THE PRESIDENT. For Heaven's sake don't try to break up my play. [Laughter]

Note: President Truman's forty-eighth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m.. on Friday, February 15, 1946.

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/232465

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