Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

April 30, 1953

THE PRESIDENT. For several reasons, I shall want to take some of the time available to us today, actually to read to you a statement. Now, Mr. Hagerty tells me that a mimeograph of it is being made and is going to be over here before the conference is ended. If that is true, I suggest there is no need for your making notes during the time I am dealing with this paper.

The paper deals with an approach to the security problem, and there are three reasons that I should like to take it up today.

First, I have sent down today to the Congress a reorganizational plan for the Defense Department. It is not radical in most ways, certainly, but it does attempt to point up that organization so as to secure a greater effectiveness, economy, speed in action, and more rapid production of materiel that has been appropriated for.

Another reason is that there is just back, as you know, from Europe, a team which the administration sent over there: the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Defense, and the Director of Mutual Security. They have all returned, or at least all have returned except Secretary Wilson; and we have been having conferences on this same global problem.

And finally, I met this morning with some of the legislative leaders, and we had this problem up for a long and exhaustive discussion. So I want to give you really the approach that we are now making toward this problem.

[Reading] I would like to present to you in a general way, and with fairly broad strokes, what I consider the sensible framework within which the United States and its allies can present in hard military fact an ever more effective posture of defense. A true posture of defense is composed of three factors--spiritual, military, and economic. Today I shall talk only about the last two.

We Americans have frequently called for unity of basic purpose among our allies. I feel quite strongly that the least we can do is to display a similar continuity and unity in American purpose.

This policy of ours, therefore, will not be tied to any magic, critical year which then has to be "stretched out" because of economic or production problems, but will be based on the sounder theory that a very real danger not only exists this year, but may continue to exist for years to come; that our strength, which is already very real, must now be made stronger, not by inefficient and expensive starts and stops, but by steady continuous improvements.

I have always firmly believed that there is a great logic in the conduct of military affairs. There is an equally great logic in economic affairs. If these two logical disciplines can be wedded, it is then possible to create a situation of maximum military strength within economic capacities.

If, on the other hand, these two are allowed to proceed in disregard one for the other, you then create a situation either of doubtful military strength, or of such precarious economic strength that your military position is in constant jeopardy.

It has been the purpose of this administration ever since it took office, finding itself confronted with a crazy quilt of promises, commitments, and contracts, to bring American military logic and American economic logic into joint strong harness.

No more glaring illustration of the lack of balance between the military logic and the economic logic could possibly be found than the situation that existed when we took office. On the one hand, we found our allies deploring our unfulfilled defense promises. On the other hand, we found there was a total carryover of $81 billion in appropriated funds, largely committed, for which cash must be provided from revenues in future fiscal years, over and above the normal annual cost of government. It's just as if the late administration had gone to the store and ordered 81 billion dollars worth of goods, which we've got to pay for as they're delivered, in addition to paying the regular household running expenses.

The fiscal situation represented by these two extremes absolutely has to be brought into some kind of realistic focus, and the only way to do it is to have a completely new, fresh look without any misleading labels.

As you know, over the past years I have been involved in the European end of defense, and therefore I think I know all about paper divisions and cardboard wings. For the last 3 months, I have been heavily involved in the American end of defense, and day after day have had to struggle with the basic equation that links the military safety of this country and of the free world with the ability of the world to pay its bills and earn a living.

This morning I told the legislative leaders that already we can see our way clear to ask the Congress to appropriate at least 8 ½ billion less in new money for the fiscal year 1954 than had been asked for by the previous administration. This is a preliminary figure based on 3 months' hard work. The great bulk of it, of course, relates to security programs. More definite figures will become available as appropriation requests are presented to the Congress during the next few weeks.

You will note that I have been talking about the new appropriations for fiscal 1954. Actual cash savings for 1954 will be determined only as Congress acts on the appropriation requests.

These savings will not reduce the effective military strength we will deliver to ourselves and our allies during fiscal 1954. [Interrupts reading] Those deliveries are already appropriated for. They are already on the books and in contracts. [Continues reading]: Deliveries actually will be speeded up through the reduction of lead time, and concentration on producing those items which make the most military sense for the immediate future.

Establishing the most effective relationship between defense requirements and economic capability in these days is probably the most complex and ramified problem to be faced by any government. Practically everyone concerned with the problem can with some justification be a special pleader.

But I am sure that what the overwhelming majority of Americans want to believe is that their Government is working with diligence and intelligence to bring about as rapidly as possible a condition of true military strength. I also believe that the overwhelming majority of the people of the free world appreciate the fact that a healthy American economy and a functioning economy in their own home country are inseparable from true defense.

Furthermore, I have a deep conviction that all these people possess a fundamental common sense Which permits them to grasp the difference between a quiet, steady, long-term improvement in their defense position and the tempests stirred up by public arguments over the artificial arithmetic which is so easy to produce in the defense field.

The program we are presenting is a long-term program, calling for a steady and adequate flow of men and materials to present a position of genuine strength to any would-be aggressor.

The basic elements of our strategic problem have not materially changed in recent years, and certainly not in recent days. The areas and peoples vital to our Nation's welfare are the same as they have been for a long time. What we are doing is to adopt a new policy for the solution of the problem.

This change in policy is radical and cannot be effected overnight. There exists what is, in effect, a straitjacket, comprising prior authorizations, appropriations, and contracts.

The essence of the change is this. We reject the idea that we must build up to a maximum attainable strength for some specific date theoretically fixed for a specified time in the future. Defense is not a matter of maximum strength for a single date. It is a matter of adequate protection to be projected as far into the future as the actions and apparent purposes of others may compel us.

It is a policy that can, if necessary, be lived with over a period of years.

Finally, I would like to remind you of what I have said many times before, and will probably say many times again.

Security based upon heavy armaments is a way of life that has been forced upon us and on our allies. We don't like it; in fact, we hate it. But so long as such an unmistakable, self-confirmed threat to our freedom exists, we will carry these burdens with dedication and determination.

Our hope and our prayer is that this dedication and determination will bring about a world condition when we can once again return to the arts of peace, which we have always and will always cherish above all other arts.

That is the end of my statement. I read it because I wanted to make it exactly as I have been thinking over it in these recent days. Now gentlemen, the rest of the time is yours.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President, can you tell us of any specific field in which there will be a reduction, say, in the size of forces, or what effect this might have, say, on the Air Force, its plans to build up to--I think it's 143 groups?

THE PRESIDENT. As to long-term objectives that may have been specified, I can't tell you exactly what will be the effect. But I can tell you this: there will be more buildup in 1954 than was possible under the operations and the activities as they were proceeding in January of this year. This is due to the shortening up of lead times, and the concentration on critical areas and items.

Q. Mr. Folliard: May I put it this way, Mr. President? As a result of these cuts, will we have fewer people in the armed services in the days ahead?

THE PRESIDENT. If you look far enough ahead, Mr. Folliard, that is possibly true. We cannot tell yet, because we have been here only 90 days. There is a tremendous job of inspecting and analyzing of forces, personnel, activities throughout the world. It stretches all the way around the world, this activity of which we are speaking. It is impossible to find the utmost of efficiency, businesslike methods, starting right back at the production line, until you get to the end. So until we know what those examinations, analyses, and corrections will yield, we cannot say what the final result will be.

Q. Anthony Leviero, New York Times: Mr. President, this increased buildup in 1954, will that be in all three of the armed forces?

THE PRESIDENT. I should think so.

Q. Mr. Leviero: In general?

THE PRESIDENT. Again I say I should think so; and I say this advisedly: we have been going over these things--you do get a little bit confused in trying to remember exact detail.

But the fact is that in this coming year, there is nothing deducted in the way of money, and there is added the idea of shortening up of lead times, and getting these things proper.

Q. Richard Harkness, National Broadcasting Company: If you attain this preliminary figure of an $8½ billion decrease, sir, will that not mean a balanced Federal budget in the coming fiscal year?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it does not, because I particularly specified new money, money that you are requesting in new authorizations. To be exact, the budget now before the Congress asked for 72.9 billion. This is an 8.4--at least in that order, 8 1/2--reduction in that, that we now believe we can do after this 90 days. And I am giving you that, as I say, as a tentative figure. But that is not the deficit. The deficit comes about from the amount of the appropriated money of this year that will be spent, added to the amount of carried-over money that will be spent, and deduct from that your anticipated revenues. Incidentally, anticipated revenues will probably be a bit lower. Now, that is the deficit. Therefore the 9.9 which you probably had in your mind will not be reduced by 8.5. No, it will not.

Q. Edwin Dayton Moore, United Press: I want to get straightened out, is this 8.5 just in defense and military aid, or is it the overall?

THE PRESIDENT. Overall, and I said, the great bulk of which, of course, is in security programs.

Q. Mr. Moore: Will you give us some figures on military and foreign aid?


Q. Jack L. Bell, Associated Press: At least one Member of Congress has said your 8.5 savings in appropriations will be translated into a 4.4 savings in expenditures. Do you have such a figure? In other words, actual spending?

THE PRESIDENT. We have, of course, dealt with all kinds of figures, and the reason I told you that--actual figures or estimates are not going to be available until we go before Congress, Because there is no sense in creating confusion. We are not certain of those figures, and there will be changes, both in the expenditure figures and in the new appropriations figures. I am giving you simply the order of the savings that we expect to accomplish in the new appropriations.

Q. Mr. Bell: You are not prepared at this time to give any figure?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q. James R. Shepley, Time Magazine: Some of us are under the impression, sir, that this year of maximum exposure that you now discourage, came about because the Joint Chiefs of Staff thought that in 1954 the Soviets could deliver an atomic attack on the United States. Is there something now that is available to you and the Joint Chiefs of Staff which indicates that will not be a possibility?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not going to quarrel with their estimate on when they will have atomic bombs. But I do not admit that anyone can predict when, if ever, another government would want to launch global war. I just don't believe there is a necessary relationship between those two concepts.

Q. [Speaker unidentified], United Press: Is it true, sir, that considering the carryover funds and other money available, that there will be about as much money for our allies in the new year as in the present?

THE PRESIDENT. You mean as much money spent in 19547 I have forgotten the exact figure.

Q. About how much?

THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, I must tell you, I definitely determined not to talk in more exact figures than I have already given you today because I was so certain that some of them would become confused. I have dealt with nothing but figures for weeks. I will say this: the expenditure program for 1954, of course, is very largely fixed. As I said, it is in something of a straitjacket, so that the changes that will be made will be gradual. But I will not be more exact on the expenditure program for foreign aid in 1954 than that.

Q. Joseph R. Slevin, New York Journal of Commerce: Mr. President, could you explain in a little more detail how your long-range concept of a long-range program differs from the previous administration's military program, which called for reaching a peak of strength sometime in 1955, and then maintaining that strength over the long pull?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, let me ask you this: if you have a maximum production program, to reach maximum strength by July 1st, 1954--1955--or any other figure, how do you then suddenly level off and maintain it? It is simply not possible. You cannot suddenly reach with all your production lines up and say everything is shut off and becomes zero. You have a job of leveling this thing out, and it means it has to be approached really, literally, many, many months ahead. So it's a change--instead of going to a maximum in the belief you can predict at a certain point--to do this thing in as orderly a fashion, making always the economic factor the secondary, but the important support to your strictly defense factor.

Now, it is really no more susceptible of exact statement than that, but you cannot go full blast with all productive capacity to a single point and then suddenly just level off. You can't do it.

Q. Frank O'Brien, Jr., Associated Press: Since presumably not all of the 8.5 reduction in appropriations will be reduction in spending during fiscal 1954, is it now definite that there will not be a balanced budget for fiscal 1954?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think it would be safe to say that you can't achieve--I don't see how you can achieve complete balance in your expenditure program. I don't believe it could be done.

Q. Sarah McClendon, Texas papers: Mr. President, last fall, Congressman Mahon, who was then the chairman of the Military Appropriations Subcommittee, said that the House Appropriations Committee would cut the budget by 10 billion. Now, if they cut it below your 8.4 billion, would they seriously hamper the defense program, do you feel?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, if they cut very far, it would require very definite changes in policy, yes.

Actually, these people that I am talking about--the professional people, the civilians, everybody else--have been working very hard to find that money that you can find in a hurried or, you might say, an intensive but quick examination of this thing. There will finally be great or, at least, other savings accomplished.

When you get into the field of logistics, of procurement, storage, issue, evacuation, care of sick and wounded, there are lots of places; but I would say that those cuts cannot be made suddenly and in great amount without causing a great deal of embarrassment.

Q. Marvin Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Can you tell us, on the basis of the outline you have given us, what the possibilities seem to you to be for a tax cut now? Any change in that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I am not going to speculate on that one just now, Mr. Arrowsmith.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Do your figures, Mr. President, include an expenditure for the Korean war?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. They include certain items that have never been included before; for example, budgeting for ammunition.

Q. Mr. Wilson: Does that anticipate a reduction in the cost of the Korean war over last year?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't believe I have got the exact comparison of it, Mr. Wilson. I don't believe I have.

Q. Mr. Wilson: I would like to ask you one final question. Does your new policy indicate that there will be a new kind of a defense establishment? The point I am getting at--

THE PRESIDENT. Not radical, not radical. We do want to concentrate more on the latest weapons, and in this buildup that I am talking about--orderly buildup--constantly getting the latest and best to prevent the factor of obsolescence from overtaking us too quickly. That is one factor for which we take a little bit of credit.

Q. Mr. Wilson: Are those the critical items of which you speak?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, indeed.

Q. Mr. Wilson: Mr. President, do these figures in your program mean that there will be a new team on your Joint Chiefs of Staff after their terms expire?

THE PRESIDENT. I am afraid that is something you will have to talk to the Secretary of Defense about. That is his responsibility.

Q. Paul R. Leach, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, this question was asked a little while ago, but I did not get the answer clearly. You were asked if you regarded, with this reduction in cash spending, a reduction also in income, whether it is definite that there will not be a balanced budget for 1954 fiscal?

THE PRESIDENT. I said I thought it was safe to predict that complete balance in the expenditure program probably would not be achieved. I don't know; I don't see how the full amount can be met. However, I will tell you this: there is progress made in that direction every day.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Maine papers: Mr. President, if you open up the Key West agreement, will you open up also the roles and missions assignments made there?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I must tell you, Mrs. Craig, I am not going back into some of those things. I have got other things that occupy my time, and I have got people to go into them. Now finally it will--

Q. Mrs. Craig: I thought the message to Congress would mention this.

THE PRESIDENT.--it will be--there are certain philosophies of control, particularly emphasizing civilian control, that are contained in the plan that went to Congress today, and I assume that will be made public in a day or so.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, do you plan to spend some time in Colorado this summer?

THE PRESIDENT. I hope so. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. Smith: Could you give us a little run down on when we go? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will be perfectly frank with you. I think that whatever Congress does would determine something of my own moves. And I will promise this group this, if it is of any interest to you: as quickly as I get any real information on it, then I will let you know, and let you know what I expect to do; because I realize that you people, after all, go on vacations, too. I would like to go, and I am planning on doing it, if the situation here in Washington will allow me.

Q. Sterling F. Green, Associated Press: I wanted to ask whether there remains in your request a $1/2 billion item for production equipment to provide mobilization base?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't remember the size of that item. I don't remember the size of it.

Q. Mr. Green: Does it remain an identifiable item?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't see how you can take it out completely.

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Can you say, sir, in what year you do expect a balanced budget? Do your studies go that far?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would have to put it relatively. I must say that a great deal of my waking moments are given over to that problem. And we are going to do it. Now, that's all I can say.

Q. [Speaker unidentified], Journal of Commerce: Mr. President, since you expect to shorten lead time on military items, will the defense expenditures be greater over the next several months?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is probably true. I haven't asked for the exact schedule of output of money, but that would sound to me like it were true, yes. And it would mean also, of course, a very reduced carryover of money that is appropriated and has not yet been raised at the end of the fiscal year 1954. If you use up some of that carryover now, and then don't ask for as much new money as you have in the past, then you reduce that carryover from an $81 billion figure down to something else.

Q. Joseph A. Fox, Washington Evening Star: Mr. President, do we have an estimate of income for 1954 yet?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, we do; but as a matter of fact, I am not going to give it today, because this morning the question was raised as to its authenticity.

There is one in the budget now before Congress. You know that; I think it is--68.7 isn't it?--that is close to it. But there is some question raised about it.

Q. John O'Donnell, New York News: Mr. President, in regard to the Nelson committee study of the Defense departments, their recommendations which I imagine will be released very shortly--


Q. Mr. O'Donnell: Nelson Rockefeller. Oh, I beg your pardon. It is my mistake, sir.

THE. PRESIDENT. Go ahead. Now I am on the track.

Q. Mr. O'Donnell: I wanted to ask on what lines their views went toward reorganization of the Defense Department with this idea in mind, that over the years there had been two schools of thought, fundamentally: one that wanted to have a loose federation of the services, each one sovereign in its own right; and the other school of thought that wanted strong central control. I wanted to ask which, could you tell me--to which school of thought do you subscribe to--and the Nelson Rockefeller--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, first of all, I am not certain how the Nelson Rockefeller committee met that problem because, you see, they have been my committee for reorganizing in other departments of Government. And when it came to the Defense Department, because of the size of it, I loaned them to Mr. Wilson, who appointed a committee of his own, and they were incorporated into it. Now, just exactly what that committee felt about the points you raise, I don't know.

I do feel this: that all of us agree that each of these departments should be separately administered, that it is inconsistent, I should say, with good management that we don't have real central direction so far as there are any fields in which duplication or waste can occur. The business of war, and preparing for war, has just got so unconscionably expensive that we cannot waste one single dollar uselessly.

Now, the purpose of putting a strong business organization-which you devoutly hope will stay out of details that are none of its business; but after all, people are human, we understand that-their purpose is to save money through effective management for the United States of America. Now, that's what it is.

And what they have to do: I don't believe that any of us are smart enough--and I put in 40 years in that business, as you know--I don't believe any of us are smart enough to lay out a blueprint for a perfect organization. I believe you have to try something and correct it a little, and try something else and correct it a little. Sometimes you never really get done--we finally go to war, many things affect organization. So I think here, I hope we never get so rigid and solidified that we can't change when we need to.

Q. Thomas O'Neill, Baltimore Sun: Day before yesterday the Army announced they were taking the 5th Division out of service.

THE PRESIDENT. It did what?

Q. Mr. O'Neill: It was taking the 5th Division out of service-deactivating it--a training division. Was that done after consultation with you?

THE PRESIDENT. No, that would not have to come to me, and I haven't heard of it before.

Q. Mr. O'Neill: Will the budget reductions you are contemplating bring about a balanced cash budget in fiscal 1954, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. That is the third time that question has been asked, and I will answer it again. I don't think that it possibly can, because the expenditures for 1954 are already fixed by contracts, by commitments that we cannot get out of. It can't be done. That new money has nothing to do, really, with the cash budget for 1954.

Q. Mr. O'Neill: I was speaking of the--of the cash income and cash outgo, not the--

THE PRESIDENT. The income is fixed by tax law, isn't it? Not fixed by this budget that we are asking for at all. It is fixed by tax law. The outgo is fixed by plans that are already in existence, by appropriations that have already been made. Now, largely that is true. You have certain detailed differences.

But there is nothing much you can do about that particular item that you raise.

Q. Sarah McClendon, Texas papers: Sir, are you planning a conference Saturday with the Governor of Texas and the Governor of Colorado on the question of oil imports?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't heard of it. I am having all the Governors here very quickly; but the only thing I heard, I have been challenged to a golf game by one of the Governors. [Laughter]

Q. Mrs. McClendon: Which one?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it was Texas. I am afraid he's too good.

Q. [Speaker unidentified], Akron Beacon Journal: Mr. President, can you comment on Representative Ayres' of Ohio request to you to hold up a Veterans Administration order legalizing discounts on GI housing loans?

THE PRESIDENT. NO, I haven't heard it.

[Speaker unidentified]: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's eighth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building at 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, 1953.

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/231701

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