The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. Ladies and gentlemen, I have an announcement about President Rhee's visit. I have invited him over here, and he is going to come on July 26th. Rather than take your time to tell about the visit in detail, I merely inform you there is a mimeographed paper outside that will be given to you to tell you about the details.
I want to say one thing about the tax bill which is, I believe, going into conference this morning. I think there has been quite a bit of misunderstanding about this tax bill.
I had this typed out so I would remember it, and give it exactly as I mean it. First of all, of course, I hope we get prompt action, but these are the things that have been forgotten.
This tax bill will help millions of Americans by better tax treatment, and here are a few of them: for child care, retired people and their widows, parents of children who work part time, people with sick and accident insurance, people with medical bills, farmers doing soil and water conservation, taxpayers with nonrelative dependents, and many others.
Then there are provisions for more flexible depreciation and better tax treatment of research expenses. These will help all business to modernize and expand, and be especially helpful to small businesses.
Most important, those provisions, by helping the economy expand, make more and better jobs.
I want to emphasize these points because we lose sight of the great and broad purpose of tax revision in some peculiar revision which we label with our own terms and slogans and headings. I just think we lose sight of these particular points, this kind of purpose that underlies this whole tax program.
Now, we will go to questions.
Q. Robert Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, do you have anything you can tell us generally about the Secretary of State's visit to Paris, particularly as it relates to our future participation in the Geneva conference ?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, first of all, let me tell you that I would expect an announcement shortly. I would advise all of you to keep in fairly close touch with Mr. Hagerty during the day; there may be some announcement.
But Mr. Dulles went to Paris because of our great concern to keep a united front in fundamentals, fundamental objectives and aims and principles with our principal allies, Great Britain and France; I mean principal allies in the subject we are now dealing with.
He went over there to see whether there was a common front in basic principle, so that our presence, through ministerial representation of some kind, would be helpful at Geneva and not damaging.
He is coming back soon; he will report to me. After he is here there will unquestionably be more to say on this subject. That is about the answer as it stands.
Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, is Under Secretary Smith going to Geneva?
THE PRESIDENT. I couldn't say, I couldn't answer yes or no at this moment; but I say if you do keep in touch, there may be some announcement on the future activity in which we will engage.
Q. Mr. Smith: In all respect, sir, is that going to be the announcement?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't know whether it will. The announcement may be that under--
I can't tell you, I am not going to predict; but I say it could affect that, of course.
Q. Charles S. von Fremd, CBS Television: Along the same lines, sir, it would seem that there has been growing alarm among our Western allies due to their sudden realization of the fact that they are caught between two tremendous countries, each possessing the A- and H-bomb, and capable, of course, each of delivering it, and possibly devastating their smaller countries.
Do you think that this possibly is the reason for their reluctance to enter into a pact such as EDC or the Far Eastern Alliance, and if so, is there anything that can be done to lessen or erase their fears in this matter?
THE PRESIDENT. I have brought this question up, I think voluntarily, in front of this body before, when I talked about the horrors of bombing, and how differently people feel who have been the victims of such a disaster than do we, who have been relatively free from it.
It is absolutely idle for us to think that we can sit here, in the relative security and assurances with which we have lived over these many years with respect to danger from a foreign foe as affects our homes, and figure out what the people of London and Coventry and Berlin and Essen, and people of that kind feel; so, of course, this has a very, very important influence in their reaching their decisions.
As a matter of fact, you will recall on December 8th I proposed the beginning of a little plan. It was in its way a very modest one, but it was to bring to all the people of the world a definite realization, a definite example, in their own hands and in their own consciences that this new development can help them and not destroy them.
I believe, if we can get the whole world to having right in front of them every day that this great discovery of the great scientists is helping us, it doesn't necessarily have to destroy us, I believe we will marshal a lot of world opinion in getting rid of this horrible cloud of threatened destruction that hangs over the world.
Now, that was really the underlying purpose of that plan and, as a matter of fact, I will just tell you this: I am not going to let it die, if I can possibly help it.
Q. Alan Emory, Watertown (N.Y.) Times: Sir, you have named Governor Jordan of Idaho to be Chairman of the United States section of the International Joint Commission and, I believe, as things stand now, he plans to take the office after his term as Governor expires on December 31st. Do you plan to name any interim chairman, sir, or will the office remain vacant as it has since February I ?
THE PRESIDENT. The particular point hasn't come to me. This is the first time I have thought of it in those terms, and I will have to get the answer. I will try to, and let you have it through Mr. Hagerty.
Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Sir, there are two bills put forward by your administration now on Capitol Hill before the Senate Judiciary Committee designed to curb the hundreds of thousands of Mexican wetbacks coming into this country. There is nothing being done now on that in the House. Do you plan to ask your congressional leaders to push this? I believe it is part of your program.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, it is part of the program, although I don't know whether it was one of the items listed in my January 8 presentation or not; but, of course, it is an important problem, and if it is being neglected, why, I will take it up. I didn't realize that it was, as you put it, sort of neglected. I didn't know that.
Q. Edward F. Creagh, Associated Press: Is there any comment, sir, on yesterday's action by the House regarding your health reinsurance program?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I hope you didn't invite me to use up the rest of our time making a speech. Ladies and gentlemen, in the campaign I made two promises that have to do with the health of the American people. I said, first, that I was opposed to socialized medicine and would use every single attribute and influence of the Presidential office to defeat any move toward socialized medicine; also, in talking about the great deficiencies in medical care in this country and, particularly, for people who can't afford the expensive type of service that is now available to us in our best hospitals, that something must be done. We were going to study ways and means to bring better medical care to the rural areas, and bring good and fine medical care within reach of the average household budget. This is what we have been trying to do.
I am sure that the people that voted against this bill just don't understand what are the facts of American life.
I don't consider that anyone lost yesterday, except the American people. There is nothing to be gained, as I see it, by shutting our eyes to the fact that all of our people are not getting the kind of medical care to which they are entitled. I do not believe there is any use in shutting our eyes to the fact that the American people are going to get that medical care in some form or other.
As I say, I am the last one to believe that the answer lies in socialized medicine, and I am trying to provide a plan. If they want to amend the plan or to perfect it in some way, go ahead; but when opponents of the plan get up in the House and say that this is only an effort of the Republicans to redeem our campaign promise, I plead guilty. Of course I am trying to redeem my campaign promises, and I will never cease trying.
This is only a temporary defeat; this thing will be carried forward as long as I am in this office.
Q. Nicholas P. Gregory, Philadelphia Inquirer: Mr. President, are you going to send a message to Congress for a rise in the debt limit?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, the whole problem will have to be taken up when all of the appropriation bills are in, when we know exactly where we stand.
Now, as you know, the fiscal situation is a delicate one, it is a tough one to handle all the time. Every time there is a new bill, it seems, new appropriations; and when you are trying to live within your income, it's tough. But I just don't believe, no matter what we have to do in order to meet our current bills, that we can proceed on the theory that we can forever just live on deficit spending; it can't be done.
Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post and Times Herald: Mr. President, the implication of the stories which have been coming from Paris on the Secretary's conference there appears to be that the United States is prepared, while not recognizing a Communist state in northern Viet-Nam, to guarantee the independence of the southern half and, possibly, of the other two states through a southeast Asia pact. The further implication is that we would be willing to commit force or use American armed force for that. Is that a fair assumption?
THE PRESIDENT. You ask an odd question, because I must say this: when anything, any plan, any proposition, is the subject of a difficult international conference, I think anyone commenting on it in advance--any responsible official--would be making a great error.
This is what I think: we should make no assumptions whatsoever on the thing until we really have the answer, because to make an assumption on one part can easily prejudice all other parts. So, I wouldn't want to comment.
Q. Lloyd Schwartz, Fairchild Publications: Mr. President, the other day on the Senate floor, Senator Capehart said that you supported his bill which would make the good faith meeting of a competitor's price a complete defense against price discrimination charges under the Robinson-Patman Act; and, as I understand it, since then about all industry groups, mainly in the food industry, have asked you to disavow the support of that legislation. I wonder if you could comment on that?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't because you are bringing up something that has not yet been brought specifically to my attention.
Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: Mr. President, the Senate Agriculture Committee has put a provision in the farm bill that it is working on now, to raise the price of butter, the support price, to 85 percent of parity. Does this strike you as a reasonable proposal or do you think it will discourage the use of butter?
THE PRESIDENT. I think it is a grave error. I believe that the only way we are going to get dairy products used is to have them used by the American people and at prices at which they will consume them.
Now, the consumption of butter has gone up something in the order of 7 percent since the Secretary, about 3 months ago, reduced the price support.
I would say, now, if you increased suddenly the price support, the people who would profit would be the middlemen who have this butter in their possession, people who have accumulated it at certain prices and have it in their storehouses and warehouses, and now suddenly can take it over to the Government and get a 10 percent increase--it is very nice business. I believe they would be the first ones that would be helped, and it would cost the Government a nice $100 million or something of that kind.
I believe that the dairy industry, in this butter business, is probably in better shape now than it has been for a long time, and we are beginning to get these things consumed almost at the rate produced.
Q. Mr. Scheibel: Sir, to go a bit further on the farm program, Governor Thornton of Colorado the other day said that he thought the farm program, your program, would be the No. I domestic issue in the campaign this fall. Do you agree with his assessment?
THE PRESIDENT. I hadn't heard that one. This is what I believe: if we get the essentials of that farm program passed, all of the United States will benefit, and by next fall they will understand that they are benefiting. That is, to my mind, the best kind of politics.
Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: Mr. President, can you tell us how you regard the candidacy of Clifford Case, who has been designated Republican candidate for Senator in New Jersey?
THE PRESIDENT. I am--[laughter]--I think I am caught a little bit on the horns of a dilemma, because I believe I said I would not talk about individuals.
I will say this: in all of my dealings with Congressman Case, I found him to be a very splendid American and dedicated to public service.
Q. Glenn Thompson, Cincinnati Enquirer: Mr. President, could you give us some ideas about how the $50 billion in highway building should be financed ?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think there is any one way. As a matter of fact, all I made was a proposition. I believe we are at least $50 billion behind in our road networks. We are suffering from it in losses of life; we are suffering from it every day in terms of inefficient operation of all of our transportation throughout the country.
Every city--even down--I had a report from a city yesterday of 22,000, and it said "Our No. 1 problem is parking." The parking space, the thruways, the great networks that we need, all of these must be done. Now, in the great part of these I very much favor these self-liquidating projects.
The Government has made the proposition that we are ready to do our part in going forward with this planning and exploring a way. I have no definite plan, although we have been studying it for a year with people from the outside because, of all people, we must have the Governors and legislatures in with us. Until they come to me and show me their proposition and something that we can get together on, it is really idle to say how any single project will be financed.
I think there could be certain cases in which the Federal Government would have to do it all, possibly, because of some particular Federal use; but, by and large, it should be local and, I would say, exploit the self-liquidating idea as far as is possible.
This, I should point out, that I am talking about has nothing to do with the normal road building that is going on now, in which the gasoline taxes and all that were involved. This is entirely over and above that.
Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mr. President, on the gasoline tax, what is your view on letting the States have some of those taxes?
THE PRESIDENT. As I recall, what was at issue this year was one-half a cent, and for the moment, we thought until this whole thing could be worked out and studied, we should continue as we had been rather than trying to make a change from which we couldn't retreat.
I don't believe that there is a final decision made, except this: that everybody to whom I have talked believes that we should put the maximum authority and responsibility in the States that they are capable of taking. If you put responsibilities there, you have got to let them have the money to do it.
Q. Frederick Kuh, Chicago Sun-Times: Mr. President, you said that you did not intend to let the proposal you made for an international pool of fissionable materials die.
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
Q. Mr. Kuh: I would like to ask whether you discussed with the British when they were here the possibility of going on with that plan, without the Russians; and if so, whether they have agreed to that?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you put this on a more formal basis than this conference really attained. This was a friendly exchange of views, and I am sure of this: my old friend would not want us to let this idea die merely because somebody else didn't agree to it.
Q. Martin Agronsky, American Broadcasting Company: There have been a lot of versions, sir, about the last campaign in which you withdrew a reference to General Marshall in the campaign speech in Wisconsin. The latest version comes from Governor Kohler, who said he induced you to withdraw it. I wonder if we could have your version, sir? It is pretty ancient political history now.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will tell you, it is ancient, and I never like to say anything or question anybody else's account when I don't have a record, because I have learned to distrust my own memory.
As I recall, and you will recall I hope, in Denver I made quite a little talk on General Marshall, my admiration for him, my belief in him as one of the great patriots that I had ever known, and one of the most selfless men that I had ever known.
Now, the only thing that I recall is that someone said, "Well, you are just going around and you are going to make this your speech. Haven't you said it enough?"
Now, I am not going to question anybody's word. Governor Kohler is a friend of mine, and he probably recalls this exactly. He possibly talked to some of the people around me, and it was just mentioned to me; because I don't recall any conversation, that is all.
Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Mr. President, it seems like it has been some time since somebody asked you if you were going to appoint a new TVA chairman.
THE PRESIDENT. YOU bet I am.
Q. Mr. van der Linden: Could you say yet who he is going to be, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't say this morning. [Laughter] I mean, I forget sometimes whether I have made things public already. I know who I am looking at, I will tell you that much. [Laughter]
Q. Fletcher Knebel, Cowels Publications: Mr. President, is it your hope, in connection with the tax bill, that the conference committee restores the tax credit on dividend income that the Senate cut out?
THE PRESIDENT. I would like to see the principle preserved. I have never on that particular item been adamant as to a particular scale or how much; I would like to see the principle preserved.
Q. George E. Herman, CBS Radio: Sir, the question of American participation in the Geneva conference brings up the broader question of American interests in all of southeast Asia. That applies not only to Indochina but, for instance, to Malaya, both of which countries are the provinces of particular Western nations. I would like to ask you, sir, how much you consider the problems, such as Indochina or Malaya, the province of France or England and how much the province of the Western World, the Western alliance, headed by the United States and our Government?
THE PRESIDENT. Why, I consider such problems completely global in character, particularly global as they affect free nations.
Wasn't it to this group that I talked about the importance of this whole area, let us say, to Japan? Didn't I take your time one morning doing that?
Q. Raymond Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT. All right.
How can the free world see Japan go communistic? I mean, if you answer that question, then you say how do we keep Japan out from communism, from falling under the domination, just through the force of economic circumstances? I think that the whole Eastern, or all the Asian problem becomes one that the world just can't ignore.
There is no use in saying because it is just across the Pacific from us, we are more interested than is Western Europe. The world is interested in this region. We want them to have the same fights of self-government, the same opportunity to enjoy freedom, as fast as any one of them are qualified for it, as we do ourselves.
Q. A. Robert Smith, Portland Oregonian: Mr. President, I have been trying to ascertain the administration's position more specifically on statehood for Alaska. At the Interior Department I hear that there are certain defense considerations there, but at the Pentagon there is no apparent apprehension on that count; and in both departments they suggest that at the White House there is a certain feeling in that regard. I wonder if you could clarify this whole matter?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, you are asking my personal opinion; you said "the White House." I suppose you mean me, because I think I know a little bit more about the military than anyone else at the White House. [Laughter]
Indeed, I am concerned. Anyone that looks at the map can see what the importance of Alaska, the Alaskan territorial expanse, is to the United States from a security standpoint. So I am very deeply concerned as to the fate of all of those outlying areas that lie, let us say, west of the 150th meridian and, let's say, north of the Yukon or Brooks Range.
Those regions are of tremendous importance, and I don't think I should say any more than that.
Q. John W. Vandercook, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, in that same connection, I don't quite understand the theory that a territory is necessarily easier to defend than a State. Could you explain that, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. I would say this: I don't say it is easier to defend; I say it is easier to use, because, in one case, it is under the absolute control of the central government, and in the other case it isn't.
Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, this is a personal question for those of us who have to follow you around. I wonder if you could tell us about your summer plans? We assume you are going to Denver shortly after the close of Congress.
THE PRESIDENT. I don't mind giving you a guess. I hope to go to Denver. Now, from there, I have made some tentative engagements for going to dams and fairs and, possibly, a convention or two. Altogether, I would say about three trips.
I would hope, if all goes well, to be out of here no later than, oh, I don't know, somewhere between August 15th and 17th, along in that region.
Now, if you people think you must go ahead and be a reconnaissance in force, why, I would think that would be all right; but I don't see how I can go much earlier.
Last year, you will recall, I tried to go right after Congress closed, and I had the bills follow me out there. But there are certain bills that you just have to talk over with your principal advisers, and to get that far away makes it a little awkward. I can carry out the personal and simple bills, but some of the others I just have to stay here and work out.
Q. Douglass Cater, The Reporter Magazine: Mr. President, as a Republican, do you have any personal opinion about Senator Flanders' resolution that he promises to call up this week?
THE PRESIDENT. I think I could safely leave that to the Senator.
Merriman Smith, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Eisenhower's forty-fourth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 11:01 to 11:27 o'clock on Wednesday morning, July 14, 1954. In attendance: 133.
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/232313