Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

April 02, 1953

THE PRESIDENT. Please sit down. We don't have our friends [the photographers] with us today.

This morning there went to the Congress the third reorganization plan for the Government. It involves the Office of Defense Mobilization, the National Security Resources Board, and the old War Production Administration--all three consolidated into one office, which will now be called the Office of Defense Mobilization.

Of course, we expect this not only to result in a considerable increase in efficiency by centralizing these functions where they should be centralized, including the direction of our efforts at stockpiling, but it will be a much more streamlined organization than the three overlapping ones were in the past.

I was looking for some little announcement to make of my own. That was it. Ladies and gentlemen, we will go right to the questions.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, what is your estimation or analysis of the recent peace overtures from Russia and Communist China?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Smith, it is very difficult to say that any speculation on this affair should be dignified with the term "analysis." You really are doing some pretty definite guessing. But I think in this whole business of the peace approach, in which the hearts of America are so deeply involved, that we should take at face value every offer that is made to us, until it is proved not to be worthy of being so taken. By that I do not mean that we ignore the history of the past and some of the frustrating experiences we have had in trying to promote peaceful arrangements with some of the people with whom we would now have to deal. But I do say, here is something that, when the proffer comes along, we should go right at it like it is meant exactly as it is said.

Now, in the proposal made by the Chinese commanders in Korea, which was in response to a request made by General Clark in February, and in line with the recommendations that the United Nations side of the negotiators have repeated over and over again, it was stated that it was believed that the exchange of sick and wounded prisoners during hostilities would do much to promote negotiations for an armistice.

We have, therefore, the hope that this exchange of sick and wounded prisoners will be quickly accomplished. Certainly, to my mind, that would be clear indication that deeds, rather than words and more frustrating conversations, are now to come into fashion--something that certainly every right-thinking person would welcome very heartily.

Therefore, without speculating further as to the motivation lying behind this, I should just say this Government is prepared to meet every honest advance, and in this instance, for example, has been trying to arrange this for a long, long time.

Q. Anthony H. Leviero, New York Times: Mr. President, you have commented on the Bricker resolution, which attempts to restrict your treaty-making powers. Now we have an instance of a Senator who negotiates an agreement that bears on foreign policy. I just want to ask you if you would comment, insofar as it bears on the prerogatives of the Presidency?

THE PRESIDENT. Every Senator or Member of Congress, every committee, subcommittee, has a right in their investigative and other processes to give advice to individuals, to indicate the judgment of the speaker as to what he believes our country might do under a given set of circumstances. But the power to negotiate, the responsibility for negotiating with others, rests absolutely and completely in the Executive. And this fact, of course, being so obvious, has universal recognition, including recognition by every Senator that I know. That excludes no one, and so stated the Senator to Mr. Dulles himself, yesterday.

So there is no effort here, at least so far as reported through the communications we have, to take over the power of negotiating on behalf of our Government.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, would you agree that Senator McCarthy's actions on the Greek ship matter had undermined administration policy?

THE PRESIDENT. You have asked a question, of course, that is one of opinion; many people can have different kinds of answers.

I think not, because I think there is sufficient power in the Secretary of State, and in the Presidency, to remind all peoples-others, and including our own--that the exclusive power of negotiating such arrangements, anything that is legal, belongs to the Executive, and comes into being when two-thirds of the Senate ratify.

So I doubt that an action--even, let us say, that we would agree it was misguided; if that were so, I doubt that act can undermine the prestige and the power that resides in the Government and in its various parts as viewed by the Constitution.

Q. David P. Sentner, Hearst Newspapers: Mr. President, have you discussed, or will you discuss with Ambassador Bohlen, the possibility of a meeting between yourself and Premier Malenkov?

THE PRESIDENT. I do not expect to see the Ambassador again before he leaves. As a matter of fact, I saw him this afternoon. We did not discuss that particular point because as I see it, there is no basis, at the moment, for discussing it.

Q. [Speaker unidentified]: Mr. President, there seems to be considerable unhappiness among some Congressmen, and some editors, over a charge that Secretary Weeks has dismissed the Director of the Bureau of Standards without hearing his side of all charges which appear to reflect basically on his good character and integrity. I wonder if you would comment on that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't, for the simple reason that no such report has reached my ears. This is the first time I have heard it, so I can't possibly comment.

Mr. Weeks forwarded to me an application for resignation, and I accepted it. Now, if there is any such thing as this behind it, I know nothing about it at this moment. But I do have faith that Secretary Weeks will be the last person to be arbitrary and unjust in such circumstances.

Q. [Speaker unidentified], United Press: Mr. President, would you accept an invitation for the United States to participate in the Anglo-Soviet air safety talks in Berlin, or has such an invitation come to you?

THE PRESIDENT. No such invitation has come to me, and of course, any invitation would have to be examined on exactly what it says; but if it were one that looked like there would be useful discussions, why I would think the Secretary of State would recommend its acceptance.

Q. Lloyd M. Schwartz, Fairchild Papers: Mr. President, I wonder if you could tell us your view of the Simpson bill for extending the reciprocal trade agreements act, which is being represented by some as a high tariff bill, and whether the administration will have a bill of its own?

THE PRESIDENT. I have forgotten now--[confers with Mr. Hagerty]--as a matter of fact, I have to check my memory, not as to what has been done but as to whether it has been done at a time that I am free to talk. I am merely trying to be as helpful as I can to any legitimate question.

I just want to say this: the matter has been under earnest study for a long time. Long before I came down to Washington, I convened people to look at this thing. We are going to try to decide it on the overall good, and I hope that there will be no necessity for yielding to any narrow consideration in the whole business.

Now, I am informed by Mr. Hagerty that these negotiations have not yet gotten to the point that I am free to talk about them.

Q. Paul R. Leach, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, in December 1951, President Truman issued an Executive order permitting all the departments of Government--all the heads of departments--to classify information, which was regarded by a good many newspaper editors as restricting the flow of news to the press. There have been some reports that that was to be rescinded or amended. Is that contemplated, or has it been done?

THE PRESIDENT. It is one of the things, of course, that has been mentioned from time to time. I have not yet personally gotten into it. But I did have this to say about the thing within my own family: that if any press man has a specific instance where this rule or Executive order has been applied to what he believes to be the detriment of the proper functions of the newspaper world, I wish he would give the specific instance to my Press Secretary and let me take a look.

I do believe, by and large, as you people well know, in the principle of decentralization. I do not believe that there should be an attempt, as there frequently is in some governments, to centralize power too much in the hands of one person, particularly administrative power. It tends to slow up and it tends to make impossible the work that you people would largely do otherwise.

So I would like to see those people responsible for their own actions. But if that action becomes what experience would show to be inadvisable, or it tends toward unjust choking off and strangling of news, I would like to know about it before I proceed to--towards action.

I do assure you it is not forgotten. It has just been something that we have not gotten to in the analysis and study.

Q. [Speaker unidentified]: Mr. President, you were represented today by Speaker Martin as favoring straight 1-year extension of the reciprocal trade agreements act, presumably pending further study that you have mentioned. Could you say whether you favor such an interim extension now?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes I do. If he announced that--that is perfectly clear, that's exactly my position. I do not believe that it is possible to settle these questions specifically on the various aspects of the welfare of the United States, except with a more profound study than has been possible to make.

Consequently, if he has already stated that--and I am taking your report that he has--why, I stand by it.

Q. G. Gould Lincoln, Washington Evening Star: Mr. President, has there been a crystallization on selection of a Republican National Chairman, and is former Representative Leonard Hall a likely choice?

THE PRESIDENT. So far as I know, there has been none. Now, as you well know, that is not my prerogative, to select a National Chairman. As I told you when it was mentioned before, I assume that my wishes and desires would have a very considerable influence, so I am not trying to divest myself of responsibility; but I think it will be a job that the National Committee, in collaboration with all of the leaders of the party everywhere, will have to undertake with the utmost seriousness.

And the only thing I can say: I am going to try to find a man who commands the highest respect from every way that I can find, as far as my own choice of person is to be considered.

As for Mr. Hall, I have heard his name along with a dozen others mentioned, but I haven't heard any drive on the part of anybody. I don't know whether anyone really wants the job.

Q. [Speaker unidentified]: Mr. President, I understood before leaving office, President Truman sent you a report of the Contract Compliance Committee, which was set up to eliminate discrimination in plants with Government contracts. That Committee doesn't have a chairman now, and many of the members are resigning. What steps have been taken to vitalize that group by appointing a chairman for the Committee, and public officers-public members, that is?

THE PRESIDENT. Again, I am sorry; you have asked me a question that I will have to answer next week. That has not been reported to me--that we are lacking a chairman in it. We will look it up, and I will try to give you an answer.

Q. [Speaker unidentified], Baltimore Sun: Mr. President, I would like to go back to this other question. I wonder if you would consider it in the national interest for a congressional committee to undertake negotiations--conduct negotiations with foreign ship owners, to get an embargo on trading with Communist countries?

THE PRESIDENT. Personally, I don't believe they can possibly have the facts that would make such negotiations really profitable, unless the fact in some matter were so obvious that there was universal, unquestioned agreement, and they might have some personal contact that might work out for the good of the United States. I wouldn't say.

You know, there is an aphorism "There is no never." Well, I am not going to say there never could be any good come out of such things. I should say, on the average, now, I would doubt it.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Mr. President, on Monday, Harold Stassen told Senator McCarthy's committee that he thought the Senator's actions in the Greek ship deal did undermine the efforts that his Agency was making to try to block off East-West trade. In your reply earlier this afternoon, you indicated that those acts did not undermine the prestige of Government, and I thought that that statement was open to the interpretation that you disagreed with Mr. Stassen's position?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I disagree. this much, possibly, Mr. Reston. As I understand it, this discussion came up on the word negotiation, which you will remember I used this afternoon very distinctly and emphatically. He said the attempt to negotiate agreements was an infringement--I think he probably meant infringement more than he did undermining--and I was also trying to make clear that to undermine required a lot more doing than merely making an error, no matter how badly I might consider the error to be.

So that I think in Senator McCarthy's later statements, as I understand them and the Secretary does, he had no idea he was negotiating anything; and as long as he is not, he is probably in his proper function. He can discuss, suggest, advise--and that's all right; but negotiating is something else. I tried to make that clear.

Q. Mr. Reston: Mr. President, I wonder if your attention has been called to his Saturday announcement, which was handed to us in writing, which says that as a result of negotiations undertaken by representatives of this subcommittee with the Greek owners of 242 merchant ships, they have agreed to break off all trade with North Korea, Communist China, and the far eastern ports of Soviet Russia?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would say, how do you negotiate when there is nothing that you can commit? Now, I don't see how any of us here can hold the idea that a group of legislators or an individual can commit the United States to any action; so I would not understand what "negotiations" means. They might obtain promises, they might obtain some kind of expression of opinion or intention from these people, and he could announce it; that, I would say, is all right. If that represents his conviction on what he should do, there would be no criticism. But that, in my mind, is not negotiation.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, I am a little confused. Are we to understand, then, that it is your opinion that Senator McCarthy changed his position from the time of his original announcement when he used the word "negotiate," until the time he met with Secretary Dulles yesterday?

THE PRESIDENT. I am certain of this: negotiation in the way I am talking about it now is something that he could not have done because he had no power to do it--the negotiating which commits our Government to some form of action, subject always in our form of government, if it gets on the treaty basis, to approval by the Senate.

Q. Murrey Marder, Washington Post: Mr. President, do you feel that this in any way interfered or impeded the efforts to conduct other negotiations, as Mr. Stassen indicated?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't discussed this point that you raise, in detail, with either Secretary Dulles or Mr. Stassen. Governor Stassen, as you know, has been out of town--just got back, at least to my knowledge, today; and Secretary Dulles has been pretty busy. So I wouldn't have a real opinion on the point.

Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: Mr. President, just to recapitulate all this, are you unhappy with what Mr. Stassen said the other day, or with what Senator McCarthy

THE PRESIDENT. I am not in the slightest bit unhappy. I think that I know where we are trying to go. I think, by and large, we are developing and getting better cooperation with the Senate and House every day. The mere fact that some little incident arises is not going to disturb me. I have been scared by experts, in war and in peace, and I am not frightened about this.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Maine papers: Mr. President, if I could get away from high politics to butter, do you think there is anything that you can do in the long term, so that people can get butter at reasonable prices, and not have it stored away at taxpayers expense to spoil? It is a long term problem, I know, but it's a symbolic thing.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, you are talking about something where you could far better go to the Secretary of Agriculture and get a really definitive answer to such a question. As a matter of fact, under the provisions of law, we are buying butter at 67 2/3 cents a pound, I believe. Currently, I believe--although I may be wrong a few hundred thousand pounds--we are buying about 2 million pounds a day. At the same time we are buying at that price, the finest oleomargarine, I am told, is sold at half that price. What you come down to is that butter is pricing itself out of the market. And yet if you can tell the difference sufficiently that you insist on having butter, why, I guess that all you want is there at 67 2/3 cents a pound.

Until there is some change in the program, or a change in the rate of production of these things in our country, I don't know what should be done.

Q. Mrs. Craig: But, sir, the reason we have so many million-nearly half a billion--pounds in storage, is because the taxpayers' money is taken to buy, put it there.

THE PRESIDENT. I think you are exaggerating the figures somewhat, but still it's too large, in my opinion.

And I think there is this very great danger which adds to the problem, that since we don't have deep-freeze facilities all over the United States, some of this can enter the spoilage danger zone very soon.

I would hope this: as long as we have to have such surpluses, if we believe that to be to the best interests of our country--remember these programs have been developing and evolving over almost three decades--if that is true, then I should certainly hope that Congress would place upon the President the responsibility of finding outlets for anything that is in danger of spoiling. I think it would be a crime today against civilization, and against ourselves, to allow anything to spoil that could be used by anybody, even if those surpluses have to be disposed of at almost zero value; because I couldn't conceive of anything worse than to have openly to destroy it, when people are hungry and need such things.

Q. Mrs. Craig: Well, sir, if you did not--this administration did not price support it, couldn't you find an outlet in the ordinary people buying it--the housewives--at prices they could pay?

THE PRESIDENT. I would say, Mrs. Craig, that you cannot possibly be guilty of lack of good faith with your own people. This thing was done by law, long before we came along. And when we saw the extent to which it had gone, we had to prolong the thing until some kind of arrangements or some kind of new philosophy, at least, could be brought out. That is what they are working at now, through these commissions and committees that work with the Department of Agriculture, representing every part of our agriculture and the public. What are we going to do about these things to have reasonable, proper policies? It is a very difficult and intricate one.

Of course, it will arouse a lot of emotion, because certain people will be affected right square in the pocketbook, while others say we are looking at the, by and large, good of the Nation.

Q. Alan S. Emory, Watertown (N.Y.) Times: Early this week, sir, Mr. John A. Ulinsky, who is the United States Commissioner for the International Boundary Commission, United States, Canada, and Alaska, was dismissed from his post and replaced by, I believe, Mr. Samuel L. Golan of Chicago, Illinois.

Now, the treaty with Canada which set up the Commission specifies that the United States Commissioner can be removed only through death, disability, or retirement, none of which applied to Mr. Ulinsky, and that his successor--again in the treaty--should be a qualified geographer or surveyor. Mr. Golan, the successor, is a lawyer.

I wonder if you thought this complied, either--first--with the spirit of the treaty; or, second, with your campaign pledge to get the best brains for the best jobs in Government?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you have stated a case--[laughter]-that sounds terrible. And if the facts as you state them, now, are really facts--and I assume they certainly are as you understand them--someone is going to be questioned as to why I was not informed of those facts before. Of that I am sure.

Q. [Speaker unidentified]: Mr. President, did you convince Dan Reed he should balance the budget before he cut taxes?

THE PRESIDENT. The question did not come up--not the subject of our luncheon conversation.

Q. Fred W. Perkins, Scripps-Howard Newspapers: Mr. President, I have two related questions: (a) would you care to comment on your opinion of the prospects of the Washington baseball team this year [laughter]; (b) would you throw out the ball at the opening game?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, first, I am most certainly not a baseball prophet. The only thing I have in such things is sentiment. I know who I am for. As long as I am living in Washington, I am for the Senators from the beginning, and I will be there on the last day of the game.

Now, I am going to the game of April 23d. I am not going to be there the 13th. I think I told you people before, that week of April 13th is one I am desperately fighting to save. I have lost 1 day--I have to come back to meet your friends the editors on the 16th; but aside from that, I am fighting to keep that week as 5 or 6 days of my own. So I won't be able to make it on the 13th, but I hope to be there on the 23d. There's a day game, the first series home.

Q. Anthony H. Leviero, New York Times: Senator Taft and Congressman Simpson said you had taken a long look to the 1954 elections, and how you might win it. Could you give us some insight into your thinking?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it is just as simple as looking at the palm of your hand. If the Republican Party can show as its record over the next 2 years a progressive, sane program of accomplishment, one that is in keeping with the constitutional processes of this country, which takes care of the welfare, the interest, of all our people and doesn't give itself away to any section or any group, any class-- and that program, that accomplishment, is properly advertised, we will be back with a very greatly enhanced majority.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, last week you said you were not aware of a plan by Mr. Wilson to cut the size of combat strength. You said you left it up to him to decide. Well, since last week a plan has become somewhat apparent from the Pentagon, that they are studying a plan to reduce combat strength. We wondered during the week if you thought maybe we have reached a point where it is safe to reduce the total size of our armed forces?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think I said exactly what you say I said, Mr. Smith. I never said that I would leave to anyone else the final decision as to what should be the level of combat strength. I said that I was waiting on detailed recommendations. Moreover, as I urge the streamlining of organization, of getting rid of duplications and what I still believe to be unnecessary expense in that Department, we are studying, all of us, every day, I assure you, what is the level of strength in being that, in our judgment would conform to what I always go back to--Washington's old precept of the respectable posture of military defense. But by no means would that be a responsibility that I could delegate.

Q. John M. Hightower, Associated Press: Could you tell us anything about your meeting with Ambassador Bohlen, sir, particularly whether you are sending any sort of personal message to Premier Malenkov?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will give you this much on the question: in conformity with the practice every newly appointed Ambassador observes, Ambassador Bohlen came in to call on me this afternoon. He is leaving immediately, I believe, either this evening or tomorrow, for Europe--soon hopes to be in Moscow. We discussed only, as far as any general subject is concerned, the situation there of the American Ambassador, the hope that he could be helpful in anything that came up, the general nature of the problems that we could possibly anticipate. As far as anything further is concerned, I would have nothing to say.

Q. John D. Morris, New York Times: Mr. President, I take it from what you said, that your conference with Mr. Reed and Mr. Simpson might have been on reciprocal trade. Could you give us any idea as to any decisions that might have been made?

THE PRESIDENT. There were no decisions made. We just were exchanging ideas. Actually, among other things, we talked about the question which you brought up a minute ago, which was the congressional elections of 1954. As you know, Mr. Reed is the chairman of the congressional committee, and he wanted to know--

Q. Mr. Morris [interjecting]: Mr. Simpson.

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Simpson, I mean, is chairman of the congressional committee. He wanted to know whether I would be cheering for him; and I certainly had no difficulty in assuring him that I would.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, did I understand you to say that you favor extension of reciprocal trade as is, without any changes, for 1 year?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't say that there shouldn't be any change. The way I feel is, it should be extended for 1 year; because when you start changing--and I want that to be done on the basis of study--such changes necessary should be the product of mature deliberation and representation of all viewpoints, and not giving way to any one special interest.

Q. Anthony H. Leviero, New York Times: Mr. President, is there any light you can throw on the statement by General Van Fleet that he was prohibited from carrying out an amphibious landing by General Ridgway behind the enemy lines?

THE PRESIDENT. That I haven't heard. I haven't heard a word about it.

Q. Mr. Leviero: He made that statement before a subcommittee.

THE PRESIDENT. Just recently?

Q. Mr. Leviero: Yesterday.

THE PRESIDENT. Oh. I don't know. It could have been there wasn't amphibious equipment there; I don't know. I couldn't comment. I have talked to General Van Fleet several times, and we have gone over past events, but that easily could have been omitted just inadvertently. He never mentioned such an OCCURRENCE to me.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's sixth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building at 3:30 p.m. on April 2, 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/231593

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