Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

July 28, 1954

THE PRESIDENT. Ladies and gentlemen, we will go right to questions this morning.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, I wonder if you would give us your appraisal of the recent Chinese Communist attacks on British and American planes particularly in the light of apparent concern on the part of some of our allies that it might touch off another war. Are you disturbed about this situation?

THE PRESIDENT. Of Course, things like this always cause deep concern and deep study.

The sequence of events was that we learned of this transport plane being shot down; there were Americans aboard, and so instantly we ordered a task force into the area to pursue rescue operations--not to provoke any incident, but to take any necessary measures to defend themselves while they were doing this task. You know, I think, then the sequence of events; and, of course, when we were attacked, there were two of these Chinese planes shot down. We protested, and then they claimed that these planes were where they shouldn't be. We were perfectly certain they were not only where they should be, but on legitimate business.

The orders of the task force were to stay there as long as there was any hope of finding any of these people. I would assume that period is now at an end, and I would expect them to be leaving the area momentarily, although I don't know the exact hour in which Admiral Phillips has ordered them out. It is his judgment as to when no hope remains.

Now, of course, in the first instance the Communists apologized at once; then when we were involved they took a different attitude. I think it is difficult to calculate with any confidence what that means, but I would say that at the very least it is part of the regular plan of separating the Western allies one from the other, of having a different attitude toward one than it does toward the other--an attempt, therefore, to split us up.

I notice that the dispatches show that in Paris there is anxiety, that we were thought to be impulsive and truculent. We don't mean to be, but we do mean to defend our rights, and our people will defend themselves wherever they are on legitimate business.

That is all, I think, I have to say on that.

Q. Pat Munroe, Salt Lake City Deseret News: Mr. President, my question concerns several proposed water projects in the vicinity of your summer headquarters in the Rocky Mountain area. Frying Pan-Arkansas, of course, is up in the House this afternoon, but there is very violent opposition from southern California water users who are downstream on the Colorado. I wonder if you would have any comment on this.

THE PRESIDENT. I had the matter up for some explanation to me a few days ago. I have not had the complete conclusions of the people within the Cabinet and executive department who have been put, you know, on the Water Resources Board. I am told, however, that there is no water involved except that which, by prior agreement and by law, .belongs to Colorado and does not belong to downstream States; this is by some riparian rights. I don't know any further facts on the matter at this time.

I know that some people say it is a very fine project and will work to the welfare of that whole region; others say it is a very, very bad project. But I must say, ladies and gentlemen, those same observations apply to many projects that are brought up.

Q. Alan S. Emory, Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times: Mr. President, both the farm bills, as approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate Agriculture Committee, contain a provision permitting the Secretary of Agriculture to make direct subsidy payments to dairy farmers under the price support program. Do you see any difference between this proposal and the Brannan Plan, which you attacked so vigorously during the '52 campaign?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, the Brannan Plan, at least, was larger in scope, and wanted to apply the same principle to many products.

I have taken my stand and announced it on the dairy situation. The dairy situation has been improving very markedly in different respects since the rigid price supports were broken down, I believe, the 1st of April--or March. Their market has been growing. We would hope that would continue.

I personally believe that the dairy program should not be disturbed as it now is.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, the Swiss Government is saying that your action yesterday in boosting watch tariffs is a serious blow to the whole program of free trade. Do you think that boosting tariffs is consistent with the administration's program of increasing trade and lowering tariffs?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Clark, you say "boosting tariffs"; this is one specialized instance. I forget how many cases have come from the Tariff Commission to me, all recommending increased tariffs because of their findings that certain segments of our industry are adversely affected.

There was one minor one in which I partially approved their recommendations, and that had to do with a particular kind of clover from Canada, as I recall it. All the rest I disapproved, because I believe we must have a freer and better flow, bigger flow, of international trade.

This one, this watch program and project, has been studied for many years; there have been many actions taken on it. I personally have been studying it intensively for some weeks. I decided finally that the weight of the evidence was on the side of some increase; and, of course, I had to take, on that basis, the recommendations of the Tariff Commission.

Now, I want to point out that this is something that you think is right. I do not claim by any stretch of the imagination that my decisions are sacrosanct and are going to be forever true. I simply say that it looked to me, at this moment, this was the thing to do.

As you know, the Tariff Commission is required to report back to me within 2 years as to the effect of the action just taken, but I am not stopped at any time from asking them to resurvey the whole situation whenever I desire.

Q. Robert W. Richards, The Copley Press: Mr. President, would you discuss the collateral reason why you decided to increase tariffs on Swiss watches, that is, the military, significance?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, the legal reason is that which is given by the Tariff Commission; and that is that serious damage is being done to American industry.

But from the standpoint of defense, it seems to me that we must preserve certain kinds of skills in the United States. A particular skill is this ability to deal with very close tolerances, very fine work. When I look at the record of the number of men that were employed in these industries only a matter of 2 or 3 years ago, and what are now employed in this area, it seemed to me that was a collateral reason for trying to save roughly 20 or 25 percent of our market for our own people in this field.

Q. Oscar W. Reschke, German Press: Mr. President, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee called on you yesterday for direct action in case of non-ratification of EDC to restore German sovereignty and permit her to contribute to the Western defense. Would you tell us, please, what steps you would deem necessary or appropriate to restore sovereignty?

THE PRESIDENT. Let me ask, has that report of the Senate gone to the Senate floor?

Q. Mr. Reschke: It will go to the Senate floor, most probably today.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, has it been made public? Has the resolution itself been made public?

Q. Mr. Reschke: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, I most thoroughly approve then of the resolution itself which was worked out between the Senate committee and the Secretary of State.

Just exactly what measures would have to be taken, of course, cannot be detailed; if they could have been, they would have been, I suppose, included in the resolution. But it does direct the President to take such steps as he finds necessary to effectuate certain parts of the treaty of '52, in spite of the fact that certain of the conditions laid down in that '52 treaty have not been met--namely, the enactment of EDC. So I have to, under this resolution, take such steps as I deem necessary to move along in securing a better relationship with Germany.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Sir, in the Texas election, Governor Shivers received surprisingly stiff opposition in a race in which his support of you in '52 was somewhat of an issue, and there were five Congressmen who openly or by implication had more or less come out for you, and they either retired voluntarily or were retired at the polls. wonder if you or your party leaders have analyzed this election yet?

THE PRESIDENT. No. AS a matter of fact, it is the other party that is having this election, and--[laughter]--no one has said a word to me about it from our own party officials.

I don't mind saying that Governor Shivers is a friend of mine. I have liked him and admired him; I think he has made a good Governor. Not only, of course, was I pleased that personally he found it proper to support me in '52 but, as a person born in Texas myself, why, I have that much interest in him.

Q. Joseph A. Loftus, New York Times: Mr. President, I have a political question, too, sir. In the past few months there has been some modification of your policy with respect to political campaigns; I refer specifically to your support of individual candidacies by name. I wonder if we might expect any further modification of that policy in the coming fall campaign?

THE PRESIDENT. This is what I said, as I recall, and I am subject to not going into different districts stumping for particular candidates; that wherever I spoke and whatever I said or did, I was going to talk about a program; and that if I was in an area where the individual had supported that program, I would expect or hope, at least, that my presence there helped him.

But I don't believe that I pledged myself to abstain from making a speech or going anywhere; I didn't say that.

Now, recently I was asked a question about an individual, and I admitted that I was in a bit of a dilemma, but I did admire and respect this body.

As I say, my statement still stands. I expect to do some traveling, and I certainly hope that it will not damage anyone who supported the program I have laid before the legislature.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Maine Papers: Mr. President, is there anything you can tell us now about the visit and your conversations with President Rhee?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, very little. He and I have had private conversations.

The Secretary of State is meeting with him this morning. the investigations and conversations are going ahead in two main channels, the military and the economic. They are going ahead now, and I would assume before he leaves we will, following the usual pattern, have a statement to release.

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mr. President, what standards or qualifications are required for Congressmen to have their pictures taken with you? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. You know, after all, there is a bit of a compliment when a Congressman comes up and asks to have his picture taken; at least he seems to imply he is not going to be damaged by that picture. [Laughter]

I go on the theory that anyone who comes up is normally someone who believes generally as I do. I do admit that I take a little bit of a check, as much as time gives me, to see whether on the important things in which I believe he has generally been along.

I have told you people time and again, I thing, I don't believe that support of an administration or of my views personally has to be 100 percent. We do have different ideas about different things, and that makes democracy. But I do believe that the principles on which I am trying to conduct the business of my office must be observed or I shouldn't try to give help to him.

Q. Mr. Brandt: Have any been refused or will be refused?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't done it personally. If some of the people around me have, that's different; I don't know.

Q. John W. Vandercook, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President , on Saturday, I believe, the House Appropriations committee knocked out an item of some $18 million appropriations for the technical assistance program of the United Nations and, I believe, that was supported by a small vote, but a majority vote, in the House yesterday. Now, that was part of your program, part of your recommendation, and I wondered if you would have any comment to make or propose to take any further action?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would take further action in this respect: these things go from one House to another House; when I find something that I deem of importance, and this item has some importance, I take it up then with the second group to deal with it and show them how important I believe it to be so that congressional action can, at least, have the full knowledge of the importance I attach to the point. And so, if they do support me, then they can take it up in conference.

Q. Mr. Vandercook: And you do approve that?

THE PRESIDENT. I think we should have this thing.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Mr. President, now that the filibuster is over, do you feel any concern for the rest of your program in Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. I thought I might get that. [Laughter] If you don't mind, I will read what I have. [Laughter] I just made a list of the items that are still in front of the Senate:

The farm bill--this would begin, as you know I feel, a new and sound agricultural policy for the country;

The tax bill which, as I pointed out to you before, I believe is so necessary for stimulation of business, the creation of jobs, better tax arrangements in this country;

The Attorney General's anti-Communist bills, to punish those who seek to destroy and overthrow our form of Government;

The housing conference report, which will help our cities cope with the growing slums and make it easier for low-income families to obtain housing;

Social security measures to safeguard our citizens against need;

Foreign aid for our allies to strengthen the free world's will to combat Communist aggression.

Now, those things I consider major elements in the program that has been placed before the Congress, their purpose being to strengthen America at home, increase her security abroad. I would be more than bitterly disappointed if there was any failure to enact those measures.

Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: Mr. President, in the debate in Congress on the farm program, there have been reports of a consumers' revolt against the high price of food. Now, I was wondering if, in your conversations with people and letters that you get, you have evidence there is a consumers' revolt?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, while here and there I have heard of the high price of food and cost of living--I mean, noticed it advanced in argument-it is usually coming in from someone who is advancing a special case, a governmental employee wanting more money, or something of that kind.

Actually, I think that the history of the cost of living index in the last 18 months has been one that approaches stability about as closely as you could possibly expect it to; so, if prices are high now, they have been awfully high a long time.

Q. Mr. Scheibel: Sir, is it your belief that if the Congress does adopt your farm bill that food prices will come down?

THE PRESIDENT. I think, at the very least, we should have a stabilization, because we hope that the factors of supply and demand will come into closer equality, coordination. We would like to get these great surpluses off the market, and parity then ought to be achieved if your supply and your demand are getting somewhat equal, because parity is simply the comparison of the cost of the things a farmer buys to the things he sells. I hope those factors will become again of more importance.

Q. Edwin Dayton Moore, United Press: Mr. President, you didn't mention raising the debt limit a minute ago. Does that mean that the administration is dropping that?

THE PRESIDENT. I would say that isn't necessarily a part of a program; that is a necessity.

Q. Mr. Moore: It is a necessity?

THE PRESIDENT. That is a necessity. As far as it looks now, I see no escape from it myself; but I didn't put it, as I recall, in my January program.

Q. Joseph A. Loftus, New York Times: Can you tell us now how you propose to go about this debt limit problem?

THE PRESIDENT. There have been many conferences which have been going on between Treasury officials and officials on the Hill that have to do with this problem. I would say that the program itself is not quite ready yet to expose and show exactly what we are going to do.

Q. Robert L. Riggs, Louisville Courier-Journal: Mr. President, you told Mr. Brandt that you wouldn't want to support someone who had opposed you on a major issue. In the last week Senator Cooper of Kentucky has voted twice against the administration--once against the TVA contract, and yesterday or last night, rather, against the entire atomic energy bill. Would you consider that major opposition, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think Senator Cooper is mistaken, but I think that Senator Cooper's record in the Senate is one that I couldn't possibly criticize in any serious way.

Now, he has been perfectly honest, he has come to me every time he has had a difference, and I know that it does not make either of us happy. He believes there is a point of legal responsibility and legal authority involved. I think he has been perfectly honest in that, and I respect a man's honest opinions. Don't try to get me to say I am against Senator Cooper; I am not.

Q. Mr. Riggs: I am not trying to. [Laughter]

Q. Robert W. Richards, The Copley Press: There has been a good deal of editorial sniping at your majority leader. Would you like to say a good word for him for busting the minority filibuster?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you know, I rather think he can take care of himself. But I do think this: I think criticism is good, and I think it is awfully easy to make, but I am struck by the number of times that the criticism does not suggest a better course to follow.

So I think that in this case, it is easy enough to make these criticisms, but I think the Senator has given a pretty good account of himself.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post and Times Herald: You just said, Mr. President, that you expect to do some traveling in connection with the 1954 campaign.

THE PRESIDENT. Not "campaign"; on my program. Let's make the distinction. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. Folliard: Will that be extensive, sir? The reason I ask you, there have been announcements in various parts of the country that you will speak here, you will address this rally; but there has been no confirmation from the White House. Mr. Hagerty told us yesterday you were going to speak in Los Angeles.

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Folliard, for this there are some very good reasons: it is awfully hard for the President to firm up a program too far in advance, and so you try to avoid making fixed engagements. You say, "Yes, if," and that is the way a good many of them now stand. I say a good many: from the standpoint of a person who would like to get a little bit of rest from the sound of his own tongue, it sounds like a lot; possibly not so many to those who want you to come.

So I think that the announcements will be made as quickly as they know they are firm. There is no attempt here to conceal or to evade, that I assure you. It is just we don't want to put out things that aren't true.

Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: Mr. President, can you tell us something of your conversation with Paul Hoffman 2 weeks ago? I believe you had him at lunch. Was there a special purpose?

THE PRESIDENT. I must assure you that Paul Hoffman and I have been friends, I don't know how many years. Whenever he comes to town, if I possibly can I have him to lunch. I admire the man and his opinions; I listen to him. We cover every subject, I suppose, that any two of you, in just sitting down for a good conversation, would do. I don't recall what it was about specifically.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: I wondered, sir, if you had any comment on the apparent improved situation in the Middle East, particularly on the Anglo-Egyptian agreement?

THE PRESIDENT. I couldn't tall you how highly pleased I am that this composition has apparently been reached. I think it is evidence of patience and statesmanship on both sides. I think that the legitimate national aspirations of Egypt have been protected, and the requirements of Western defense are cared for, and I sincerely hope that soon now Egypt can go ahead with her friends in improving both her economic and her security position. I am very highly pleased.

Q. Mr. Reston: Has Egypt undertaken during these negotiations in any way to improve her relations with Israel and the other countries in the Middle East?

THE PRESIDENT. That I can't say; that is the most confused situation, of course. I can say only this: our policies are all directed, in dealing with each of these countries, to promoting friendships in the area.

I think I have expressed my conviction to this body before: I believe there is no future for any country there unless we can bring about something of this kind, and I believe concessions have to be made by both sides. But it is a terribly complicated problem, and just exactly whether Egypt has done anything I am not sure.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, would you object to a provision in the atomic energy bill authorizing governmental bodies to manufacture electricity from the power of the atom?

THE PRESIDENT. Governmental bodies? I am afraid I don't know exactly what you mean.

Q. Mr. Wilson: Well, the question goes to this point: the Senate has passed a couple of amendments which authorize the Government to go into the power business; and the House has passed an amendment prohibiting the Government from going into the power business; and those two points of view have to be resolved in conference. I wondered if you had anything you wanted to contribute to the thinking on that subject?

THE PRESIDENT. I think I will have to avoid too specific comment here for the reason I didn't know the issue had met in that head-on fashion.

Naturally, the power that is being developed now is all governmental. They are not developing it for private sale to anyone because it is still, as you know, on a development basis. It is still very expensive, 5 to 10 times as high as you can do it in a steamplant.

It is a process which we hope is going to be scattered not only through this country some day but through all the world. As I tried to say last December 8, I think all the world ought to recognize and understand that in this new scientific development are possibilities for the betterment of mankind, and it is not to be devoted exclusively to destruction.

Now, that means that lots of people have finally got to use it or we are not going to have that come about. So, as I say, I didn't know that it had come in this head-on fashion; I knew that one had provided it. And I haven't discussed with my chief advisers, on this particular point, just exactly what we would do in a case of a head-on collision like that.

Merriman Smith, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's forty-sixth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:31 to 10:58 o'clock on Wednesday morning, July 28, 1954. In attendance: 135.

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/232367

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