Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

September 30, 1953

THE PRESIDENT. Of course, I don't suppose that there is any more important news than that world series--if a fellow just had any advance information about it.

I could start off, I think, by confirming something that is certainly by no means news any more--that is, that I intend to designate Governor Earl Warren as Chief Justice of the United States.

There has been an item in the press that I should like to make an observation about: it is this forced retirement of Cardinal Wyszynski in Poland.

I think that the heart of America resents this kind of thing very deeply. I believe we understand that without freedom of religion and freedom of thought, without some evidence that the other side is ready to honor it, observe it, at least in some measurable degree, that it makes very discouraging the effort to reach real understanding in the world.

I have no doubt the State Department may have some formal statement on the incident. For myself, I must say I consider it a discouraging development.

As you know, just before Congress adjourned, the administration asked that the debt limit be raised so as to provide the certainty that all bills could be met on time when presented.

The savings in expenditures that we have been able to make, the study of the September 15 tax receipts, make it appear that no special session will be necessary and that we will get through to January and still have something left.

I don't announce that with complete certainty, but that certainly is what the probabilities are at the moment. So we don't anticipate any special session unless, of course, there is some radical change, some unexpected thing. I would assume you would understand that such a caution as that is implicit in anything I should say in the way of prediction.

I notice that there continues to be speculation about a retail sales tax in this country by the Federal Government.

For many years, I think, I personally have put my adverse conclusions on such a tax so far as the Federal Government is concerned, and made them public long before I ever thought that I would be in a place I had any responsibility about it.

The Treasury Department has made a study, however, and they find that all of the logic in the situation is that this is a field that belongs to local municipalities and States, and not to the Federal Government. Certainly, therefore, they have no intention of trying to do otherwise.

Now, those are a few of the subjects that struck me as having some immediate interest for you as I came over. So, as usual, we will take the rest of the period for questioning.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, since we last saw you there has been an announcement that the Russians have at least the knowledge and possibly the ability to make a thermonuclear bomb. Does this knowledge or will this knowledge have any effect on your planning for defense spending next year?

THE PRESIDENT. Quite naturally, this is a material or physical fact of the utmost importance to the world. Particularly, it makes us more interested than ever in determining just what are the intentions of the U.S.S.R. and their associated countries in honestly attempting to reach some kind of negotiated situation in which all of us can have confidence.

Now, the knowledge that they have this bomb is, of course, an acute one for the Defense Department. I should say that it is a fact that is probably causing each of us more earnest study--you might say almost prayerful study--than any other thing that has occurred lately. I might say, in connection with that, that I do hope when I can get sorted out in my own mind and with my advisers exactly how we should approach this whole subject of the international situation, the relief of tension in the world, and this growing destructiveness of the world's armaments, when I can get that all straightened out, I expect to go before the United States and tell them--be very frank in telling them--the facts on which my studies have been based and the conclusions that the administration and I have reached. Just when this can be done I am not prepared to say; because it is very, very intricate, and any attempt to do this is very apt to react in a number of ways.

But we have friends abroad; we must be very careful that they understand always we have one intention in the world--peace. We don't want any war, and anyone who has had certainly the kind of experience with war that I have had can say this with such a passion, almost, as to put war at the very last of any possible solutions to the world's difficulties.

I believe we have gone far enough in this so you could say that the only possible tragedy greater than winning a war would be losing it. Just war should be out from the calculations of all of us, and we should proceed from there.

Now we want all of our friends to understand this thoroughly; but because we have to talk from positions of strength, and because we have to take rudimentary precautions for our own security, we will not quail from any sacrifice necessary to provide that security.

If you don't look out, these intentions are misunderstood, and badly misunderstood. They say we are pugnacious or we are impulsive or we have lost all faith in the conference table. Now those things are far from the truth; they are to the contrary of the truth, and so we must be very careful.

Another thing is, you don't want to frighten anyone to death in this world. As I have said to you before, frightened people cannot make good decisions. So, therefore, you have to understand our own strength--the strength of the free world, the strength of America--at the very same time that you are weighing also our dangers and our risks.

So, after this rather roundabout way of answering your question, Mr. Smith, the fact is that anyone would be foolish to try to shut their eyes to the significance of the event of which you speak.

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Mr. President, the chief justiceship is probably the second most important position in Government. Can you tell us the process by which you reached the selection of Governor Warren, whom you consulted, and what qualifications you sought?

THE PRESIDENT. I saw in the paper a statement that very aptly summarized my own viewpoint.

From the very beginning, from the moment of the unfortunate death of my great friend, Mr. Vinson, I have been thinking over this whole thing. I certainly wanted a man whose reputation for integrity, honesty, middle-of-the-road philosophy, experience in Government, experience in the law, were all such as to convince the United States that here was a man who had no ends to serve except the United States, and nothing else. Naturally, I wanted a man who was healthy, strong, who had not had any serious illnesses, and who was relatively young--if you can call a man of approximately my age relatively young--relatively young with respect to some others that I was thinking of.

On balance, to my mind he is a man who will make a great Chief Justice; and so I selected him.

Q. Mr. Brandt: May I ask another question as a newspaperman? Is it going to be the policy of this administration to leak such important news to friendly newspapers?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know whether I could stand here in front of this group and give a quick answer to that. I think that I have trusted subordinates who may occasionally leak news for purposes they consider proper. If they do, I don't think I would interfere with them.

Q. Mr. Brandt: I mean, we would like to understand the ground rules because we are under a handicap, and if the others get it a whole

THE PRESIDENT. Let me tell you on that--if there are any complaints, I wish you would put them down in complete detail in front of Mr. Hagerty, who will bring them to me. I didn't know there were any complaints, and I would not want to take in front of such a body as this and give an answer to you when I am not acquainted with details, and don't want to give snap answers that could lead us all into trouble.

If there is anyone here that has ever found me in a position that he thought I was not trying to be fair, I would like to hear that also.

I have been meeting with the press now for a good long 12 years, I think, and I certainly try to play fair with all of them.

Q. Francis M. Stephenson, New York Daily News: Mr. President, if your subordinates are going to leak news, I would appreciate it if you would include us in on it! [Laughter]

Q. Robert L. Riggs, Louisville Courier-Journal: Mr. President, you used the words "retail sales tax." Do you include in that the general manufacturers excise tax?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you have excise taxes, and always have had, in our country. You will understand that we are now working really night and day on a tax program to present to the Congress when it meets again, and you could not expect me to go into details of exactly what we are going to do and exactly what we are not going to do. We are certainly going to try to be equitable and we certainly are going to try to make an efficient tax.

Q. Joseph A. Loftus, New York Times: What qualifications are you looking for in the Secretary of Labor, and when do you expect to appoint one?

THE PRESIDENT. On that one, I will give you an answer that I think I have never given anyone yet in this thing, and that is "No comment."

Q. Mr. Loftus: One more question, sir: can you say whether you suggested that Martin Durkin take another position in the administration?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have made no suggestion.

Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: Mr. President, in your reply just a moment ago on the tax question, can you tell us the general policy that you are looking for in this tax study? Do you expect higher taxes, lower taxes, about the same general revenues?

THE PRESIDENT. Very obviously, the whole take from the United States, that is, the whole take in this Federal budget, has to be gauged against what you have to spend.

Now, the Security Council has been studying these problems all summer long. After each one the executive has come to see me; we have gone over this whole thing. It is a question of expenditures, and, therefore, the kind of a tax program that will give the necessary revenue.

In connection with that, you will know that we have this commission on the relationship between States and localities and the Federal Government now studying, and unquestionably they will have something to say about it. We are trying to produce tax programs that are fair and just and will produce the necessary revenue. What the exact amounts are going to be, I can't possibly tell you.

Q. Jay G. Hayden, Detroit News: Sir, not to be repetitious, but to avoid misunderstanding, you seem to have definitely eliminated the retail sales tax, but in answer to Mr. Riggs' question, I gather you do not so definitely eliminate the possibility of a manufacturers tax?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't eliminate anything. I said that there have always been excise taxes in this country of some kind. Now, just exactly how those will be reassorted, I don't know. That is part of the Treasury's planning at this moment.

Q. Mr. Hayden: But it is still in study?

THE PRESIDENT. I am saying I am making no further statement outside of the fact that this retail tax--which seemed to bother everyone so much--I state that we are not going into that.

Q. J. Newman Wright, Passaic Herald-News: Do you intend, sir, to take any part in the gubernatorial campaign in New Jersey, that is, make speeches?


Q. Mr. Wright: Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT [laughing]. I don't want to be too facetious, but sometimes I think that words just fall on the desert air.

I have constantly stated I will not participate in local campaigns. They are not my business. So what I am trying to do is, here, with an administration of trusted associates, in cooperation with the Congress, to set a record that people who want to support that administration have a good foundation on which to stand. That is my job, not to go into these local contests.

Q. Carroll H. Kenworthy, United Press: I want to ask about the bases agreement signed with Spain last Saturday; are you pleased with that agreement and what is the significance of it?

THE PRESIDENT. What is what?

Q. Mr. Kenworthy: What is the significance of the agreement?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the significance of the agreement is that it is a quid pro quo; they had certain things that we need and are valuable to us, and we made certain arrangements in order to get those things.

I might say that this thing has been in the mill for a long time, has been thoroughly discussed with congressional leaders, and we believe it is something that will work to the benefit of the United States.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: Do you intend to use your Taft-Hartley injunction powers to halt the scheduled midnight dock strike?

THE PRESIDENT. Actually, a communication on this subject just reached the White House--just within a matter of hours, I think. It has been referred to the Labor Department, and I will be advised on it sometime during the day. Just what will happen I don't know.

Q. William P. Flythe, Jr., Hearst Newspapers: Mr. President, may I ask you about these international conferences, have you anything to say, sir--these proposed international conferences?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the State Department, of course, keeps me constantly advised of what has been proposed. They are studying as to how we can take full advantage of any opportunity to discuss in friendly and understanding fashion with the U.S.S.R. and others the problems facing the world.

Certainly we want to release and lower tensions, but exactly how and when to do these things is a difficult matter. We don't want to do things in such a way as to make things worse instead of better.

So we have not had the final word on that.

Q. G. Gould Lincoln, Washington Star: Do you expect the Chief Justice to be here when Court opens?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I do. Actually, of course, it was one reason that I felt we must not tarry too long with it, because there is a full job to do.

Q. Carlton Kent, Chicago Sun-Times: Mr. President, do you expect to reschedule the Bermuda conference with the British and French Prime Ministers that was postponed this summer?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it has not come up as yet. As a matter of fact, I don't know anything about the Prime Minister's health. It has not been suggested to me at all.

Q. Mr. Marin, International News Service: Mr. President, the visit of your brother, Dr. Milton Eisenhower, to Latin America has aroused great hopes of an improvement in relations between the United States and Latin American countries. Twenty Latin American countries now are anxious to know when Dr. Milton Eisenhower will present officially his report to you.

THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, I think it will be very soon. He came down to see me on Sunday. There have been some personal things happened, including some very serious illness, and so on, that prevented him from doing some of the things that he would otherwise have done. But it will come along, I think, very soon. That is what he told me--he expected to deal with it very soon.

Q. Mr. Marin: And that will be a basis for a new study of the policies, would you say, between--

THE PRESIDENT. Of course. I will tell you, my brother is too smart a man to think he learned all about our Latin American friends in one 6-week trip through their countries, but he certainly came back with a tremendous admiration and a hopefulness about the situation. He will, therefore, make suggestions to our State Department, and I am certain of this, they will not ignore them; they will study them sympathetically. [Laughter] I meant that, my friends, in the kindliest of ways because--[laughter]--I want to assure you they are the ones that asked my brother to go. So I assume that they are serious.

When that is done, I imagine that they may even publish parts or all of his report; I don't know. 1

1 Dr. Milton Eisenhower's report, entitled "United States-Latin American Relations," was released by the White House on November 22, 1953. The report is published in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 29, p. 695).

Q. Mr. Marin: May I state on behalf of the South American press that he was a wonderful Ambassador, your brother.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much; thank you.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: I do not know whether your earlier remark on the labor situation applies to this or not, but I have been requested to ask you. As you know, former Secretary of Labor Durkin said that you broke an agreement on the proposed Taft-Hartley changes; Vice President Nixon said you didn't, and it was all apparently a misunderstanding. Could we have your version on that conflict?

THE PRESIDENT. I will not give you a version on that conflict because, as you people know, I have consistently refused ever to speak of a personality publicly. It is not my business as President.

I will say this: to my knowledge, I have never broken an agreement with any associate of mine in my life. If I have ever broken an agreement, it was something that I did not understand was made. Now, I have never broken one that I know of. And if there is anyone here who has contrary evidence, he can have the floor and make his speech.

Q. Milton B. Freudenheim, Akron Beacon Journal: Mr. President, can you tell us when you will announce permission to sell the synthetic rubber industry?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't because it has not come up to me yet, and I can't do it. I will have them look it up and see if there is something on it.

Q. Alice A. Dunnigan, Associated Negro Press: Recent statements from the Department of Defense indicate that integration in schools on military posts may be delayed until 1955. I understand that Senator Humphrey has brought this matter to your attention by letter stating that such delays were unnecessary.

THE PRESIDENT. Who brought it to me?

Q. Mrs. Dunnigan: Senator Humphrey of Minnesota.

THE PRESIDENT. I have not seen it.

Q. Mrs. Dunnigan: You have not seen it?

THE PRESIDENT. I have not seen the letter.

Q. Mrs. Dunnigan: I was going to ask was there any reply yet?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I will have Mr. Hagerty look it up and let you know; I haven't seen it.

Q. Mrs. Dunnigan: Have you any comment on this issue?

THE PRESIDENT. No; this is the first time that it has come up this fall.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: I see some of our colleagues are straining at the barrier here, but I have a request to make of you, sir, and that is that you alternate these news conferences, holding some in the forenoon, some in the afternoon.

As it is, the afternoon papers invariably get the break on the news. By the time the story gets to the morning papers much of the life has gone out of it, and it would make a lot of us happier if you would.

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Folliard, I am willing to take a look at it. Remember this, though, that there is also a President of the United States involved in these things, and the burden of adjusting these things into a schedule that, in spite of some adverse comment, is really a busy one and a burdensome one. [Laughter] It is pretty tough; and to come down into the afternoon where you ordinarily try to get some hours to devote to your study, to going after papers rather than to meeting people, and conferences, it could raise some difficulties with me.

I am perfectly ready to look at it as sympathetically as I know how, because certainly I have no reason for favoring one group over the other. I would be glad to talk it over with Mr. Hagerty.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's fifteenth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 11:30 to 11:54 o'clock on Wednesday morning, September 30, 1953. In attendance: 239.

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/232071

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