Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

November 18, 1953

THE PRESIDENT. First, I have a little statement on drought conditions and measures for meeting it. There is a statistical piece of paper that I won't even bother to read. Both of them will be available to you afterward so you don't need to take notes on it.

[Reading] Drought conditions in many parts of the country have continued to increase in severity. Portions of our livestock industry are facing virtual liquidation. Damage to the whole agricultural economy in these areas has been great. Hardship among thousands of farm families has been intense.

The Federal Government has been active for many months in devising and carrying out emergency programs to deal with the consequences of this drought. The administration is determined to continue these efforts vigorously. Every step that can legitimately be taken to alleviate these conditions will be taken.

In order to make possible--and this is the new part of it--in order to make possible the continued flow of feed into these disaster drought areas at reduced prices until Congress reconvenes, I have today directed that the supplies of feed heretofore and hereafter furnished by the Commodity Credit Corporation under this program shall be without reimbursement to the Corporation from presently authorized funds. This direction, in conjunction with the $40 million appropriated by Congress and the funds allocated by me from the President's disaster emergency fund, will insure that the drought relief program shall go forward until Congress can review the program in January. [Ends reading]

The "without reimbursement" finding is the thing that adds a very great deal to the current possibility for dealing with it. As I say, there is an additional document of statistics that may be of some interest to you.1

1 The President referred to a White House release outlining other steps taken by the administration in aid of agriculture. The release covered such matters as drought relief (Federal aid extended to 15 States and Hawaii, including $110 million for farm credits and $50 million for emergency feed, grain, and hay), and the cattle price program (purchases equivalent to 750,000 head of cattle, sales promotion in cooperation with the beef industry resulting in increased prices on the farm for both feeder and slaughter cattle, and the reduction by half of rail rates for feed and cattle).

As you know, during a recess of Congress there is a constant stream of congressional leaders meeting with the executive departments in an effort to produce legislative programs to be entered into the succeeding session of the Congress.

This has been going on, and the staffs of the executive departments have been working to produce such a program. On the 17th, 18th, and 19th of December we are asking all of the party leaders in both Houses to come in to sort of firm up and examine the various subjects that have been under study for the past many weeks, and to go into the program that will be submitted when Congress convenes.

It has to do, of course, with the State of the Union Message and all the supporting documents that will go along with it.

Now, in the course of the 17th, 18th, and 19th, we hope to get in a majority of the committee chairmen who have important parts to play in the carrying out or effecting of the program so that everybody can be in accord.

There will probably be other meetings, as usual, after that date, but that will be sort of a full-dress get-together to make sure that we are all coordinated.

There has been some query directed to Mr. Hagerty about my personal plans for Thanksgiving, and he asked me if I would say I am going to Augusta--I hope. My children and grandchildren are in Georgia, and I hope to have the Thanksgiving holiday with them. If that is of any interest, that is the news; I hope to leave here something like the 24th and come back, then, on Sunday night.

Now, I think that is about all that I had of my own, and we are ready to take questions.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, I wonder if, from the disclosures that came out of the current aspects of the Harry Dexter White case, do you see any need for legislative recommendations to deal with this situation or similar situations?

THE PRESIDENT. I should like to make dear, ladies and gentlemen, that so far as this case itself is concerned, I haven't another single word to say about it, certainly not at this time, and don't intend to open my mouth about it.

Now, you raise another question, Mr. Smith, one that is of great significance; and I would hate to answer it, you might say, off the cuff because I haven't discussed the particular thing. I would, if that is of real interest to you, try to talk to some of my people and see if there is anything in the wind of that kind.

Q. Alan S. Emory, Watertown (N.Y.) Times: Mr. President, last Sunday on television, Mr. Leonard Hall, the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, left some of us with the impression that the No. 1 issue for the Republicans in next year's congressional campaign would be exposures of Communist infiltration in the Government under previous administrations.

I wondered what relative position in the campaign you thought this should take in relationship to the dynamic forward-looking program which you have mentioned to us?

THE PRESIDENT. I think I would express myself this way: issues in political campaigns are not made by any individual, and that includes the President of the United States. Issues are made, as I see it, by the needs of the country; and the needs of the country, I think, in many lines loom up as obvious and self-evident. We don't have to go into them in great detail here this morning.

Obviously, certain phases of our agriculture are in bad shape. We know that we have certain tax revisions and reforms and changes that are coming up, some of them already prescribed by law. We know that expenditures of the Federal Government is a thing on which we have been working. We know that the cleaning out in Government, of course, is important; but I believe it was in my state of the Union speech last January where I cheerfully acknowledged that the cleaning up of Government, the executive branches of Government, is an Executive responsibility.

I am proceeding with my associates as strongly and as earnestly and as thoroughly as I can in that direction, and I am certainly earnestly trying to do it without doing injustice to any individual, because I don't believe that we can afford to destroy inside what we think we are protecting from the outside.

Now, I hope that this whole thing will be a matter of history and of memory by the time the next election comes around. I don't believe we can live in fear of each other forever, and I really hope and believe that this administration is proceeding decently and justly to get this thing straightened out.

I hope that answers your question.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Maine papers: Mr. President, does your reply to Mr. Smith cover the statement of Mr. Brownell yesterday that he would seek legislation to give immunity to certain witnesses who seek the protection of the fifth amendment? Did he discuss that with you?

THE PRESIDENT. That particular point has not been discussed with me.

Q. Mrs. Craig: That has not?

THE PRESIDENT. But that would be unquestionably his recommendation, and I will then discuss it. As I say, when I have made up my own mind about that, I wouldn't object to discussing it with this body. I don't want to now in the absence of a formed judgment of my own.

Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, when you referred to the meeting of September 18th and 19th--


Q. Mr. Wilson: I mean December 17th, 18th, and 19th, I believe you said that you were asking all the party leaders. I wondered if you meant by that only the Republican leaders or also the Democratic leaders?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, first we would get the Republican leaders and such Republican chairmen as need to come. But before, and well before the measures have to be acted on, well, I will certainly take adequate and effective measures to make certain, in these things that we regard as bipartisan in character, that the other side will be thoroughly consulted.

Q. Mr. Wilson: There has been some comment in the past of a critical nature that, perhaps, because of the newness of the administration there was a lack of team play in the last session of Congress. I wonder if this is an effort to this meeting has any relation to that or whether there is any foundation to that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, not necessarily to the criticism, Mr. Wilson; but I think that those of us who have had any experience in the job of putting people, humans, together, great numbers of humans, in support of any kind of a program or positive activity or project, it takes a lot of conference in composing of views. I don't intend to shirk my share of it, and to take my full responsibility for doing it. Now, that is really what I am trying to do.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President, I understood you to say that you hoped that this whole Communist-in-Government issue will be a matter of history by the next election. Does that mean, sir, that you hope these committees of Congress that are investigating Communists in Government will have finished up their work?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Folliard, there have been many ways brought here in forms of questions to get me to comment on Congress.

I acknowledge that Congress has their rights, they have their constitutional duties and privileges; and while I can have personal opinion about these things, I see no reason really for publicizing or explaining them except when something that I believe is necessary, you might say, to the welfare of this country, where I have to speak out in a way that was unmistakable.

So I don't want to comment. We must acknowledge that right to investigate, I would say. I do sincerely trust that the need for any investigation, the need for it, will be so eliminated that all will see it.

Q. Nat S. Finney, Buffalo News: Mr. President, some time ago you spoke of being at work on a public statement regarding the country's problems, I believe it was fair to say, about continental defense and atomic energy and some other matters. Can you tell us what the state of that is now?

THE PRESIDENT. I can say it is the most difficult problem to deal with fairly and justly, when you consider the complicated nature of alliances, of our own situation, and it is one that I am still working on. I am still hopeful that before too long I can lay this more clearly than it has yet been placed before the American people and before the world.

But I simply must feel that the timing is correct and the information that I have is not needlessly alarming, so that I cannot be accused of falsely raising hysteria and, at the same time, being as frank as I know how. It is extremely difficult.

Q. J. A. Livingston, Philadelphia Bulletin: Mr. President, are you developing plans to counteract the decline in business which seems to be indicated by the drop in steel and auto output and employment?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know whether all of your statements are quite correct. I believe that unemployment in October was the lowest it has been since 1943.

Q. Mr. Livingston: I said the drop in employment, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. What's that?

Q. Mr. Livingston: I said the drop in employment.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is right; I think there have been some people who have moved out of what is called the employable class, older people, women, and some children. I believe that is correct, in total employment.

Every week the subject of my conference with Dr. Arthur Burns, whom I consider one of the ablest men in this whole field, one of the subjects is to keep me informed as to what is going on there with his plans when dealing with the other parts of Government, as to what we can do, when we should do it, and how.

As you know, you get favorable and unfavorable indices about the future always at the same time, and it becomes a delicate matter of judgment. I will say this to you again: when it becomes clear that the Government has to step in, as far as I am concerned, the full power of Government, of Government credit, and of everything the Government has will move in to see that there is no widespread unemployment and we never again have a repetition of conditions that so many of you here remember when we had unemployment.

Q. Frederick Kuh, Chicago Sun-Times: Mr. President, what are the main topics or ideas that you intend to discuss with the British and French Prime Ministers at Bermuda?

THE PRESIDENT. Most of them, I should think, would be obvious to you. The United States, France, and Britain have in common a lot of problems. We have NATO, we have many included problems in NATO; we are together in Korea; our attitude in Asia; we have Indochina. We have numbers of problems around the world in which all of us have a very great stake, and where it is necessary that we have informal talks to see that we are proceeding toward solutions or in the formulation of policy on common ground; and if conversation can eliminate causes for friction, that is all to the good.

Actually, there is no formal agenda to be proposed by anyone that I know of at this conference. It is to be an informal talk among the individuals present.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: Mr. President, some time ago you saw the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and since that time there have been stories indicating that Pakistan would be interested in U.S. military aid, and might possibly grant us bases in that country. Would you comment on that as to whether you discussed it, and what you think?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, everybody knows that there are difficulties in that region, and I should say that America's policy is always in developing friendships with others, to try to get people to be friends with their own neighbors.

I should think we would be most cautious about doing anything that would create unrest and distress or fear or hysteria in the neighboring nation, say, in India. While the matter was not discussed in detail when the Prime Minister came to see me, the fact is our effort would be to produce a friendship with that entire subcontinent and not with just one group.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Mr. President, I understand Senator Monroney spoke to you the other day about the small proportion of the price which the Government is paying for its processed beef. He said a small proportion was going to the cattlemen, and very small, compared to what went to the packers. Would you say what you think about that?

THE PRESIDENT. As you know, the Secretary of Agriculture did start an investigation some weeks ago to determine whether that price spread was justified.

Now, apparently--it is a bit technical and I hope I have it correctly--apparently the price spread between what the Government is paying for its lunch program and the prices paid actually at the central or big markets is not so out of line. But the unfortunate part about this is that many of these people liquidating small numbers of cattle come in and, at what are known as the small-town markets, will sell to a buyer at roughly sometimes not much over half of what they get at the big market. So there is a spread. He was coming in to suggest certain measures for closing that spread somewhat, and getting more money right down to the distressed farmer who has to get rid of his cattle. That plan has been sent over to Secretary Benson and, I believe, arrangements made for Senator Monroney to talk to Secretary Benson directly.

Q. Roscoe Drummond, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, may I return just a moment to the December 17 legislative meeting?


Q. Mr. Drummond: And without assuming that many things may be discussed at this meeting, I just wondered if you could indicate some of the subjects which you think would be especially important to be a part of the legislative program in which you would be most interested.

THE PRESIDENT. There are so many things that I really don't know where to start.

But, after all, you have the security program, and the expenditure program of the whole budget. You have taxes. You have efforts, of course, to balance the budget. Those subjects are all related.

You will have a farm program that must be ready to go in; you must have certain amendments to the labor law and a report on the conclusions of the executive branch on this matter.

You will have the policy on public housing, slum clearance, on extension of social security to where it must go, and as pledged in the platform. There will be then, of course, the matter of foreign aid, particularly the security portion--military aid.

Well, there are numerous others that have to come up, Mr. Drummond, and I certainly don't want the list I have given you to be considered as exclusive. But it will be, I hope, as complete a program right at the beginning as we can possibly make it.

Now, there are one or two subjects where we will have to be still a bit general because commissions appointed, with the approval of Congress, will not yet have completely reported.

So, let us say in foreign trade, while I will unquestionably repeat my complete conviction that there has got to be an increase in foreign trade, a freer flow of trade throughout the world if we are going to have a free world really hang together, still I can't talk in detail of what that Commission says.

So, one or two subjects will have to be dealt with--possibly-generally; but, all in all, I hope it will cover the whole field.

Q. Daniel Schorr, CBS--Radio: You said you hoped the issue of communism in Government would be over by the next election, and you added later that you would not interfere with the legislative branch in that connection.

Can your words be taken, however, as meaning that you would not encourage persons in the executive branch or in the party of which you are the titular leader to keep that issue alive?

THE PRESIDENT. To keep what?

Q. Mr. Schorr: The issue of communism in Government alive; that you would not encourage people, the executive branch--

THE PRESIDENT. No. Look, let me make myself clear. I hope that there is no more active opponent of communism as an ideology in the world than I am.

I believe that our whole future prosperity and happiness in this country depend upon the earnestness of our support of free institutions.

Now, wherever that presses in on us, I expect to be there as well as I know how, opposing it. But I do say that with the measures we now take and the care we take to appointing people to Government, and with the care that we have taken to look over these people--as I gave you a report the other day, 1,456 people had left the service either by resignation or because of some difficulty in that regard--certainly I still believe that vigilance, eternal vigilance, is the price of liberty, and I expect to exercise it.

What I mean is that I hope that the suspicion on the part of the American people that their Government services are, after all, weak in this regard, that that will have disappeared through the accomplishments of the executive branch.

Q. Anthony H. Leviero, New York Times: Mr. President, have you had any recent discussion concerning the International Labor Organization, and if so, have you any comment to make on our relationships to it?

THE PRESIDENT. As a matter of fact, you caught me at an unfortunate time.

I had a long conversation yesterday with Dr. Shotwell, and I have looked into it; but I have laid aside certain subjects there for further study and examination, and I am really not prepared to talk on it intelligently.

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, does it look to you now as though you may have to ask Congress to increase the national debt limit?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would say this, without now giving my personal judgment, because I haven't conferred with the Treasury in the last 3 or 4 weeks on this particular matter: I would say it is a decision that probably won't be finally reached until late December. As you know, if the bills coming in are of a certain size, then it is just a must, we must act; but you can always hope.

Q. Joseph A. Fox, Washington Evening Star: Mr. President, I want to get one thing cleared up. These bipartisan congressional conferences of which you spoke awhile ago, were those intended to be after Congress gets back rather than the preliminary sessions?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't give you the exact details because I haven't discussed the exact, what you might call, sequence of events. Certainly I want to conduct bipartisanship, particularly in foreign relations, on the basis where every view of the opposing party is consulted and, as in the past, accommodated just as much as we do our own. Now just how it will be done, Mr. Fox, I can't say.

Q. Mr. Fox: That is foreign affairs; you are not speaking of domestic affairs?

THE PRESIDENT. I am speaking of foreign affairs at the moment or, you might say, that domestic questions are always bound to come into any discussion of foreign affairs, as you know. So I don't mean to say if you mention domestic subjects they have to be thrown out of the room. I mean foreign affairs in all its aspects will be discussed with them.

Q. Fletcher Knebel, Cowles Publications: In light of Mr. Humphrey's speech in Detroit several weeks ago envisioning a possible deficit next year of eight or nine billion dollars, do you

still have any substantial hope of balancing the budget?


Q. Mr. Knebel: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't believe it can be done yet in '55. There are certain places, you know, where we believe that taxes we have had are unjust and probably stifle business more than they produce revenue, and that will create some gap.

There have been unusual expenditures, particularly in the farm program.

You see, for this past year, there was $800 million estimated for payments in farm products--don't quote me exactly, but as I remember, it was $ 1,880 million--so there have been some unusual expenses that caused a little trouble.

No, I don't believe we can do it in '55, as I see it now.

Q. Robert E. Clark, International News Service: President Truman has charged that your administration has now embraced McCarthyism. Do you have any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I am ready to take the verdict of this body on that.

Q. Several voices: We didn't hear the question.

THE PRESIDENT. The question was whether this administration has embraced something called McCarthyism. To start with, it is a term that I don't particularly understand, but I said I am ready to take the judgment of this body whether there is any truth in such a statement.

Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Mr. Brownell has some other duties. He is supposed to present a brief to the Supreme Court in about 2 weeks regarding the Justice Department's position on the question of racial segregation in the public schools.

Do you plan to confer with him before he puts that brief in the Court?

THE PRESIDENT. Indeed I do. We confer regularly, and this subject comes up along with others, constantly.

Q. Francis M. Stephenson, New York Daily News: Mr. President, speaking of Mr. Brownell, the office of Solicitor General, I think, has been vacant since last February, and I was wondering has he ever made any recommendation to you on that, to fill that?

THE PRESIDENT. We have talked over people that we wanted to put there, but for one reason or another they either went to other tasks or something turned up that we couldn't get them.

We have been very, very interested in getting the finest man that we can in the United States for the job.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's twenty-first news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:30 to 10:57 o'clock on Wednesday morning, November 18, 1953. In attendance: 179.

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/232429

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