Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

January 18, 1951

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

I have no special announcements for you this morning, but I will try to answer questions if I can.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, do you wish to comment on your meeting with Dr. Bennett and Mr. Rockefeller 1 yesterday, I believe on the point 4 program?

THE PRESIDENT. Had a very satisfactory meeting with them, and they are making great progress.

1Henry G. Bennett, Technical Cooperation Administrator, and Nelson A. Rockefeller, Chairman of the International Development Advisory Board.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, did you know in advance and approve of the plan of the State Department in sending Mr. Webb to Byrnes' inauguration? 2


2Under Secretary of State James E. Webb attended the inauguration of former Secretary of State James F. Byrnes as Governor of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C., on January 16, 1951. Governor Byrnes' inaugural address was printed in the Congressional Record (vol. 97, p. A358).

Q. And do you have any comment on that speech?

THE PRESIDENT. None. No comment.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, what can you say about price and wage controls and when they will be imposed?

THE PRESIDENT. I think they have been stated as they will be carried out--Mr. Wilson,3 I think, made a statement in Philadelphia last night on it, which is in line. They will carry it out just as fast as they can. As I have told you time and again here, it takes time.

3Charles E. Wilson, Director, Office of Defense Mobilization.

Q. There was some suggestion here that you went beyond what Mr. Wilson said last night; that is, that these controls would be put into effect within a few days, Mr. President ?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't say that. I said as soon as it was practicable.

Q. Well, I don't want to pursue the thing too far, but could you comment on--[laughter]--the fact that an unnamed official--

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

Q. Would you say--

THE PRESIDENT. I said no comment.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, there is a story in one of the morning papers that Eric Johnston is going to join Mr. Wilson as his chief economic adviser ?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't talked to Mr. Wilson about it, but I imagine he will talk to me, if he decides to do that. 4

4 Eric A. Johnston took office as Administrator of the Economic Stabilization Agency on January 24, 1951.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, could you tell us what you and Senator Anderson and the farmers of the Southwest talked about the other day about importing 400,000 Mexican nationals to work on the farms ?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think that matter was taken up with me.

Q. Could you tell us what you did talk about?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I don't remember.

[6.] Q. Do you have any comment on the action of the Chinese Communists in the rejection of the cease-fire ?

THE PRESIDENT. Dean Acheson commented on that completely yesterday, with my entire approval. He covered it thoroughly and completely, after consultation with the President. Be sure and make that plain.5

5For Secretary of State Acheson's statement, released to the press on January 17, see the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 24, p. 164).

[7.] Q. Mr. President, as the poor people have to pay the bulk of the new taxes anyway, is not a sales tax, or Federal sales tax, the easiest to pay ?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that. I am having my experts work on it now, and as soon as I get the opinion of the experts, then I will make up my mind on it.

Q. Mr. President, we understand you are having your experts work on the possibility of a sales tax ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I am not. I am having them work on the possibility of taxes necessary to raise the revenue to meet the expenses.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, now that the Chinese Communists have rejected the ceasefire proposal, will we try to get the United Nations to brand Communist China as an aggressor?


Q. And vigorously?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, Of course--with everything we can bring to bear. 6

6 For a statement by the President on Ambassador Austin's resolution declaring the Chinese Communists aggressors in Korea, see Item 22 [1].

[9.] Q. Mr. President, a report is published this morning to the effect that this Government is considering a diversionary action by Chiang Kai-shek's forces from Formosa to the mainland

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer you on that--

Q. --can you comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. --and I can't comment on it.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Fulbright has now introduced a bill which would abolish the RFC Board and substitute a single governor. It has been stated that he discussed that with you some weeks ago. Could you give us your personal comment on that idea, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. The only thing I can say to you is that we have been considering the situation with regard to the RFC, and I hope in a short time to come up with a suggestion.

Q. You haven't decided definitely yet--


Q.--at this time ?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't, until I get all the facts, and I don't think all the facts have been exposed as yet.

Q. And you are not definitely committed right now to the idea of reappointing the same five directors ?

THE PRESIDENT. The same five directors will continue to serve under the old appointments, but if it is necessary to reappoint them, I will do it.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, is it true that you are considering creation of a new FEPC for the war industries ?

THE PRESIDENT. The Budget Message answers that.7

7 See Item 13 (p. 80).

Q. Mr. President, can that be created--this is a question of mechanics--can that be created under the powers that you have, or must you have legislation?

THE PRESIDENT. When the time comes to do it, we will find out the best way to do it, and do it legally. It will not be done illegally! [Laughter]

[12.] Q. Mr. President, this question may be too early, but have you yet decided whether you will address the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the American Republics ?

THE PRESIDENT. It has been suggested by the Secretary of State that I address them, and I have the matter under consideration. 8

8See Item 59.

[13.] Q. This is a local question--I didn't mean to--

THE PRESIDENT. That's all right.

Q.--ask it--you have in the past expressed your approval of the Passamaquoddy tidal power project. The Maine delegation yesterday introduced a bill for funds for a major survey. Could you say whether you would favor a major survey?

THE PRESIDENT. I have always favored it. I am for the Bay of Fundy project, May. I don't want to confine it to the Passamaquoddy project. I am for the Bay of Fundy project, which is the whole project and includes Canada.

Q. International?


[14.] Q. Mr. President, have you asked Dr. Steelman 9 to try again for a settlement of the wage dispute

THE PRESIDENT. No, I didn't ask him in the first place to take any hand in it. He was requested by the railroad unions to take a hand in that, and he accommodated them. They reached an agreement and signed it.

9John R. Steelman, The Assistant to the President.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, the Democratic leadership of the Senate is preparing a resolution, in which it will say that if it is necessary, it will be desirable to send troops to Europe at this time. Was that move taken with your consent?

THE PRESIDENT. I know nothing about it. If the Democratic majority in the Senate takes an action like that, I shall appreciate it very highly. 10

10 See Item 71.

Q. Would you abide by the--or is that beside the point--by the outcome of the vote?

THE PRESIDENT. What's that?

Q. Would you abide by the outcome of the vote, or have you--

THE PRESIDENT. I shall do whatever is necessary to meet the situation as it comes up.

Q. Mr. President, I would like to get that clear. You would like to see the Senate approve--

THE PRESIDENT. I would appreciate it very highly.

Q. If they would affirmatively approve the sending of troops--

THE PRESIDENT. Why certainly--certainly. Of course I would appreciate it, but I will do whatever is necessary to meet the situation when it comes up.

Q. Mr. President, you don't intend to request that as an administration--

THE PRESIDENT. No. I am making no request. I think I was told that it was the Democratic majority in the Senate that was working on it, and I am happy that they are.

Q. That is the resolution which would express approval of your--

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q.--existing authority?

THE PRESIDENT. That is right--which is constitutional, by the way. [Laughter] You know, it's a peculiar situation, sometimes, that arises here. Last week, I made it perfectly plain exactly what I would like to do with the legislative branch of the Government, and the statement that I made about consultation was not quoted in a single paper in the United States. At the--at the same time, 2 or 3 weeks ago, there was a question came up here about atomic energy and its use for national defense. It was rather badly garbled and created an argument that was entirely unnecessary.

Now, I will appreciate it most highly, in this emergency, if you will state the facts as I state them to you. That's all I ask. I don't care what you say on the editorial page, but I wish you would state the facts on the news pages just as they are.

And I am not scolding you, I am just stating a fact.

Q. Mr. President, what was that statement that was not used last week ?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, I will have somebody read it to you. I didn't bring it with me, but I made a clear and complete statement about consulting the legislative branch, and it wasn't quoted anywhere. I will send it to you. 11

11 Later in the day the White House issued the following release:

"The question and answer from last week's press and radio conference to which the President referred today was as follows:

"QUESTION: Well, Mr. President, Senator Connally did not dispute your right to do so, he defended it; but he said that he understood you would consult with Congress before you would do it, and continuing: 'It is my understanding that administration leaders plan to do so.

"ANSWER: We always do that. We never make any moves in foreign affairs or on any domestic affairs, or any other affairs, that we do not very considerably consult with the committees that are interested in it. We have always done that, and there has been no change in that policy, and won't be. And any Senator who wants to talk to the President can always get a date to do it."

Q. I would sure like to see it.

THE PRESIDENT. I will give it to you.

Q. I know that I reported it fully out of here.

THE PRESIDENT. I will send it to you. You may have. I am not blaming you. It is sometimes the rewrite man that scratches things out.

Q. Mr. President, I said that you would consult members of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees.

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q. Mr. President, I am sure we all reported that.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you probably did, I say, but sometimes your rewrite man doesn't do exactly what you want.

Q. Mr. President, you used the word "quote," as I understand it. My office called the White House to check if that particular section could be quoted, and was told no. We used it without quotation.

THE PRESIDENT. I will send you all a copy of it, so that you will understand just what I am talking about.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, are you going to have the House Ways and Means Committee members down to talk over taxes before they start their hearings ?

THE PRESIDENT. Whenever I have the tax message ready, I will have them down and discuss it with them, as I always do.

Q. Any idea when that tax message is going up, Mr. President ?

THE PRESIDENT. As quickly as I can get it ready. I can't set a date on it. The hearings are going to start the first part of February. I hope to have the message ready before the hearings start.

Q. Before the hearings?


12For the tax message, see Item 28.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, Eddie Folliard says, in an article in Look, that you do not choose to run

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think I used those words. Those are Coolidge's words. [Laughter] I don't think Eddie used those.

Q.--the idea that you would prefer to run for the Senate or the House.

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on it. The article speaks for itself, and it was a very nice article, I will say that for Eddie.13 [Laughter]

13Edward T. Foillard, "Truman Does Not Choose to Run," Look magazine, January 30, 1951, p. 31.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, are there any prospects you will be able to get away to Key West?

THE PRESIDENT. No prospects at the present time, I am sorry. I understand, though, that we haven't missed anything. It has been colder down there than it has been up here.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, if you will excuse me for saying so, I was at the last press conference. I don't recollect a thing you said that I didn't see in some papers.

THE PRESIDENT. I will send you a copy of this quote about which I am talking. It is a very interesting quote.

Q. The point we mean, Mr. President, is we didn't have permission under press conference rules to quote you directly

THE PRESIDENT. You don't have to alibi to me. I like all of you, and I think you are making a sincere effort to report things as they are. I am not blaming you at all for things that don't come out in the papers.

Q. I mean, we don't have authority to take it out and put it in quotation marks.

THE PRESIDENT. Of course you don't. That's true. You won't get it, either.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Holland has introduced a resolution to abolish the poll tax by constitutional amendment. I wonder if you had any comments on that, or on any of the other so-called compromise resolutions that Congressman Brooks Hays has discussed in the past?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't comment on it because I haven't read it carefully and I am not familiar with it; therefore I can't comment on it.

[21.] Q. How about comment on the atomic bomb?

THE PRESIDENT. I will invite you to read the New Yorker, which gave an exact and complete transcript of what was said and what was meant.14 It was all explained in the New Yorker. I am giving the New Yorker a kick, because they wrote a good article--just as I gave Eddie a kick over there awhile ago.

14John Hersey, "The Wayward Press; President Truman's press conference, November 30th," New Yorker, December 16, 1950. For the text of the press conference to which the article referred, see 1950 volume, this series, Item 295.

Q. You mean kick or plug, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. A kick upstairs, Smitty.15 I always consider that I am pushing them upstairs when I compliment them, and I think that is what I intend to do.

15Merriman Smith of the United Press Associations.

Q. Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and fifty-second news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 18, 1951.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230410

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