Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

March 01, 1951

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] Please sit down. I had a very satisfactory telephone call this morning. The 15 nonoperating unions, representing a million workers, reached an agreement at the bargaining table.

I congratulate them, and I congratulate the carriers also, for having reached that agreement. And that agreement was reached without any threats of strikes, or any strike, and I think everybody is happy over it.1

Now I am ready for questions.

1For an earlier statement on the railroad situation, see Item 33 [1].

[2.] Q. Mr. President, did you receive a telephone call this morning from the Labor Policy Committee?

THE PRESIDENT. I received a telephone call from Mr. Steelman2 about this settlement I am telling you about. I had no telephone call from the Labor Policy Committee. I am not expecting one.

2 Dr. John R. Steelman, The Assistant to the President.

Q. Mr. President, it seems that labor's principal objection to the defense organization is the tenure in office of Mr. Charles Wilson.3 Do you plan any change?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I do not. I didn't know about that.

3 Charles E. Wilson, Director, Office of Defense Mobilization. On February 28 the United Labor Policy Committee had withdrawn union representatives from all mobilization agencies.

Q. What was that, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I said I didn't know about that statement he just made.

Q. Well, Mr. President, I wonder if you would tell us what you plan to do about labor's boycott of the defense mobilization program?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

Q. Do you think it is a rather serious situation?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

Q. Will it delay you, or in any way change your traveling plans?

THE PRESIDENT. Not at all--so you can pack your grips and get ready to go on Friday.

Q. Mr. President, does the presence of the Secretary of Labor4 here this morning mean anything?

THE PRESIDENT. He happened to be at the White House for a conference and I brought him over.

4 Secretary of Labor Maurice J. Tobin.

Q. Mr. President, what do you plan to work out if the Wage Stabilization Board's labor members refuse to go back?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. No comment. When I take the action, you will all

know about it.

[3.] Q. Well, Mr. President, that question kind of--I was a little slow on my feet--could you tell us--

THE PRESIDENT. You never are, May,5 but go ahead. [Laughter]

5 Mrs. May Craig of the Portland (Maine) Press Herald.

Q.--could you tell us what the Secretary of Labor's conference was about?


Q. You said he was in for a conference?


[4.] Q. Mr. President, in the light of events, have you changed your evaluation of the Fulbright plan report? 6

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

6"Study of Reconstruction Finance Corporation: Favoritism and Influence," interim report of the Committee on Banking and Currency, February 5, 1951 (Senate Report 76, 82d Cong.).

[5.] Q. Mr. President, I notice that General Romulo and the Philippine Ambassador7 called on you yesterday. Do you care to make any comment?

THE PRESIDENT. I had a very pleasant conference with General Romulo and the Ambassador. And the general informed me that, as soon as he has finished his work in the United Nations, he was going to the Philippines and going to try to help implement the Bell report.8

7Gen. Carlos P. Romulo, Foreign Secretary of the Philippines and Philippine Delegate to the United Nations, and His Excellency Joaquin M. Elizalde, Philippine Ambassador to the United States.

8"Report to the President of the United States by the Economic Survey Mission to the Philippines" (Department of State Publication 4010; Government Printing Office, 1950).

[6.] Q. One of the labor men, general chairman of the Katy Railroad9 Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, said yesterday that labor men still felt that they could not get your ear, and they felt that if Franklin Roosevelt had been in the White House that the matter would have been taken care of months ago. Would you care to comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, my only comment on that is--is that the situation is one of collective bargaining, and the President ought not to interfere with collective bargaining.

9 The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, we have word from Moscow this morning that the Russians have accepted a preliminary meeting of Big Four representatives. Do you have any comment on their action?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course I haven't, because I don't know about it yet. Maybe it will come to me during the day.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, have you any opinion on the Kefauver crime report? 10

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't.

10 "Second Interim Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Organized Crime in Interstate Commerce" (Senate Report 141, 82d Cong., 1st sess.; Government Printing Office, 1951; 35 pp.). Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee was chairman of the committee.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, who is this collective bargaining between, that you refer to?

THE PRESIDENT. Between the railroad operators and the unions, that's all.

Q. lust the railroads?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. You weren't referring to the other--

THE PRESIDENT. Not at all--not at all. The only reason they ever came to the White House was at their own request. I didn't ask them there.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, do you feel that the mobilization agency can operate without the active support of organized labor?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment.

Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on the contention by the labor group that labor is not properly represented in the mobilization--

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. You might just as well quit. You had better ask questions about something I can answer. [Laughter]

[11.] Q. I will try then. Do you still feel, Mr. President, that there is no point in Mr. Donald Dawson11 testifying before the Fulbright committee?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

11 Donald S. Dawson, Administrative Assistant to the President, formerly personnel director of the RFC.

Q. May I ask you this question, sir. Have you read any of the seven, eight, or nine hundred letters written to the RFC by Members of Congress?12

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, yes. I have read a lot of them.

12 See Item 33 [2].

Q. Could you tell us about any of them?

THE PRESIDENT. No, sir--and I won't.

Q. Another question, sir, on that subject. Has the job status of Mrs. Merl Young13 been changed in the White House?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. I hate to treat you this way. I would like to give you a lot of headlines. [Laughter]

13Mrs. E. Merl Young, a secretarial assistant in the office of the personal secretary to the President.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, the Vice Chairman of the National Resources Board has resigned. Is Symington going to resign?14

THE PRESIDENT. Not that I know of. He hasn't said so to me.

14Earlier in the day, the White House had released an exchange of correspondence between the President and Robert J. Smith in which the President accepted Mr. Smith's resignation as Vice Chairman of the National Security Resources Board, to become effective on March 15, 1951. W. Stuart Symington was Chairman of the Board. On April 17, Mr. Symington was appointed Administrator of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (see Item 82).

[13.] Q. Mr. President, would you be able to tell us whether the 22d amendment would have any effect on your future plans?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, sir, I think I commented on that, through Mr. Short, that the amendment did not affect President Truman. And that's all the comment I have to make.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, does Mr. Charles E. Wilson still have your full confidence?

THE PRESIDENT. He certainly has.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, in view of this labor development, do you plan to make any public appeal in regard to this situation, or could you say--could you tell us of any steps you might have in view?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't comment on that at the present time.

Q. Do you regard it as a very serious development in our--


[16.] Q. Mr. President, maybe you can tell us this?

THE PRESIDENT. All right, go ahead. What is this, foreign relations? [Laughter]

Q. No, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. He's an expert on foreign relations.

Q. I am sort of curious whether Mr. Tobin's conference this morning had anything to do with the possibility of changing your manpower setup?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it did not.

Q. Well, Mr. President, I wonder if you would go a little further--do you feel confident that labor, by and large, will continue to meet the Nation's needs in producing these weapons and other things necessary in the mobilization effort?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, let me tell you something. Sometime back, I declared a national emergency, and that national emergency affects every segment of the economy. And the program that we are trying to implement is one that will not ruin the most prosperous Nation in the world, but will be worked out in such a manner that that prosperity can continue. And if that prosperity can continue, it affects labor, farmers, industry, white-collar people, and everybody in the Nation.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, I would like to get into foreign relations, if I may?

THE PRESIDENT. Sure, go ahead.

Q. In a statement on the powers of the President, which was sent to the Capitol from the executive departments, it says that the use of congressional power to declare war has fallen into abeyance because wars are no longer declared in advance. How would you fill the gap between the constitutional declaration of war by Congress and the Executive actions?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, I would advise you to read the history of 1941--December 7. I think that will answer your question.

Q. Well, couldn't you tell me how you propose to do it?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I cannot, because Iam not faced with any such condition.

Q. Well, may I ask you one other question--


Q.--in relation to the same document? It says that debates over the prerogatives and powers of Congress and the President are essentially sterile, if not dangerous, to the success of the foreign policy?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q. Do you mean that Congress ought not even to debate foreign policy?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, no. I don't mind their talking about anything they want to. This is a free country. They can make any number of speeches they want, on any subject they want to, but that does not mean that it helps the relations with the rest of the world.

Q. Do you think then, that congressional participation in the declaration of war is completely out?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I didn't say that.

Q. Well, I am trying to get--

THE PRESIDENT. I know what you are trying to get, you are trying to get a concrete answer from me, and you are not going to get it. [Laughter]

[18.] Q. Mr. President, any comment on the Japanese treaty?15

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have no comment on that.

15On February 27, 1951, a White House release announced that John Foster Dulles had given the President an oral report of the activities of the Japanese Peace Mission in Japan, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand. Mr. Dulles reported that exploratory conversations with leaders of these countries had promoted closer agreement as to a peace settlement. The release further stated that the President expressed his gratification and asked the Mission to continue its work.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, have you any comment on the disclosures made so far in the investigation campaign against Senator Tydings?16

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have no comment. I think they speak for themselves.

16The Subcommittee on Privileges and Elections of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration was holding hearings on the Maryland senatorial election of 1950, in which John Marshall Butler defeated the incumbent Millard E. Tydings.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, the demands of labor were set forth at this policy meeting. They were put forward as recommendations by Mr. Johnston.17 Would the President approve those modifications as an order, were they so put to him?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I think Mr. Johnston wrote that letter in an endeavor to get things straightened out. And I think he made a sincere effort to get it done.

17Eric A. Johnston, Administrator, Economic Stabilization Agency.

Q. Mr. President, do you anticipate or expect labor to return to the mobilization effort?

THE PRESIDENT. I will tell you about that in a couple of weeks, Smitty.18

18 Merriman Smith of the United Press Associations.

Q. Mr. President, what do you think of labor's charge that the whole mobilization program is being run by big business? That seems to be their--

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think there is any necessity for my commenting on that.

Q. Mr. President, do you consider the walkout of the labor delegation in the nature of a strike against the Government?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, no. Just a disagreement.

Q. Mr. President, you said that you would tell us about that in a couple of weeks. Are you thinking in terms of any specific statement?

THE PRESIDENT. No. You will be down in Key West, Smitty. I will talk to you then.

[21.] Q. Do you think the price control measures taken so far by Mr. DiSalle19 really will do anything to prevent soaring prices?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course I do.

19 Michael V. DiSalle, Director of Price Stabilization.

Q. How?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, read the report of the Department of Agriculture which just came out. That will help you.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, does that "couple of weeks" suggest you are going to sit on this thing about that long before you act?

THE PRESIDENT. It might be 1 week, it might be 2 weeks, it might be 3 weeks--3 months. You can't tell. You had better wait and see how developments come out.

Q. I didn't understand that question, what was that?

THE PRESIDENT. He wanted to know whether my "couple of weeks" statement meant any specific time. I was just trying to say it did not.

Q. Well, Mr. President the way he phrased the question was whether you were going to sit on the problem for that--

THE PRESIDENT. I never sit on any problem. [Laughter]

[23.] Q. Mr. President, this is along the same line. Would you not go along with this statement, that labor should have more power in policy-making in this emergency than in the last war?

THE PRESIDENT. I won't go along on any statement that I don't make myself.

Q. Mr. President, would you care to make a statement on what labor should do at this point?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I would not.

Q. I think we might as well give up, Mr. President--

Q. Have we overlooked anything? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Tony20 says we ought to give up. No, I have no further comments, Smitty.

20Ernest B. Vaccaro of the Associated Press.

Q. Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer any questions you have got on your mind! [More laughter]

Note: President Truman's two hundred and fifty-sixth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 10:35 a.m. on Thursday, March 1, 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/231453

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