Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

January 04, 1951

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

I have no special announcements to make this morning. I will try to answer questions, however.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on the change in the Rules Committee of the House?

THE PRESIDENT. No. The House makes its own rules, and we will try and operate with the rules, as usual, hoping to get the program through in the usual manner.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Taft, in that connection, said yesterday that in delaying your State of the Union Message 1 week you hold up the work of the Congress a weeks?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't see how that message could have been delayed 1 week when Congress only started yesterday. If you look up the record, you will find that the message on the state of the Union is being delivered as promptly as it ever is in any year. It takes the Congress, anyhow, another a weeks to organize.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on the military situation as it is now developing in Korea ?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment. [Pause]

What's the matter with these press conferences ? The last time I had it, I urged you to get up--

Q. We're making notes, Mr. President.

Q. We're writing it down--

[4.] Q. Mr. President, this is a question I asked you a few weeks ago, and I will ask it again. At what point do you have to consult Congress on its constitutional right to declare war?

THE PRESIDENT. I will take care of that, May 1 when the time comes. It isn't here yet.

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

Q. You know that a resolution by Mr. Coudert of New York 2--

THE PRESIDENT. I read something about it in the paper. I have not received any official notice of it.

2On January 3, 1951, Representative Frederic R. Coudert, Jr., of New York, introduced a joint resolution (H.J. Res. 9) requiring congressional authorization for sending military forces abroad. The resolution was referred to the Committee on Armed Services.

Q. Mr. President, I didn't get your answer to her first question, I was getting her question--

THE PRESIDENT. I said the proper action would be taken on that when the time came, but the time is not here yet. I hope it will never come.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, General Eisenhower is shortly to leave for Europe on a rather important assignment, perhaps the most important assignment this country has to offer anyone at this time.3 Can you comment on that today?

THE PRESIDENT. The General is coming to see me, and after we have had a conference, I will comment on it.

3On December 19, 1950, the President had designated General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (see 1950 volume, this series, Items 308 and 310).

Q. When do you plan to see him, sir ?

THE PRESIDENT. I think the date is Saturday morning. I'm not sure. I think that's it.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, I am rather puzzled by Mrs. Craig's question. Has there been some change in the procedure--

THE PRESIDENT. Not at all. There has been no change whatever. That was just a confusing question, Bob,4 that's all it was.

4 Robert G. Nixon of International News Service.

Q. It confused me a little.

THE PRESIDENT. The answer was not confused.

Q. No, sir.

Q. Sir, do you consider that my question was confusing?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Intended for that purpose, May, I think.

Q. No, sir, it is being discussed at the Capitol a good deal, that we are at war and that Congress has not declared war.

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment to make on that, May.

Q. Yes, sir.

Q. Well, Mr. President, the Nation is not formally at war, isn't that so?

THE PRESIDENT. No--that is correct. We are carrying out an obligation for the United Nations.

Q. I beg your pardon, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Carrying out an obligation for the United Nations, one which was assumed when we signed the charter.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, are we going to ask the United Nations for permission to bomb China ?

THE PRESIDENT. I have that--do not have that under consideration.

Q. Do not--all right, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. That might require the action that May is talking about.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, since this is 1951, how do you view the prospects of this Nation staying out of war in 1951?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't comment on that now. I sincerely hope, of course, personally, that we will not get into war. That has been my fight for 5 years. But I can't now comment on your question very well.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, now that we have an ambassador in Spain, is there any contemplation of including Spain in the NATO program and the international army?

THE PRESIDENT. It has not been under consideration-

Q. Has not been ?

THE PRESIDENT. It has not been under consideration. At least, not by me.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, may I clear up a point?


Q. You said you were--that the Government did not have under consideration asking the United Nations for permission to bomb China. Is that correct, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct--that's correct.

Q. Well, Mr. President, is it correct to assume that we would not bomb China without checking it with the United Nations?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, can we further infer that you still have hopes of diplomatic negotiations that will--

THE PRESIDENT. We are always hopeful for negotiations to settle the difficulty.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, do you intend to renominate the RFC Board?

THE PRESIDENT. I have it under consideration.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, you said that you were hopeful of negotiations. Does that mean that you are in favor of a 4-power conference?

THE PRESIDENT. That matter was answered yesterday by the Secretary of State just as it is--if you will read that--that statement of his was approved by me.5

5For the statement by Secretary of State Dean Acheson at his press conference on January 3, 1951, concerning the proposed foreign ministers meeting, see the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 24, p. 90).

[14.] Q. Mr. President, nobody has asked you a question about price controls yet this morning. Is anything--any action in view by the Government in the near future on controls?

THE PRESIDENT. We are working on that all the time, and just as fast as we can get around to it. It is a tremendous job to set up a price control organization, and they are working on it constantly, and I think it will go into effect as fast as it is physically possible to get it done.

Q. Will that include the so-called essentials of living?

THE PRESIDENT. That would require an amendment to the law.

Q. Would you elaborate on that just a little bit, sir? I didn't understand what would require an amendment to the law.

THE PRESIDENT. Control of the price of farm products.

Q. Mr. President, does this program that you speak of, then, mean that we would put everything under price control and wage control if the law permits ?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct. As soon as it is possible to get it done.

Q. Just to bottle it up correctly, Mr. President, they are working now on a plan to put price control and wage controls wherever it can be done within the law? You would have to have a change in the law to deal with foods ?

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct.

Q. Would you recommend, Mr. President, that the Congress make such a change in the law?

THE PRESIDENT. I will let you know about that in the State of the Union Message. 6

6 Item 4, this volume.

Q. Mr. President, you are referring to the farm parity problem?


[15.] Q. Mr. President, would you clear up--I wasn't clear--

THE PRESIDENT. I beg your pardon?

Q.--I wasn't clear on what you hoped to be settled by diplomatic negotiations. Is that the situation in Korea?

THE PRESIDENT. All the troubles in the world.

Q. I beg your pardon, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. All the troubles in the world. That is what the United Nations was set up for.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, I am afraid some of us didn't quite get clear your reply on price controls and wage controls?

THE PRESIDENT. I said that the price and wage controls would be put into effect as soon as it is physically possible to get it done where they are necessary.

Q. "Should" be or "will" be ?


Q. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. --that's the word--will.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, on Mr. Collingwood's7 question on the Big Four-- [inaudible] --that is apart from the United Nations?

THE PRESIDENT. The Big Four now works under the direction of the United Nations because the United Nations Charter takes the place of all those things, and the United Nations is the forum in which we have to make world peace if it can be made. It is all right for the Big Four to negotiate on things that specifically affect the Big Four, and that is what that program is for.

7 Charles Collingwood of the Columbia Broadcasting System.

Q. That wouldn't--the Big Four takes care of all those things in the United Nations?

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct. I think negotiation is the proper way to settle all these things. That is the reason we set up the United Nations.

Q. Mr. President, I don't want to labor the point


Q.--but the--I think we have addressed ourselves in a note to Russia that we want to explore all the problems--that are causing tension--in the Big Four? 8

THE PRESIDENT. That's right, causing tension between the United Sates and Russia, if you want to be specific about it--

8For the text of the U.S. note of December 22, 1950, see Department of State Bulletin (vol. 24, p. 11)

Q. Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. -- that's correct--that's correct.

Q. Now we will take that up with the Big Four. Now I wonder what the differentiation is--in your mind--between that and the United Nations--I mean, is there some--[inaudible]

THE PRESIDENT. No, it is not. That is under the--when we settle those differences, the United Nations will be in complete operation.

Q. I see, sir.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, do you believe that you need the approval of Congress to send additional troops to Europe? That seems to be--

THE PRESIDENT. No, I do not.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, a lot of us--a lot of people are concerned about delays. They are wondering why it takes this long, since the bill was passed last September,9 to set up these price control and wage controls; and they are wondering why the military appropriations bill to Congress was delayed last November; and they are wondering why the message is delayed. Can you tell the American people why?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I will tell them why. Not here. You can answer that question yourself, if you will think just a little bit about it.

9 The Defense Production Act of 1950, approved September 8, 1950 (64 Stat. 798).

[20.] Q. Mr. President, when the phrase "Big Four" is used, that refers to the level of the foreign ministers, or--

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct. That refers to the foreign ministers of Russia, France, Great Britain, and the United States.

Q. Not to the heads of states?

THE PRESIDENT. Not to the heads of state.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, I am afraid I am still a little confused about this price and wage control. I understood you to say at one point that you are taking steps to put everything under price and wage control just as soon as it can be done. Then I understood you to say later that price and wage controls would be put into effect as soon as possible where they are necessary?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct. I think eventually it is going to be necessary for a complete across-the-board proposition, but that will require some legislation, as I told you a while ago.

Q. That is rationing --

THE PRESIDENT. How's that?

Q. --rationing, or you mean price and wage control ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we will cross that bridge when we get to it.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, this is a local question.


Q. Have you received a letter from the Maine congressional delegation suggesting that surplus potatoes should be turned into industrial alcohol rather than destroyed ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't received any such letter.

Q. I think it has been sent to you. Would you comment on that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, last night at a dinner, Senator Taft said that he liked to talk to women reporters because he could tell them that he would like to kick President Truman's teeth in. Is there any place, Mr. President, where you would like to kick him? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, no! No comment on that. [More laughter]

[24.] Q. Mr. President, how do you feel about the leadership which the Senate selected--Senator McFarland of Arizona

THE PRESIDENT. I am very fond of Senator McFarland. I wrote him a letter of congratulations yesterday.

Q.--and Senator Johnson ?

THE PRESIDENT. And Senator Johnson of Texas in the same category. They are both friends of mine and always have been.

[25.] Q. Mr. President, do you think satisfactory progress is being made in the control of inflation?

THE PRESIDENT. I think we are making the best progress that it is possible to make. I don't know whether it is satisfactory or not, that depends entirely on the viewpoint.

[26.] Q. May I ask a frivolous question?

THE PRESIDENT. Sure. [Laughter]

Q. Do you have any comment on the London tailors who seem to be quite horrified about your manner of dress ?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think it's any of their business! [Laughter]

Q. Couldn't hear the question, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. He wanted to know if I had any comment on the London--horrification of the London tailors over the way I dress, and I said it is none of their business.

Q. It's the neckties--it was the neckties.

THE PRESIDENT. What's the matter with the neckties ?

Q. They didn't say--but they said they were awful.

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, did they? There are a lot of awful ones in the United Sates then.

[27.] Q. Mr. President, to go back once more to the price control--

THE PRESIDENT. All right, Smitty,10 go ahead.

10Merriman Smith of the United Press Associations.

Q. --you said controls eventually would be necessary for complete across-the-board wage and price control and it would require additional legislation. You envision food in that eventuality?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, of course. That is one of the fundamental causes of the rise in the cost of living.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and forty-ninth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 4, 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/230637

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