Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

March 02, 1950

THE PRESIDENT. [I.] I have no special announcements to make, but I have been trying to work out a situation that would make it more convenient at these press conferences. I have discussed the matter with Mr. Ross, and I will appreciate it if the White House correspondents will appoint a committee to confer with Mr. Ross.

I would like to find a place to hold these press conferences where the acoustics are good and where everybody would have a fair chance to hear the questions and to recognize the one who asks the question, and also to hear the answer plainly. This situation here is not satisfactory, especially to those who happen always to get in the rear ranks. And if you will please confer with Mr. Ross, we will see if we can't make some plan where everybody will have a better chance at these press conferences.

Q. Bravo.

Q. Thank you, sir.

Q. Mr. President, if you have no announcements, do you agree with Senator Humphrey and Senator Lucas that the Byrd Nonessential Expenditures Committee1 should be abolished?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't gone into that controversy, so I can't answer intelligently.

1 Joint Committee on Reduction of Nonessential Federal Expenditures, of which Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia served as chairman.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us about the Niagara treaty that was signed Monday by Canada and the United States, dealing with the diversion of water to falls and the creation of power there ?

THE PRESIDENT. That has been under consideration for some time, and we have finally reached an agreement on it. And it has been--I think it has been sent to the Senate for ratification. 2

2 See Item 99.

Q. It has been?

THE PRESIDENT. It will be, if it hasn't.

Q. No delay on that, so far as you know?

THE PRESIDENT. Not that I know of.

Q. What do you think about the possibility of Federal development of that power up there ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, you had better ask the Congress about that. I have been fighting for that for 15 years. If the Congress will perform, why, we will do the job.

Q. Is there a question between private development and Federal development?

THE PRESIDENT. Not so far as I am concerned. It is public development so far as I am concerned.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, you are having lunch today, I believe, with Dr. Li, who has been acting President of China?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right. And he is-still says he is.

Q. In what capacity is he coming in?

THE PRESIDENT. He is coming in as the acting President of China. That is the reason he was invited for luncheon.

Q. What happened to Chiang Kai-shek?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not in communication with Chiang. I can't tell you.[Laughter]

Q. He says he is going to come back on the mainland--I am not trying to get you on the spot over it, but anything interesting along that line would be--I think it would be

THE PRESIDENT. I have nothing to say on the subject.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, there is a story going around that after Judge Keech3 gets through with this coal case, that the Government is preparing to move in with seizure powers, and there will be a request from the Government. Is there anything on that you can tell us about ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't say anything about that because that matter is still pending in the courts, and I don't want to make any announcements or suggest any action until the court has had a chance to decide.4

3 Judge Richmond B. Keech of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

4 See Items 49, 50.

Q. Mr. President, there is another report that the order for seizure has been drawn up--technical draft?

THE PRESIDENT. There has always been a technical draft of all the war powers on hand, in case it is necessary to use them. Nothing new.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, I understand the Security Council does not think much of these ideas that are going around, preparing to move the Capital. Is there anything you could tell us about that ?

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

Q. What do you think of it?

THE PRESIDENT. I am very well satisfied right where I am now, and I feel .perfectly safe. [Laughter]

[6.] Q. Mr. President, are you considering the State Department proposal to form an interdepartmental committee to unify domestic and foreign economic policies?

THE PRESIDENT. Ask that question again. I didn't get it.

Q. There is a report that the State Department proposes to form an interdepartmental committee to consider unifying domestic and foreign economic policies?

THE PRESIDENT. That may be under consideration. It has not been put up to me.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, James F. Byrnes proposed today that we abolish the withholding tax, on the theory that tax paying is more painful and there might be emphasis on economy. I wonder if that would really help ?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. You will have to talk to Mr. Byrnes on that. He has had a lot of experience. [Laughter]

[8.] Q. Mr. President, I had in mind the fact that President Gonzalez of Chile is to come up here, I believe in April. Have you yet formulated or approved an itinerary, or do you have any general comment about the visit?

THE PRESIDENT. No, he will be treated as all these heads of states are. Whatever he chooses to see and examine. We will furnish him with all the hospitality this country can furnish--as we always furnish it.

Q. You are looking forward to his visit?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh yes, he has already accepted the invitation.

Q. I don't know when it would be.

THE PRESIDENT. April 12th, I think, is the date.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, you have mentioned seizure of the coal mines. Do you still have any of your war powers--


Q. All expired?

THE PRESIDENT. All expired.

Q. Mr. President, would that apply also to your inherent powers?

THE PRESIDENT. No--fine line to be drawn--we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Q. Mr. President, Henry Ford says the situation is so serious that the country will be closed down--he makes it very sweeping, a weeks--if these coal strikes continue. Do you think that the situation is that serious?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question. I don't know whether it is or not. I know the situation is very serious. It is an emergency. And that is what the law provides, that in case of an emergency we have to consider certain procedures. We have been following the law to the letter trying to enforce it.

Q. Mr. President, is this the first time that you have said to us that it is an emergency?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it is not. I announced an emergency when I appointed the board. It requires the announcement of an emergency, and that board has to find an emergency before the court can act.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, there has been quite a lot of criticism lately that the economies in the Defense Department have weakened our defenses dangerously. Could you comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think that is true. I don't think there is a word of truth in it. You can speculate on anything you like, but I think you will find that the national defense situation is in better shape than it has ever been in times when we were not at war.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, there have been some reports recently that you plan to turn over the loyalty reports to the committee making that investigation. Can you tell us something about that?

THE PRESIDENT. I think I made the statement here the other day that I was perfectly willing to cooperate with the committee in furnishing them with information. We will cross the loyalty file business when we get to it.

But just for your information, if people really were in earnest and had the welfare of the country at heart, and they really thought that somebody in the Government was not loyal or did not do his job right, the proper person with whom to take that up is the President of the United States.

And the President of the United States is the only one who has taken any concrete action on any of these things. The appointment of this loyalty board, and the screening of employees when the word got around that there might be some disloyal ones among the employees in the Government, was done by the President.

The prosecution of the Communists in this country for disloyalty and sabotage has been carried on at the direction of the President. I don't think anybody else has made any concrete endeavor to get to the bottom of this thing except the President of the United States and the executive branch of the Government.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, the civil rights conference here--to which you sent a note of greeting--wound up by adopting a resolution asking you to appoint a commission to make a thorough study of the establishment of civil rights, particularly as affecting--civil liberties--particularly as affecting the loyalty program. Do you plan--

THE PRESIDENT. As affected by what?

Q. By the loyalty program.

THE PRESIDENT. I think that the loyalty program was worked out with civil liberties in view. And I think if you will follow the procedure that was followed by the loyalty investigations, you will find that nobody's civil liberties have been infringed, and nobody's civil liberties will be infringed. I think I made that perfectly clear when I was talking to the district attorneys and the law enforcement officers who were here the other day. If you will read the speech,5 I think you will get the fundamental basis on which I am trying to uphold the Bill of Rights. That is one of the most important--I think the most important part of the Constitution of the United States.

5 Item 37.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, yesterday Senator Harry F. Byrd suggested that he would turn over his salary in order to balance the budget. Have you any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. That is a very liberal gesture on the part of the Senator.[Laughter]

Pete6 has been trying to ask a question.

[14.] Q. Do you think Senator McMahon's proposals on the conference are feasible?7

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

What was your question?

6 Raymond P. Brandt of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

7 Senator Brien McMahon of Connecticut had proposed that the United Nations General Assembly hold a meeting in Moscow.

Q. That was part of mine. I wondered if you are going to Moscow soon to--

THE PRESIDENT. I think I made it perfectly plain that I am not going to Moscow ever. The door is open here for anybody that wants to come to this country, but I am not going to Moscow.

Q. That is a perfectly plain answer, but may I make an amendment in addition to Pete's question? McMahon is apparently trying to do something along the line that you have suggested through the United Nations--

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q.--and if he does such a thing, would you object to it?

THE PRESIDENT. Why certainly not--certainly not. I will object to nothing that will contribute to the peace of the world. I will cooperate wholeheartedly with anything that will contribute to the peace of the world. I think I have made that perfectly plain all the time.

Q. Yes.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, would you accept an invitation from the President of Chile to come down there?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would like to, very much, but I can't accept right now, definitely.

Q. I believe there is to be a power project that has been built by American money dedicated down there in the spring?

THE PRESIDENT. So I understand.

Q. That would be the occasion that they would want you to come?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't make any commitments for any trips away from Washington at the present time.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, have you decided on a trip in May over to Chicago and the Midwest?

THE PRESIDENT. That is under contemplation, but when the decision is made, why it will be announced in plenty of time so that you can get your grip packed. [Laughter]

[17.] Q. How did you interpret the British elections ?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't interpret it-[laughter]--plenty of people that will do that for me.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, the real estate lobby seems to have launched a new campaign to end rent control by June 30th. Do you have anything to say about that?

THE PRESIDENT. I had my say about that in the Message to Congress on the State of the Union. I am still behind that message.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, when you said you weren't going to Moscow ever, you mean in connection with the present series of problems ?

THE PRESIDENT. I mean that I will never go to Moscow while I am President of the United States. That make it perfectly plain? I hope I will have a chance to go them when I get through being President. [Laughter] I would like to see the place.

Q. Any idea when that might be, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well--[more laughter]your guess is as good as mine.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on the sentencing of Dr. Fuchs?8

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

8 Dr. Klaus Fuchs, German-born official of the British Government's atomic energy establishment, who was sentenced on March 1 to 14 years in prison for disclosing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and nineteenth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 2, 1950.

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/230708

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