Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

March 03, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I have one announcement to make. Mr. Forrestal is resigning effective the 31st of March, and Louis Johnson will succeed him as Secretary of Defense.

Q. Mr. President, is Mr. Kenneth Royall also resigning?

THE PRESIDENT. No--he has not.

Q. Did you talk with Mr. Royall this afternoon? He came out--

THE PRESIDENT. He stopped in to see me about another matter--not that.

Q. Mr. President, has Mr. Forrestal resigned at his own request, or yours ?

THE PRESIDENT. At his own request. He has been trying to resign for a year. The letters will be released and will be available for you after the press conference. It will tell the truth and the facts.

Q. Trying to resign for over a year?

Q. Is that time March 31?

THE PRESIDENT. March 31st.

Q. Mr. President, did you say Mr. Royall is not resigning?


[2.] Q. Mr. President, how about these meetings you have been having at night with industrial leaders

THE PRESIDENT. They are my--they are my private business, and there is no comment on it.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, a couple of weeks ago we asked you about possible relaxation of credit controls, and at that time you said

you did not have them in mind.

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. As they were relaxed, could you give us some idea of what happened in the meantime that caused you to change?

THE PRESIDENT. The matter was under consideration by the Federal Reserve Board, and by the Board of Economic Advisers, and by the Senate-House Committees on economic reports; and between us we all came to the conclusion that some relaxation was necessary, and that's the reason it was done. 1

1 The installment-buying changes announced by the Federal Reserve Board on March 2 extended the period of installment payments to 21 months instead of the 15 to 18 months formerly permitted. The Board also reduced down payments from the previous 20 percent requirement to 15 percent, except in the case of automobiles where a 33 1/3 percent down payment was still required

Q. Could you give us a little bit of the reasoning that led you to do it, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, haven't you been familiar with the economic situation as it has developed?

Q. Well, if I have, I would like to get you to say it. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. You won't do that.

Q. Mr. President, do you plan to ask for extension of consumer credit regulations beyond June 30th ?


Q. Mr. President, in the report of the Council of Economic Advisers that was transmitted with your economic message, they said to abandon the restraining influences at this time would increase our vulnerability to inflationary strains.

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct. You see, the objective of the Full Employment Act of 1946 was to put us in a position to meet either a spiral going up or one going down, and that is--those powers are being used within--in the commonsense way to prevent the thing from going in either direction.

Q. Does this mean that the spiral is going down ?

THE PRESIDENT. Not necessarily.

Q. Is it going up ?

THE PRESIDENT. It's going both ways. [Laughter] I will prove it to you. The only fall in prices has been in farm products. Lead, zinc, and iron, and all those things that go to make up building materials are on the same spiral they have always been, and so we are trying to get that thing leveled off by 'putting a roof on the spiral going up and putting a floor on the spiral going down. That is the objective of the whole thing. That is the reason the bill was passed.

[4.] Q. [The White House Official Reporter's note follows: "Completely inaudible to this reporter, but referred to whether the President would urge rigid support of farm prices at 90 percent of parity."]

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

[5.] Q. Mr. President, have you sent to the Senate Office Building a reply to Senator Cain--

THE PRESIDENT. I am not in controversy with Senator Cain.

Q.--on the Wallgren appointment. He charged in a letter supposed to have been sent you today that Governor Wallgren was associating with Communists?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't received any such letter, and if I do receive one which has been given out before its arrival at the White House, I will have no comment on it. 2

2 The letter from Senator Harry P. Cain of Washington was printed, with related documents, in the Congressional Record of March 3 (vol. 95, p. 1770). It expressed Senator Cain's opposition to the appointment of former Governor Mort Wallgren as chairman of the National Security Resources Board.

In the letter the Senator stated, "My opposition to Mr. Wallgren is both firm and honest. In the problem before us I respectfully suggest that the nominee, while perhaps possessing virtues required by some assignments, is singularly lacking in what you require from advisers and assistants whose sole objective is that of keeping our nation free at home and secure against aggression from abroad."

[6.] Q. Mr. President, would you name the special interests to which you made reference several times, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. It would not be difficult to name them, Joe,3 but then I don't think I need to name them for a reporter of the Baltimore Sun. They know the special interests and support them all the time. [Laughter]

3 Joseph H. Short of the Baltimore Sun.

Q. And some others, too.

THE PRESIDENT. Oh yes, I agree with that. It depends altogether on what your viewpoint is. Special interests is one that is against the general public interest. It doesn't make any difference what sector of the population it's in.

[7.]. Q. Mr. President, would you comment on the round-the-world flight by the Air Force plane--

THE PRESIDENT. I think it was a wonderful thing. I am glad to hear about it.4

4On February 27 an Air Force B-50 bomber, the improved version of the wartime B-29, took off from Carswell Field, Fort Worth, Tex. with a crew of 15. It was refueled in flight four times by B-29 "tankers." It returned to its starting point in Texas on March 2 after having flown a total of 23,452 miles. The time of the flight was 94 hours, I minute.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, there were reports that you have given approval to a loan of enough money to Argentina to see that country out of its financial crisis. Is that so?

THE PRESIDENT. It hasn't come up to me. That's the first I've heard of it.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, they are debating on the Hill whether domestic surpluses should be poured into the European recovery program on a fixed quota basis. The pros and cons--some people want so much flour-others don't. Have you any views on it?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on it.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, I would like to clear one thing up. Has Mr. Cain's opposition changed your views as to Mr. Wallgren's fitness?

THE PRESIDENT. Not the slightest. That's purely a local political proposition.

Q. Mr. President, do you think he will be confirmed?

[11.] Q. Mr. President, at the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, you said you might get on a train. Should we pack any time soon? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I would advise you to pack if you are going to Key West next week.

Q. Would you care to comment beyond Key West?

THE PRESIDENT. I will tell you about that later. [Laughter] I will let you know in plenty of time so that you can take enough clothes with you.

[12.] Q. May I return one minute to the B-50 flight--


Q.--would you think that the success of that flight, going around the world without a base, would call for a revaluation of the necessities for bases and carriers, and so forth?

THE PRESIDENT. Not necessarily. You have to have bases to do the filling up.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, is Louis Johnson a 70-group or a 48-group man?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Johnson is in agreement with me.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, a statement was issued yesterday by the leaders of the American Communist Party on the position that they would take in the event of war between the United States and Russia. Have you any statement, or any comment on that statement ?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on a statement made by traitors.

[15.] Q. Are you in negotiation with the British, sir, to transfer to them some B-29's by 1950 or beyond?

THE PRESIDENT. Not that I know of. It hasn't come up to me.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, may we quote that "no comment" on this statement made by traitors?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, you may.

Q. We didn't catch that.

Q. May we have that question, sir?

Q. Could we have the question and the answer?

THE PRESIDENT. The question was whether I had any comment to make on what had been said by the Communist leaders of this country as to what they would do in case of attack by Russia, and I said I had no comment to make on such statements by traitors.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, the former Governor of Puerto Rico, Governor Pinero, was reported to be slated for a job as roving Ambassador to South America. Could you say anything about that?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, what about stopping the filibuster now going on in the Senate? Will it endanger your legislative program?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think it will. I think the filibuster will run its course, and the program will go through as it is anticipated.5

5The filibuster concerned an attempt to change the Senate's Rule XXII relating to closure.

[19.] Q. There has been some speculation on the possibility that the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Nehru, might come to visit you?

THE PRESIDENT. I hadn't heard about it, but he would be perfectly welcome if he chose to pay us a visit.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, these Communists are already under indictment in New York, but is there any additional prosecution planned on the basis of this thing, in view of the constitutional definition of a traitor ?

THE PRESIDENT. I cannot say anything about it. I know of no such program.

Q. Mr. President, would you think that such a statement by those leaders would prejudice their trial in New York?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know whether it would or not. I am not on the jury.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, I didn't understand, did you predict that the cloture would go through ?

THE PRESIDENT. I said that the filibuster would eventually run its course, and the program would go through as anticipated. I have been in many a filibuster myself. I never helped to carry on one, I always tried to break them.

Q. Mr. President, do you favor the two-thirds or constitutional majority?

THE PRESIDENT. I favor the majority rule, not necessarily constitutional.

Q. Mr. President, that would be--in other words, break the filibuster by a simple majority?

THE PRESIDENT. Simple majority, that's right. That's what I always voted for while I was in the Senate, if you want to look up the record.

Q. Mr. President, a rule, as I understand it, is pending now for a two-thirds vote?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right. This is the same rule that applies to a motion, and that now applies to the measure itself; and that is, I think, what was intended when the rule was passed in 1917. But that is now for the Senate itself to decide. I can't tell them what to do.

Q. Would you reduce the two-thirds to a simple majority ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes I would, if I had anything to do with it.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, getting back to the Cabinet, will Secretaries Royall and Sullivan remain?


[23.] Q. Mr. President, what is your reaction to the Hoover Commission report?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it's a very good report, so far as I have been able to follow it, but I haven't had a chance to study it carefully. As soon as I have a chance to study it, I will send up the necessary reorganization plans, as soon as I get the authority to implement as much of it as we can.

Q. We are talking about the same report, the one on national security?

THE PRESIDENT. I am talking about the report as a whole--the whole thing.

Q. I was talking about the one on national security, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will attend to that when we get around to it. When we get ready to answer that question, you will know exactly where I stand.

Q. On that security report, do you favor a single Chief of Staff

THE PRESIDENT. I will let you know about that when I send my information to the

Congress, which will be in a few days.

[24.] Q. Mr. President, I meant to ask about Mr. Symington, too. Will he--

THE PRESIDENT. He is going to stay.

Q. I have got them all.

THE PRESIDENT. All three of them are going to stay.

[25.] Q. Mr. President, have you under reconsideration the release to the public of the evaluation report of the Bikini tests?

THE PRESIDENT. It will not be released. It's locked up in my safe and will stay there. It's a confidential report and should not be released.

[26.] Q. Mr. President, yesterday Congressman Kirwan said he discussed Ohio politics with you, but wouldn't say what they were. What kind of politics did he discuss with you?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, just a general look into the Ohio situation, and he told me what he thought about it, and I was very happy to have him do that. I have no comment to make on it. Ohio went Democratic the last time. [Laughter]

Q. Did you discuss whether Senator Taft would be beaten in 1950, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. We did not discuss that.

[27.] Q. Mr. President, you saw Senator Mead6 yesterday. Is there anything you can say about that?

THE PRESIDENT. Senator Mead came to pay me a courtesy call. We had a very pleasant visit going over old times together.

6 Former Senator James M. Mead of New York.

Q. Didn't go over old jobs together, did you? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. No. We went over old jobs in the past, but no new ones.

Q. Any for him, I mean?

THE PRESIDENT. No new ones. Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and seventy-first news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, 1949.

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/229967

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