Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

November 17, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. I am ready for questions.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, are you going to give John L. Lewis a chance to accept a factfinding board before invoking Taft-Hartley?

THE PRESIDENT. The emergency for Taft-Hartley has not arrived. When we get to that bridge we will cross it.

Q. You said at the last press conference you wouldn't hesitate to use Taft-Hartley.

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct. When it's time to use it, I will not hesitate to use it.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, the Wall Street journal yesterday had a story that the administration had abandoned its hope of budget balancing, and that there will be no new taxes proposed for next year?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, the Wall Street Journal must have been standing behind the curtain somewhere that I know nothing about. No such arrangement has been arrived at.

Q. They didn't hear accurately?

THE PRESIDENT. No sir, they did not head accurately. They hardly ever do. [Laughter]

[3.] Q. Mr. President, what do you think of the Communist imprisonment of our consul, Angus Ward?

THE PRESIDENT. I think it's an outrage.

Q. Are you doing anything to--

THE PRESIDENT. The Secretary of State answered every question in connection with that, that you can possibly ask him, so I would advise you to read his press conference for yesterday.1 He and I are in complete agreement.

1According to the New York Times, Secretary Acheson informed reporters at his press conference on November 16 that the United States would not even consider the possibility of recognizing the Chinese Communists until they released the U.S. officials.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, the Atomic Energy Commission scared Washingtonians this morning with their report that advises the dispersal of Government out of Washington. Have you any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I have no comment on that--well, I will make one comment on it--it's old stuff. Mr. Steelman answered that in full with a statement in full about an hour and a half ago--or 2 hours, I think. If you will read the statement of Dr. Steelman, you will find your answer right there.

Q. Well, sir, in that statement I believe he said he was forwarding it to the Governors and here to the District Commissioners?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. That situation has been under consideration ever since I became chairman of the committee on the--in the Senate. It is absolutely nothing new whatever.

Q. Does that mean it is essentially a local problem?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it is essentially a problem of civilian defense. It is a part of the National Security Resources Board's business to look into it, and Dr. Steelman has been acting as the chairman of that board; and if you will read the statement I think you will find it thoroughly and completely covers all the questions you want to ask.

[5.] Q. Will you request a tax increase?

THE PRESIDENT. I will have all that information in the Message on the State of the Union, or the Economic Message when it goes to the Congress. I don't care to discuss it now.

Q. Mr. President--well, Mr. President, just following through on that thought, do you know of any other way to meet the deficit without increasing--

THE PRESIDENT. I think I have said that about 19 times since I have been.--

Q. I just wanted to get it on the record.

THE PRESIDENT. All right. You have it.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to act in the coal case short of Taft-Hartley emergency as you did in the steel case?


[7.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Thomas's remarks on Sweden seem to have caused a little commotion over there.2 Have you any comment.

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment. He is giving the facts.

2According to newspaper reports Senator Elmer Thomas of Oklahoma became angry with a country, reported to be Sweden, when that country ignored his Armed Forces Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee which was touring European countries to investigate conditions in countries aided by the United States.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, can you make any comments on the Philippine elections? President Quirino, according to the latest reports, has a majority of 400,000 votes--

THE PRESIDENT. We have no official report on the outcome of that election. Whenever we are furnished with the official report on the election, I shall make a comment.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, is it your feeling that to begin a coal strike again on December 1st would create a national emergency?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that question on December the 1st.

Q. Mr. President, do you intend to appoint a coal factfinding board?

THE PRESIDENT. I will cross that river when I come to it.

Q. Well now, Mr. President, we are a little confused. I need clarification. You said you didn't plan any action short of Taft-Hartley--

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct. The Taft-Hartley provides for factfinding.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, the term of NLRB member J. Copeland Gray expires, I think, December 16th. He is generally regarded as being the most Taft-Hartley minded man on the board. Do you have any plans for either replacing or reappointing Mr. Gray?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment on that at the present time.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, I need some clarification--

THE PRESIDENT. Good!--go ahead.

Q. We are all bewildered, sir.

Q.--regarding the Taft-Hartley law. Do we--is it proper to assume from your answer that you are planning no action short of the Taft-Hartley--

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q.--or that you won't act without Taft-Hartley law, or don't act?

THE PRESIDENT. Whenever the time comes that it is necessary I will use the Taft-Hartley law, and all the laws on the books. That is my business--to enforce the law, and that is what I intend to do.

Q. In other words, it wouldn't be anything like in steel, in this case?


Q. Mr. President, do you still feel that December 1st will be that date?

THE PRESIDENT. I Can't answer that question. I have to find an emergency before I take action.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, would you comment on a proposal of Governor Pastore of Rhode Island that the Federal Government either take over the unemployment compensation system entirely or adopt some kind of Federal reinsurance scheme to help States where the jobless funds are going broke?

THE PRESIDENT. That has been a matter for argument for a long, long time. I have no comment on it.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, Winston Churchill said today that the United States and Great Britain should grant de facto recognition to the Chinese Communist regime. How do you feel about that?

THE PRESIDENT. He is perfectly entitled to that opinion. I have no comment on it.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, are you going to name Governor Knous of Colorado for a Federal judgeship?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't made up my mind who is going to get the job. When I do, I will announce it right here and you will know all about it.

Q. What about Glenn?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no announcements to make. When I get ready to do so, I will make them from this desk right here.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, there have been persistent reports that American policy in Western Germany now contemplates the creation of a small German army. Would you comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. That is a statement that was made out of the whole cloth by a newspaperman in Paris, and there isn't a word of truth in it.

Q. That means we do not, sir, and we are against it?

THE PRESIDENT. There isn't a word of truth in that rumor that was started in Paris. I think Dean Acheson covered it thoroughly yesterday in his press conference.3

3As reported in the press, Secretary Acheson denied that the three foreign ministers at their recent meeting in Paris had discussed or even considered the possibility of creating a small army in Germany. The Secretary further stated that he had denied this report previously and he emphasized the fact that the State Department had given no consideration to such a prospect.

Q. Well, that is why we asked you, sir. We had doubts about it, after he did get through with it.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't see why you did. I read what he had to say and it was perfectly clear.

Q. Is it correct, sir, to infer from that that American policy is against the creation of an army--

THE PRESIDENT. I am making no American policy from this desk.

Q. I didn't get your reply, sir?

Q. I didn't understand it?

THE PRESIDENT. I am making no American policy with respect to Germany from this desk. That is a matter that has to be worked out between the powers that are interested.

Q. Mr. President, is Mr. McCloy going to remain in Germany?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, sure. That is what I sent him there for.

Q. Mr. President, if you found out that some of our officers in Germany have been discussing the formation of a proposed army with representatives of the German Government in Bonn, would you discipline those officers?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not in close contact with the situation in Germany itself. That is what I have Mr. McCloy over there for.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, this morning Mr. Crosser came in to talk with you, and he said he talked about the Mexican oil situation?

THE PRESIDENT. It is still under consideration, as I told Congressman Crosser.

Q. Still under consideration?


[17.] Q. Mr. President, can you say anything about the range of your discussion with Mr. Acheson this morning on Far East policy?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I made a statement just--Charlie Ross released a statement on it which covered the ground.4

4The release stated that a Regional Conference of the Chiefs of the United States Missions in Eastern Asia and the Far East would be held at Bangkok, Thailand, the end of January. In connection with preparations for the conference, the release added, the President held a meeting at the White House earlier in the day to discuss questions relating to United States policy in the area. Those present, in addition to the President, were Secretary of State Dean Acheson, Under Secretary of State James E. Webb, Assistant Secretary of State W. Walton Butterworth, Ambassadors Philip C. Jessup and J. Leighton Smart, and State Department Consultants Raymond B. Fosdick and Everett C. Case.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, do you care to comment on your visit with Mr. Malone of California?

THE PRESIDENT. Just a pleasant, friendly visit. He is a friend of mine. When he comes to Washington he comes in to see me, and talks about the state of the Union, and other things.

Q. Did you talk about the governorship campaign?

THE PRESIDENT. I imagine he did. [Laughter]

[19.] Q. Mr. President, I want to ask a very simple one, for our work prospects next week. Do you plan a press conference next week? Thanksgiving Day falls on Thursday--I didn't know--

THE PRESIDENT. I won't have a press conference on Thursday. [Laughter]

Q. Will you have one next week?

THE PRESIDENT. If we decide to have one, it will probably be on Friday.

[20.] Q. Would you care to comment, Mr. President, on the candidacy of James Roosevelt for Governor?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no comment. That is a primary contest, and the President never mixes in a primary contest; but when the Democrats get ready to operate against the Republicans, then I will take a hand if it is necessary.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, have you a new chairman for your Council of Economic Advisers?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Douglas of Illinois has a plan for cutting about 40 billion off the 1951 fiscal year budget?

THE PRESIDENT. I wonder why he didn't put that plan into effect in the Congress that has just adjourned? They were going to cut ever so much off that budget, and they came up here with a bigger one than I asked them for.

When I make the 1951 budget it will be just as hard to do anything about it as it was with the 1950 budget.

Q. Who made that suggestion, Mr. President? I didn't catch it.

THE PRESIDENT. Senator Douglas of Illinois. He has made it time and again before. It's easy enough to stand outside and say what ought to be done about the budget, but when you try to make it up, it's a different story.

Q. Mr. President, what do you mean by it is going to be hard to do anything about?

THE PRESIDENT. It is going to be a tight budget, just like the 1950 budget was. It is going to be an honest budget, because I know how to make it.

Q. Mr. President, will it be smaller or larger?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question.

Q. Will there be anything--

THE PRESIDENT. That will appear in the Budget Message.

Q. Mr. President, will there be anything in it on moving the Government out of Washington?

THE PRESIDENT. No. [Laughter]

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and sixth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, November 17, 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/229775

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