Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

May 18, 1950

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

I understand that these photographers are going to be here about 3 minutes and then they will leave. They just want to see what this place looks like.

[1.] I have got a statement I would like to read to you before we start on the question period.

"Mr. Schuman's1 proposal"--this is mimeographed and will be ready for distribution when you go out--"for the pooling of the French and German steel and coal industries is an act of constructive statesmanship. We welcome it. This demonstration of French leadership in the solution of the problems of Europe is in the great French tradition. The wholehearted reception of this proposal in Germany is likewise encouraging.

1 Robert Schuman, French Minister of Foreign Affairs.

"This proposal provides the basis for establishing an entirely new relationship between France and Germany, and opens a new outlook for Europe. There will be many difficult problems to solve in developing this far-reaching plan. I am confident, however, that the kind of imaginative thinking that went into the proposal can work out the details in ways that will benefit not only the countries directly concerned, including those who work in these industries and those who use their products, but also the whole free world.

"We are gratified at the emphasis the proposal places upon equal access to coal and steel products to all Western European countries, and upon the need for reductions in cost, through higher productivity, so that consumers can benefit through lower prices and workers through higher wages. We are also gratified to note, while the proposal protects the coal and steel industries against the shocks of readjustment during the transitional period, it does leave the industry open to receive, once the transition is completed, the full benefits of the competitive process.

That will be ready for your use as soon as we get through here.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, you have talked to us before on the subject, but I wonder if you could tell us what you make now of the continuing trouble that the reorganization plans 2 are having? They have disapproved four in recent days.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it's a legislative--

2 See Items 53-76, and 112-115.

Q. Mr. President, we can't hear back here.

THE PRESIDENT. All right, we'll yell a little louder.

It's a legislative prerogative to vote against every tax bill and to vote for every appropriation. It is also a legislative prerogative to continually talk about efficiency and economy, but to be very careful that efficiency and economy does not in any way get rid of any people in whom they are personally interested, or that no appropriation is cut off that in any way affects the local situation. I think that is all that is the matter with it.

I think you will remember that these reorganization authorizations have been in existence I think nearly ever since I came to the Senate. And President Roosevelt had a bill that was almost unworkable. I inherited one that had 12 exceptions in it. And when we appointed the bipartisan commission to go into the thing in detail, they issued a five-volume report like that--[indicating]. I am taking that report for what it means, and I am sending down reorganization plans, and shall continue to send them down, as long as that authorization bill is in effect. It is the privilege of the Congress to act on them in any way they see fit.

Q. Mr. President, will you comment on Senator McClellan's charge that you are using those reorganization proposals as an excuse for a power grab--

THE PRESIDENT. The only comment I can make is that it just isn't true.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, what do you think of the arguments of some Senators that the FEPC bill is Communist in origin?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think I have made myself perfectly clear on the FEPC bill, and I don't think that deserves any comment.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, you said that your basic program has been blocked in Congress by various oddly assorted groups, and that you hoped by next January that some of the worst obstructionists would be removed from the Congress. Did you mean to distinguish between parties--between Democratic and Republican obstructionists in that speech?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I didn't.

Q. Could you tell us some of the obstructionists you mean?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I cannot. You know them as well as I do. All you have got to do is go down there and read the record.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, the Export-Import Bank yesterday announced a credit of $125 million to a consortium of Argentine banks. Do you wish to comment any further about that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have no comment on it. I think it is a good loan.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, do I understand you to mean that everybody who votes against your proposed program is an obstructionist and should be defeated?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh no--you don't put any meaning like that on it. An obstructionist is a man who is against everything that is for the welfare of the people. He doesn't have to be--he is not an obstructionist if he has some pet thing that he doesn't like. I don't expect all the Members of the Congress ever to go along completely on what I am asking them to do. That is what the Congress is for. I want a Congress--an absolutely independent Congress, but people who are against everything certainly do not belong in this age.

Q. You mean it's a matter of degree?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it's a matter of degree entirely.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, this morning I received a premium notice from one of America's largest mutual life insurance companies, and enclosed was what was purported to be a personal letter from the president--no doubt addressed to a couple of million policyholders--complaining of deficits and governmental spending, and urging that I immediately protest to my Congressman. I also noted, with pleasure, that during the past year, and no doubt due to most excellent management, the company had piled up such a huge surplus that my dividends for the year cut down my premium by twothirds! Have you any comment, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, nobody feels any stronger than I do about deficit financing of any sort; and if you will read my three veto messages to the 80th Congress on that inane tax bill that they passed, you will find the reason for the deficit. The deficit is not alarming. It will be worked out, and we will eventually balance the budget. What we are trying to do now is to prevent another war.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, the Ambassador to Chile, Mr. Bowers, was in to see you this morning, and he said that he urged you to visit Chile in November and visit the steel plant down there. Could you tell us if you will make that trip, or whether you think you can go or not?

THE PRESIDENT. I told the Ambassador that I of course would like to come to Chile. I always have wanted to come to Chile, but I can make no definite plans now that far in advance on a trip of that sort.

[9.] Q. Speaking of tax bills, what do you think of the one they are working up for you in the House? Do you have any comment on the part that concerns capital gains?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't comment on bills when they are in the course of preparation. The only time I can comment intelligently is after the bill gets to me, after having passed the House and the Senate.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, is your decision to close the Birmingham Veterans Hospital at Van Nuys, Calif., final?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't understand the question.

Q. Is your decision to close the Birmingham Veterans Hospital final?

THE PRESIDENT. The decision was made in conjunction with the Veterans Administration, and it is final.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, as of last Sunday, the Washington Post reported that you had not been asked a single question on McCarthy on your trip. Do you have an explanation for that?

THE PRESIDENT. Not a single one. And I have no explanation. I think it explains itself.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, Secretary Johnson is going to Japan, and the story is that he is going to investigate the prospect of a peace treaty. Is that within his province?

THE PRESIDENT. Secretary Johnson is going to the Far East on the same sort of military errand that he went to Belgium on. The peace treaty will be negotiated in the regular manner by the Secretary of State when the time is propitious for that purpose, and I hope that won't be too far off.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, on your trip West, did you find people as responsive in 1950 as they were in 1948, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, yes. If you will consult these gentlemen right around here that went with me, they can tell you all about it. [Laughter]

[14.] Q. Mr. President, have you made a decision on the application of the Czech delegate to the United Nations for asylum in this country ?

THE PRESIDENT. The matter has been referred to the State Department.

[15.] Q. I didn't understand that McCarthy question--what was that question?

THE PRESIDENT. Platform crowds--platform crowds on the trip, that is what was referred to.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, pardon me for asking the same sort of question, but there is some confusion on that Argentine question. Do you make some distinction between a credit and a loan? I merely wanted to ask if you use the word "loan" advisedly or whether you merely referred to the approval of a credit?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't see any difference between a credit and a loan. The bank usually gives me the power to draw a certain amount of money on a check. Whether it is signed as a note or whether they accept my check on an overdraft, I think that is a loan just the same.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, I wrote one of my hands out on the trip. When you said that--speaking of the reorganization bills-you said it is a legislative prerogative to vote against every--

THE PRESIDENT. To vote against tax bills and to vote for appropriations. Don't you know that is the way a Congressman gets reelected? Never vote for a tax bill and never vote against an appropriation.

[18.] Q. Also, I don't know whether you heard about Senator Brewster, who announced today that John W. Hanes--whom he called an outstanding Democrat--had taken up or paid the check of Mr. Victor Johnston on the Chicago trip.3 I wonder if you had any comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have no comment on that. Senator Brewster ought to know. He is on the Republican committee that handles those things.

3 Senator Owen Brewster of Maine, chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, quoted the poem that the President had recited during his address at Chicago (Item 134) and added that the Committee had sent an observer, Victor A. Johnston, a Committee employee, to follow the President during his trip through the West. Senator Brewster added that the cost of the plane which carried Mr. Johnston had been met by John W. Hanes, vice chairman of the Republican National Finance Committee and Under Secretary of the Treasury during the Roosevelt administration. (See Congressional Record, vol. 96, p. 7197.)

Q. He announced it. I just wanted your reaction on his--

THE PRESIDENT. I say he ought to know. He is on that committee.

Q. Mr. President, do you think that Mr. Hanes got his money's worth?

THE PRESIDENT. Read Tony Leviero's letter to Johnston to take back to his people, I think that answers it. 4

4 An article by Anthony H. Leviero, which appeared in the May 14 edition of the New York Times, was written in the form of an imaginary letter from Mr. Johnston and his traveling companion, Philip Willkie, to his Republican superiors in Washington.

The "letter" stated that the President was drawing large and apparently friendly crowds at the various whistlestops he visited and that what sounded like socialism in Washington had a different meaning for the people of the communities who felt they had received benefits in the form of public power and similar enterprises.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, there are reports this morning from Paris that Great Britain has agreed to join in the European pact. Do you have any further information on it, or comment?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't, and I have no information on it.

[20.] Q. Do you have any comment on the defeat of the Grundy forces in Pennsylvania?5

THE PRESIDENT. I imagine that Mr. Duff is very happy. [Laughter]

5 In the Pennsylvania Republican primary election held on May 16, Governor James H. Duff won the Republican nomination for Senator by defeating Representative John C. Kunkel. Representative Kunkel was allied with the political forces of former Senator Joseph R. Grundy.

[21.] Q. Mr. President, how do you reconcile Dr. Keyserling' sending a committee to New England to study unemployment there with the complaints of New England Congressmen that lack of tariff protection and foreign competition is ruining the New England industries?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think that is what is ruining New England at all. And when Keyserling gets through, I will tell you what it is.6

6On May 15 the White House announced that Dr. Leon H. Keyserling, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, had requested seven New England economists to serve as a committee of experts to study the causes of unemployment in certain New England cities. The study resulted in a report entitled "The New England Economy: A Report to the President Transmitting a Study Initiated by the Council of Economic Advisers and Prepared by Its Committee on the New England Economy" (Government Printing Office, 205 pp., 1951).

Q. Do you know now?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't, but I will tell you when I find out.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, to bring this down to a local level, at the time that the District of Columbia decided to celebrate its 150th birthday a few months back, you explained you were in favor of the idea of a freedom fair.

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. As it has run into a kind of "rhubarb" now--being tossed back and forth--the status of the freedom fair is somewhat in doubt. Would you like to comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I was informed by Carter Barron that a subcommittee on the celebration--sesquicentennial committee, I think they call it--of which I am the honorary chairman--had recommended that it be abandoned. Carter expressed the idea that it probably would be abandoned, for the simple reason that the people of the District of Columbia seem not to be very much interested in it; and I am sorry to report that that is a fact.

The Congress has been violently opposed to it--had an awful time getting the appropriation, even to start the celebration for the sesquicentennial. The local people here seem not to be interested in it at all, and it wouldn't surprise me if that thing--that fair is not abandoned.7

7 See Item 77.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, I wonder if you plan to help Senator Olin Johnston of South Carolina get reelected this year?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not dabbling in South Carolina politics right now.

[24.] Q. Mr. President, you said that you imagined that Mr. Duff is very happy about the defeat of the Grundy forces. I wonder if you are very happy about it?

THE PRESIDENT. Let's wait until November, and I will tell you whether I am happy or not. [Laughter]

Q. As late as November, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it will take until after the first Tuesday in November before I can tell you. I am for the Democrats, you understand. [More laughter]

[25.] Q. Mr. President, do you care to comment on Senator Taft's charge that your administration contains political immorality?

THE PRESIDENT. No. No, I don't care to comment, thank you. The Tribune will comment on that all that is necessary. [Laughter]

[26.] Q. Mr. President, the Chicago Tribune the other day said that the goodneighbor policy was aimed at robbing South American states. At the same time, almost, a former collaborator of former Secretary Byrnes in Havana--the Uruguayan Senator Larreta8 said that the inter-American system at present under the Bogota Charter encourages dictatorship. Would you care to comment on both of those statements?

THE PRESIDENT. No comment, because I don't think there is anything to either one of them.

8Eduardo Rodriguez Larreta.

[27.] Q. Mr. President, you listened to Herbert Hoover's speech on the radio recently. I wonder if you had listened to Taft's?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I didn't listen to Taft. I went to sleep that night. I had been up quite a bit, you know, for the week previously. I didn't listen to the speech, and I haven't read it, I am sorry to say.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and twentyfifth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 4 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, 1950. Motion pictures and still photographs were taken at this press conference.

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/230630

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