The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I want to make a statement in connection with the fact finding boards, and this will be available in mimeographed form when you go out.
[Reading] "In appointing a fact finding board in an industrial dispute where one of the questions at issue is wages, it is essential to a fulfillment of its duty that the board have the authority, whenever it deems it necessary, to examine the books of the employer. That authority is essential to enable the board to determine the ability of the employer to pay an increase in wages where such ability is in question. Ability to pay is always one of the facts relevant to the issue of an increase in wages.
"This does not mean that the Government or its fact finding board is going to endeavor to fix a rate of return for the employer. It does mean, however, that since wages are paid out of earnings, the question of earnings is relevant.
"The detailed information, obtained from the books of an employer should not be made public. Such a disclosure would place the employer at a disadvantage with respect to his competitors. But the fact finding board should unquestionably have the right to examine the employer's books where it deems it necessary in order to make up its own mind as to whether a demand for an increase is justified, and to make public all findings based on such information, that it deems relevant to the controversy.
"That is one of the things I meant when I stated in my message of December 3, 1945, to Congress, and I quote:
"'The Board should be . . . directed to make a thorough investigation of all the facts which it deems relevant in the controversy.'
"This is nothing new. There are many instances where the books of corporations are opened for inspection to representatives of the State and Federal Governments and where the information so obtained is used solely by such officials to carry out their functions.
"To confer the right to examine books is one of the main purposes of granting subpoena power to the fact finding boards. I trust that the Congress, which is the only body authorized to grant such power, will do so quickly.
"In view of the public interest involved, it would be highly unfortunate if any party to a dispute should refuse to cooperate with a fact finding board."
[2.] Now, I am going to have for release for you the letter which I sent today--identical letters to Senator Wagner and Representative Carter Manasco, in regard to the full employment bill, which is in conference--those two gentlemen are the Chairmen of the House and Senate conferees--calling attention to the fact that the Senate bill more nearly complies with the message which was sent to the Congress, and expressing the hope that the Senate bill will be adopted by the conferees. The release will speak for itself. 1
1 See Item 222.
I also want to say while--in that same connection, that I am highly appreciative of the sincere efforts that a large number of Congressmen and Senators put forth in an endeavor to get a full employment bill on the books.
Now then, I am ready for questions.
[3.] Q. Mr. President, oftentimes when you talk about opening up the books of employers, there is a counterproposal made that the unions' books should be opened up. Is there anything you could tell us as to your views on that?
THE PRESIDENT. I think that power applies to everything that is relevant with regard to wages and prices.
[4.] Q. Mr. President, when would you send the message to Congress on the British loan?
THE PRESIDENT. As soon as the State Department has the thing in shape to send down. I told the people who are interested in that, that the .message would not go down until after the holidays.
[5'] Q. Mr. President, some people in the Navy seem to think that part of the unification message was intended to muzzle naval officers, and to stop further discussion by them of the whole question of unification. Was that your intention?
THE PRESIDENT. No such intention in view. There has never been any attempt to muzzle anybody. I want everybody to express his honest opinion on the subject, and I want to get the best results that are possible. In order to do that, I want the opinions of everybody. And nobody has been muzzled.
It will be necessary now, though, for all people who are in the services, to make a statement that they are expressing their personal views and not the views of the administration. I have expressed those views myself.
[6.] Q. Mr. President, have you decided what action you are going to have on the congressional bill returning the employment services to the States?
THE PRESIDENT. I haven't seen that bill as yet. I will very forcibly express my opinion whenever I have seen the bill and had a chance to read it.
[7.] Q. Mr. President, a broadcaster out of Japan today made the assertion that General MacArthur has threatened to resign--is upset about the possibility that Russia might have a part in the occupation of Japan. Could you say anything to bring that back into proper perspective?
THE PRESIDENT. I know nothing about it.
Q. About such a statement?
THE PRESIDENT. About any such statement, and I don't think General MacArthur has made any such statement. I know he has made no such statement to either me or the Secretary of War.
[8.] Q. Mr. President, speaking of resignations, do you expect Secretary Forrestal to resign?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, Secretary Forrestal has been trying to resign ever since I have been here, but I hope he won't resign at a very early date.
[9.] Q. Mr. President, do you care to say what you discussed with Mr. Pelley and Mr. Fort of the Railroad Association?
THE PRESIDENT. They were discussing the Bulwinkle bill.
[10.] Q. Mr. President, there is a report from London that the British Navy rather than the American Navy broke the Japanese code, and the Navy says that anything on that report would have to come from the White House rather than from the Navy Department. Do you have any comment?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't know anything about it.
[11.] Q. Mr. President, have you yet evolved any plan of civil administration of the American Zone in Germany?
THE PRESIDENT. It is under discussion. No plan has been evolved as yet.
Q. No date set as yet?
THE PRESIDENT. No date set. We hope it will be before the 30th of June, however.
[12.] Q. Mr. President, are we to take your further statement about labor unions at the beginning, that you would--you think labor unions should open their books--
THE PRESIDENT. Why certainly--why certainly. It will be a fact finding board to arrive at its opinion for anything that they deem relevant in the controversy.
[13.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to comment on the progress of the Moscow conference of foreign ministers?
THE PRESIDENT. There is no comment.
[14.] Q. Mr. President, in your reference to the rights of subpoena, on what would that authority or that right be based?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, on the right to get the information that is necessary to settle the controversy. Congress can delegate that power to anybody.
Q. Union books, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT. Anything.
Q. There has been talk that the operators--manufacturers--General Motors might walk out of the fact finding board, if the pressure were put on for its books at that time, and we couldn't expect anything further until congressional action?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I hope they won't take that attitude, because that won't reflect to their credit.
[15.] Q. Mr. President, has Dr. Tugwell asked to be relieved as Governor of Puerto Rico?
THE PRESIDENT. One of the first things I received was the resignation of Dr. Tugwell. I asked him to stay.
Q. Did he renew his request to resign when he was in here?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes, he did.
Q. And you asked him to stay?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I still want him to stay.
Q. Mr. President,--
THE PRESIDENT. Let me answer this lady's question.
[16.] Q. Going back to the full employment bill, would you want the House machinery as established in the House bill merged with the Senate bill at all?
THE PRESIDENT. I think the Senate version is the best version of the full employment bill. That is what I wanted to get over.
[17.] Q. Mr. President, Mr. Tugwell is going to stay?
THE PRESIDENT. For a while, yes.
Q. How long is "a while," Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't state that. I don't know.
[18.] Q. Mr. President, if--I may have misunderstood the gentleman, but is there any relation between wages and the books of a union, which are merely books of dues collected and expenses--
THE PRESIDENT. Not that I know of. And if they were relevant to investigating, the subpoena power would be there.
[19.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to say anything on the policy of this Government towards Spain and the Franco government?
THE PRESIDENT. It has been expressed at Potsdam. If you will read the Potsdam Declaration, you will find it.
[20.] Q. Mr. President, can you say anything about your discussion with General Gregory this morning?
THE PRESIDENT. No. No comment on that.
[21.] Q. Mr. President, may I ask a question? Do you consider that this present fact finding board in the General Motors case has authority to--they don't have any legislative authority?
THE PRESIDENT. The only authority they have is under the War Powers Act. We have got all the power existing under the War Powers Act.
Q. Mr. President, a spokesman for General Motors said positively today that he would retire the corporation--the corporation would leave the fact finding board. What is the next step under those circumstances?
THE PRESIDENT. I am very sorry to hear that. I hope he will reconsider that and not do it.
[22.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any intentions, or any plans, of going to London at any time during the United Nations Assembly meeting?
THE PRESIDENT. No.
[23.] Q. Mr. President, under the Powers Act--under the War Powers Act, does the panel have power to subpoena books or would that be purely voluntary?
THE PRESIDENT. That would be purely voluntary. They have not got the power, and nobody can give that power but the Congress.
[24.] Q. Another point, going back to the full employment bill. Would you consider the House version of the full employment bill acceptable?
THE PRESIDENT. I Would not.
Q. Well, thank you, Mr. President, and a Merry Christmas!
THE PRESIDENT. Thank you.
Voices: Merry Christmas!
THE PRESIDENT. Merry Christmas to all of you. I hope you have a grand Christmas, all of you.
Note: President Truman's fortieth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, December 20, 1945.
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/229687