Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

October 20, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I have a statement here that I think may answer some of your questions before they are asked. This you can get after the meeting--it will be mimeographed.

[Reading] "In view of certain recent statements about the construction program of the Atomic Energy Commission, I want to clarify the present status of a recent development within the program.

"A decision has been made to expand the facilities of the Atomic Energy Commission. This decision is the result of careful studies directed towards finding means of increasing our production capacity in an orderly fashion. It is a matter which has been under consideration for many months by the Atomic Energy Commission and the Department of Defense, as well as the National Security Council. I have authorized the Atomic Energy Commission to initiate the construction program now with funds available--now available, and I expect to recommend to the Congress early next year a financial plan which will enable the Commission to carry its program through."

I also want to say to you that I don't intend to answer any questions about the controversy in the Defense Department.[Laughter] So go ahead now and ask what you please.

Q. Mr. President, on the atomic program for next year, how much would that involve?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it's a matter that the Budget and the Atomic Energy Commission are working on now. I can't announce it because it will be part of the 1951 budget to begin with, and I may make a special request early in the year for a part of that fund.

Q. I have seen some estimates, sir, up to 500 million?

THE PRESIDENT. No. The highest estimate, I think, has been 300 million, as I have seen it in the papers. [Laughter]

Q. Which is nearer, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't answer that question. I will say when we have arrived at a conclusion. I can't answer it intelligently now.

Q. Was the decision to go ahead with it now influenced in any way by the Russian bomb?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it was not.

Q. Mr. President, will this involve expansion of the Tennessee Valley Authority?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question. You will have to get that information from the Atomic Energy Commission. They are coming up to me with what they propose to do when I allow the full amount. That will allow them to start in with the $30 million which they have in their reserve for it.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, have you made any .plans for seizure of either the coal or steel industries?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't.

Q. Mr. President, have you got any other type of intervention in mind?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't.

Q. If the mediation plans break down, will any such plan be initiated?

THE PRESIDENT. We will go on from there. I am in continuous and close touch with all the things that are taking place.

Q. You said you will go on from there?

THE PRESIDENT. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, will you comment on the disastrous floods--

Q. Louder, please.

Q.--in Guatemala?

THE PRESIDENT. He wants me to comment on the disastrous floods in Guatemala. Of course, it's a horrible thing. I understand by this morning's paper that some 4,000 people have lost their lives as a result of that disaster--floods, landslides, and things of that sort. And we are not only sympathetic but we are more than that, we expect to give them some concrete help to cover it.

Q. Any specific plans under consideration, Mr. President, for such help?

THE PRESIDENT. It will be the customary help which we always give in cases of that kind, principally under the direction of the Red Cross.

Q. Have you any suggestions, Mr. President, for the American citizens in that form of relief?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I know nothing about the situation in detail. We will do the best we can to help our neighbor, as we should.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, have you received any recommendation from the committee you named to investigate the possibility of allocating Marshall plan funds for the purchase of New England textiles for Germany?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, have you received any invitation from Prime Minister Nehru of India to visit that country or--

THE PRESIDENT. Every one of our distinguished guests, when he leaves, always asks me to return the visit.

Q. Will you go, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no plans for that purpose.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to make any recess appointments on the Washington municipal court any time soon--there are three vacancies--

THE PRESIDENT. The bill hasn't been signed yet. I will answer that when the matter becomes a matter of law. I will make a number of recess appointments. Whether they will include the municipal judges or not, I can't say at the present time.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, will you have an appointment soon for the vacancy created by the resignation of Dr. Nourse?


[8.] Q. Can you tell us anything about your vacation plans, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT, Not yet. It is going to take 10 days or 2 weeks to clean up the hundred and one bills that will be on my desk in the next few days, and I can't make any plans until I have my work wound up.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, when will you sign titles 1 and 2 of the National Housing Act? 1

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. You see, there are certain procedures that all these bills have to go through with. They have to be examined by the Attorney General. They have to be examined by the departments which they affect, and they have to be examined by my experts in the White House; then they come to my desk and I analyze them myself. Sometimes I sign them, and sometimes I don't.

1On October 25, 1949, the President approved S.J. Res. 134, the National Housing Act Amendments (63 Stat. 905).

[10.] Q. Mr. President, do you still have hopes that mediation can be successful in the coal and steel strikes?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I have, and I think the sooner they come to a conclusion on that and go back to work, the better it is going to be for the country and for themselves, both employers and employees.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to ask Congress next year to repeal the Taft-Hartley Act?


[12.] Q. Mr. President, apparently there is going to be a tremendous deficit at the end of this fiscal year, as a result of the appropriations by the 81st Congress. Have you any plans to meet that?

THE PRESIDENT. No. The plan that brought that about was the 80th Congress, when it passed that rich man's tax bill without taking into consideration the fixed charges of the Government. I don't believe in deficit financing any more than anybody else does, but the Government has certain obligations which it has to meet, and those fixed charges run nearly $35 billion. Now, what are you going to do about that?

Q. The 80th Congress is over. Isn't there something that can be done?

THE PRESIDENT. I asked this Congress to pass the tax bill, which they couldn't do. Apparently there is nothing you can do but meet the situation as best you can. I can't meet it without the cooperation of the other branches of the Government. There is nobody in the world, I am sure, who believes in economy more than I do. Nobody puts it into effect any more effectively than I do.

Q. Will you ask them for increased taxes next session?

THE PRESIDENT. I am going to ask for a remedy to meet this situation. It might require taxes to do it.

Q. Mr. President, Dr. Nourse said the other day that he was unhappy about deficit financing. Are you unhappy about it?

THE PRESIDENT. Who isn't unhappy about it? Who isn't unhappy about it? But it was brought about through no fault of the President of the United States.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, speaking of cooperation from Congress, do you intend to get on the train again next year?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, we will also cross that bridge when we get to it. We have another session of the 81st Congress, and I hope it will be as productive as the first session has been. In that case it may not be necessary for me to get on a train. I can help them right here.

[14.] Q. Your remedy, Mr. President, may--if your study shows it--call for an increase in taxes?

THE PRESIDENT. Certainly. We have got to find the money to run the Government. Period. That's all there is to it.

Q. May we quote that, sir?


Q. Would the "certainly," Mr. President, refer to a request to Congress for increased taxes?

THE PRESIDENT. I beg your pardon?

Q. Would the "certainly"--your "certainly" refer to the fact that--

THE PRESIDENT. The "certainly" means to--it means to find the money to meet the expenses of the Government. Now you can construe it any way you want to. If you can get it any other way except by taxes, I would like for you to tell me how to do it. Then I will go to work on it.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, do you approve of the farm compromise?

THE PRESIDENT. It has not come up to me yet. I will tell you about that when it comes time for me to sign the bill. I will either sign it or I won't.2

2 On October 31, 1949, the President approved H.R. 5345, the Agricultural Act of 1949 (63 Stat. 1051).

[16.] Q. Mr. President, are you finding it difficult to find a permanent chairman for the National Security Resources Board?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, our difficulty is finding a chairman for the National Security Resources Board. And the reason for it is the fact that the men who are capable of filling the job don't like to come down here and be shot at, like the people who come down here to work for the Government have to take-have to take the beating that they take publicly and privately. And I have had difficulty finding men to come down here. We have men under consideration, and considered several more on the subject. They just don't feel like coming down here and working for less than a third of what they get in industry, and then have to take the beating and the slanderous treatment that they get here in this town.3

3President Truman announced in his press conference of March 30, 1950, that he had asked W. Stuart Symington to accept the position of Chairman of the National Security Resources Board as soon as a replacement could be found to take over his tasks as Secretary of the Air Force.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, have you made the selection as to the men who will head up the European arms program?


Q. Will you tell us who those--

THE PRESIDENT. His name is James Bruce. [Laughter]

Q. That's news!

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. He has been sworn in.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to give a job to Mr. Olds?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I would like to give Mr. Olds a job, if I can find one that is suitable for him.4

4On January 3, 1950, the President appointed Leland Olds to be a member of the President's Water Resources Policy Commission.

Q. You are pretty good at finding jobs for people when you want to, Mr. President. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you. I understand Tony5 wants a job. [More laughter]

Q. Does he want one?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, he said so.

5Ernest B. Vaccaro of the Associated Press.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, have you decided whether you are going to accept the invitation to go to Boston, for that Democratic--

THE PRESIDENT. I have it under consideration. I haven't come to any decision as yet. I hope I will be able to go.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and third news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, October 20, 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/230214

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