Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

January 13, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] Gentlemen, I have no special announcements to make, except that I was in the White House and the Blair House since 6:30 last night1--[laughter]-and if you have any questions, I will be glad to try to answer them.

1President Truman flew to Pinehurst, N.C., on January 12 to visit Secretary of State George C. Marshall who was convalescing from an operation. The trip had been kept confidential and came as a surprise to both Secretary Marshall and members of the press.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, what can you tell us about your interview today with Sir Oliver Franks? 2

THE PRESIDENT. I can tell you nothing.

2 Sir Oliver Shewell Franks, British Ambassador to the United States.

Q. Thank you. [Laughter]

[3.] Q. There have been indications from abroad of a possible Soviet peace offensive. Have there been any new developments that would lead to a meeting between yourself and Stalin?

THE PRESIDENT. None that I know of.

Q. Is your position the same on that, Mr. President, that you will be glad to see Mr. Stalin any time he comes to Washington?


[4.] Q. Mr. President, do you have under consideration the appointment of any women to high positions in Government?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh yes, lots of them under consideration. [Laughter]

Q. Lots of women, sir?


Q. To the Cabinet, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Not necessarily.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, can Mr. Forrestal's remarks be taken to mean that he is now a permanent member of your Cabinet?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Forrestal's remarks say just what they mean. I think he made it perfectly plain.3

3 According to reports in the press, on January 11 Secretary of Defense James Forrestal stated, after an interview with the President, that he expected to remain in the Cabinet.

Q. We didn't hear that, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Forrestal's remarks were perfectly plain, and I think they mean what he said.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, in your messages to the Congress, you suggest raising the taxes in the middle and upper income brackets.

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. What do you consider the middle and upper brackets?

THE PRESIDENT. The Treasury considers the middle and upper brackets begin about $6,000 a year, from there up to about $25,000 or $30,000 a year. It's a matter of point of view. If you are getting $6,000 a year, you probably would consider $10,000 the--[Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, the point that brings this up is that President Roosevelt, I believe, held the view that incomes ought to level off about $25,000 a year, and that ought to be about the maximum take-home pay. Is that your view also?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no set view on the subject. I think if a man has got brains enough to know enough about the tax laws of the United States to make more than $25,000 a year, he is probably entitled to make it.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, with regard to doing something about the Taft-Hartley law, would you care to say whether you are a "one package" man, or a "two package" man? 4 [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I don't want to get into any controversy between committees of the House and the Senate. I tried to make my position perfectly clear in the Message on the State of the Union.

4 This refers to different approaches to the problem of repealing the Taft-Hartley Act and substituting an amended Wagner Act in its place. Under the one-package plan, the repeal and the substitution of an amended Wagner Act would be accomplished by a single bill. Under the two-package plan, the Wagner Act would be substituted for the Taft-Hartley Act by one bill, and amendments to the Wagner Act would be the subject of a separate bill.

Q. Mr. President, Congressman Lesinski, the new House Chairman--

THE PRESIDENT. Lesinski,5 yes.

5 Representative John Lesinski of Michigan, Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.

Q.--was in here the other day


Q.--and reported that you approved his--tentatively or practically approved his one package--

THE PRESIDENT. I prefer to let the House and the Senate settle their differences without my interference. I don't like for them to interfere in my business. And they are the legislative branch of the Government.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, although you have said that you do not care to discuss the Palestine situation, some London newspapers have printed the story that the five airplanes shot down were conducting reconnaissance at the request of the United States Government?

THE PRESIDENT, It isn't true.

Q. It isn't true?

THE PRESIDENT. It isn't true. Our position on the Palestine situation was stated on November 20th by Mr. Jessup before the Assembly in Paris.6 That is as clear a statement as it could possibly be. That is as far as it is necessary to go, if you will read that statement by Mr. Jessup before the Assembly on November 20th.

6The statement on Palestine made in the Political and Security Committee of the United Nations General Assembly by Philip C. Jessup, United States delegate to the General Assembly, is published in the Department of State Bulletin (vol. 19, p. 657).

Q. Mr. President, may we assume that that is what you told the Ambassador of Great Britain this morning?

THE PRESIDENT. You can assume anything you like. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President--

Q. Mr. President, aside from that--

THE PRESIDENT. Wait a minute--let this young man go ahead.

Q.--I was just going to ask whether you would give us some guidance as to whether we would be wise to assume that? [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, some London newspaper dispatches today have said that the United States has given assurance to Britain that we will back with military action any action that they deem necessary in the Middle East. Could you comment on that?

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

Q. Mr. President, there have been reports this afternoon that Sir Oliver Franks asked you to bring pressure to bear upon the State of Israel, with a view to bringing about Middle East peace?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no statement to make on the conversation with the British Ambassador. I want you to read the statement before the United Nations Assembly as to our position on Palestine, and it will answer every question you have asked me.

Q. Mr. President, is that the November 20th statement that you refer to, on Jessup?


Q. Well, did you make that suggestion when the gentleman asked you about the reconnaissance planes? Did that--

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, no--oh, no. The reconnaissance planes--there wasn't a word of truth in that at all.

Q. You immediately followed it by saying Jessup's statement covered everything.

THE PRESIDENT. Jessup's statement covers everything in connection with our statement on the situation in the Near East, and that is being handled by a United Nations Commission now, of which we are a member. That is the reason I am not commenting on these questions.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, would you comment on the reports that Rabbi Samuel Thurman would be named--nominated as Ambassador to Israel?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't heard about it.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, there was also a report from abroad.--

THE PRESIDENT. What was it you wanted to ask?

Q. Mr. President--

THE PRESIDENT. Wait!--they're coming too fast for me.

Q. There was also a report from abroad that relations between Britain and this country are strained. Is that--

THE PRESIDENT. They are not. What was your question?

[11.] Q. Mr. President, some of the Congressmen--perhaps you would call them logrollers--are distressed at the cutbacks in the veterans hospitals. Was this cutback based on Dr. Magnuson's 7 recommendations, or the Hoover Commission's report?

THE PRESIDENT. The cutback was based on the recommendations of the Veterans Administration.

7Dr. Paul B. Magnuson, Chief Medical Director, Department of Medicine and Surgery, Veterans Administration.

Q. Mr. President, would you consider reconsidering any of those cancellations?

THE PRESIDENT. I think that the Veterans Administration survey was accurate and correct, and I shall stand by that recommendation of the Veterans Administration.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, the Atomic Energy Commission is reported to have approved Dr. Graham for atomic security over the objections of the Security Board headed by Owen Roberts. Would you comment?

THE PRESIDENT. Do you know for sure that there were objections to Dr. Frank Graham? I have the utmost confidence in Dr. Frank Graham. I think the Atomic Energy Commission also concurs; and I think it's a great mistake that anybody objects to his being approved. At least, I hope it's a mistake, because they would be wrong.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, have you issued any instructions to your Armed Forces with respect to discussing the 70-group air force before congressional committees?

THE PRESIDENT. The budget, as it was sent to the Congress, ought to be supported by all the sections of the defense departments.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us any more about your conversations with Secretary Marshall yesterday?

THE PRESIDENT. The--Secretary Marshall and I had a very, very pleasant visit together. He enjoyed it, and so did I.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us whether Ambassador Smith is going to return to Moscow?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't. I will tell you definitely about that. He doesn't want to return there, but he will if it becomes necessary, as the Ambassador's health is not very good at the present time. I don't want to make any comment on what he is going to do yet.8

8 The President's letter accepting the resignation of Walter Bedell Smith as Ambassador to the Soviet Union was released by the White House on March 25, 1949. General Smith served as Ambassador from March 22, 1946, through March 25, 1949.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, there is a report from Manila that the President of the Philippines is coming here next week. Can you say anything about that?

THE PRESIDENT. I hadn't heard about it.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, I understand that there is some disappointment here because you failed to recommend home rule for the District of Columbia in your State of the Union Message. The last time you recommended it was in the civil rights message.9

THE PRESIDENT. I think I included the civil rights in the Message on the State of the Union, and I think it's covered. The civil rights message was referred to and made a part of the Message on the State of the Union.

9See 1948 volume, this series, Item 20.

Q. This time?


[8.] Q. Mr. President, ordinarily you hold Cabinet meetings on Friday. Do you expect to receive any farewell presents from members of the Cabinet?


Q. No farewells!

THE PRESIDENT. Why don't you ask a straight question ?

Q. For guidance of reporters who are confused, will there be any changes in the Cabinet before your inauguration?

THE PRESIDENT. No, there will not. Mr. Acheson won't be sworn in until after the inauguration. That will answer your question there.

Q. How soon after inauguration might we expect--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you will just have to wait and see. You never can tell.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, will you ask Congress to pass the inter-American military standardization bill?


[20.] Q. Mr. President, does the proposed size of the Air Force represent an improvement in the international situation?

THE PRESIDENT. It's--I don't want to answer that question in that manner in which you have asked it. I think the proposed size of the Air Force is an adequate one. That's the way I will answer your question. Pause]

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. What's the matter? Have you run out of questions? [More laughter]

Note: President Truman's one hundred and sixty-fifth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4 p.m. on Thursday, January 13, 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/229457

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