Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

January 15, 1948

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I have one announcement for you. Mr. Vincent Burke, the Postmaster of Washington, will be the First Assistant Postmaster General. And his background is available for you after the conference, if you want it. He has had 41 years in the postal service.

And now I am ready for questions.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, your tax proposal said nothing of any extension of community property tax benefits. Do you oppose extension of the benefits in all States?

THE PRESIDENT. The tax bill will be explained tomorrow before the committee 1 by the Secretary of the Treasury, and he will cover the waterfront, no doubt. That's all the comment I have to make or to explain. It will speak for itself.

1 House Committee on Ways and Means.

[3.] Q. What are your latest thoughts, Mr. President, about the Civil Aeronautics Board chairmanship?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't any. I was very much disappointed in the action of the senatorial committee. 2 Probably have to start over.

2 On January 13 the Senate Armed Forces Committee rejected President Truman's request for special legislation to permit Maj. Gen. Laurence S. Kuter to retain military pay and rank while serving as Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board. On the same day, General Kuter announced that he would not resign from the Army to become Chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board.

Q. Mr. President, is Jim Mead 3 being considered for that?

THE PRESIDENT. He is not. [Laughter]

3 James M. Mead, former U.S. Senator from New York.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, in your Budget Message you came out for the special bank reserves. Secretary Synder had opposed that previously. Does that mean that Snyder has come around to the Federal Reserve Board view?

THE PRESIDENT. The Cabinet is in complete harmony on that Message.

Q. In complete harmony.


[5.] Q. Mr. President, any successor to Vincent Burke thought of yet?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, when Mr. Alberto Dodero of Argentina visited you the other day, did he bring you a message from President Peron?

THE PRESIDENT. Just good wishes.

Q. From President Peron?

THE PRESIDENT. From President Peron, yes.

[7.] Q. These appointments, of Burke as well as Donaldson, from within the ranks gives you a professional setup over there, doesn't it--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it does.

Q. How long did you say Burke had been in the service?

THE PRESIDENT. Forty-one years. He used to be over in the Post Office Department in Washington.

Q. Darn good Postmaster.

THE PRESIDENT. He is also taking a cut in pay by accepting this thing. He got more as Postmaster of Washington than he will get as First Assistant Postmaster General.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, has Mr. Theodore Wright of the Civil Aeronautics Board Authority submitted his resignation?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, he has, and I have it under consideration. He doesn't want to quit immediately. He is going to stay on awhile.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, are you going ahead with the controversial balcony?

THE PRESIDENT. I am! Your paper to the contrary notwithstanding. [Laughter]

Q. Lot of other papers, too, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, they don't know the facts, or they wouldn't be that way. And you can't explain it to them, because they don't want to know.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, in your Budget Message you indicated that you were opposed to raising the subsistence payments to veterans at the present time, those in school--

THE PRESIDENT. Only in special--I don't think that was in the Budget Message. You had better read it again. [Laughter] There were specific instances where an increase in subsistence was not recommended, but in other instances I think you will find that it was.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, that home rule for the District of Columbia; people had expected you to recommend that in your State of the Union Message.

THE PRESIDENT. It doesn't belong in the State of the Union Message. I have expressed my opinion on that on several occasions, and I am still for home rule in the District. But I can't act on it until it gets before me.

[12.] Q. I want to ask you about a paragraph in the air policy report.1 I don't know whether you paid any attention to it or not, but it states flatly there that we ought to have wartime security on aeronautical developments. I wonder if you have made up your mind about the possibility of reviving that?

THE PRESIDENT. That is under consideration, but I have not made up my mind on the subject.

1 See Item 7.

Q. What is under consideration? As to the broader question of censorship?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no. What that report means is that we ought to keep our manufacturing plants in the condition so that it would be available for an emergency, and that doesn't necessarily mean that we have to keep it on a wartime basis.

Q. That wasn't the thought, though, as I understood it. The question was whether we should give everybody our developments as fast as they come along, and this policy report recommended that we do not do that, that we have wartime security, so called. Does that mean revival--

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't understand it that way at all.

Q. That is one of the ways I understood it, though.

THE PRESIDENT. There are some things-for instance atomic energy and the making of our atomic weapons--that we are not giving publicity to, and there are some things in relation to planes that we do not expect to make public. But things that have an effect on transportation and the use of planes for commercial use, will be available.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, would you give your present views on legislation giving States the right to submerged tidelands?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't do that until I see what legislation the Congress is going to send to me. Then I will comment on it.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, to get back to this question of security, does that mean-you say we are not putting out certain things about the making of atomic weapons and certain planes--does that mean that-will there be any new form of censorship to prevent publication of--

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think it's necessary. I don't think there's any man here who would want to give away a secret that might be expensive to us in the long run.

Q. No, but there is considerable philosophy along the line that we should have some sort of clearance, at least that is what Mr. Forrestal has been talking--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I haven't discussed it with him.

Q. A man sits there, who virtually tells you that that is all right to use or isn't all right to use, as was done by Byron Price during the war.

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't come to any such conclusion. At the same time, I hadn't considered the matter along that line at all.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, could you tell us something about the background of the reopening of our air base in Tripoli?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't, and I have no comment to make on it.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, will you have a special message on the St. Lawrence in the next week or two?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know that it will be a special message, but probably will be a letter 1 urging passage of the St. Lawrence Seaway project. I think the Senate committee has acted on it. I am not sure.

1 See Item 12.

Q. It was reported out.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, do you think, in view of the Palestine situation, that American troops might be sent to Palestine?

THE PRESIDENT. I do not. I have no further comment to make on that. Probably in the long run we will have an international police force with the United Nations plan, to which all of us are working.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, I wonder if you would clarify one thing that is in the economic report, where you say you would have budget credit controls that would bring down the cost of living and keep rent costs from going up?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't remember that point at the present time. I will look it up for you, though.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, could we go back to the question of Palestine? Do you mean in the long run there would be an international police force in Palestine?

THE PRESIDENT. Not necessarily. Wherever it is necessary for the United Nations to use it and enforce its mandates.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, in your conference with Harry Carlson, New Hampshire Committeeman, did the subject of Henry Wallace come up?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it did not.

Q. 1948 politics come up?

THE PRESIDENT. Oh yes, that is what National Committeemen come in to talk about. [Laughter]

[21.] Q. Mr. President, you indicated that newspapers didn't want to give information about that balcony, which of course is more or less personal with you, but do you care to say anything about it for--

THE PRESIDENT, I would rather not.

Q.__along the--some sort of statement would be good, it's always interesting--

THE PRESIDENT. I can tell you some other thing. There was the same opposition to putting bathtubs in the White House, and a cooking stove, and gaslight. [Laughter]

Q. But Mr. President, they didn't change the structural appearance.

THE PRESIDENT. Oh yes, but they did, in some instances. Entirely changed the interior of the White House when they put in bathrooms. [Laughter]

Q. The first bathroom was thrown out by Andrew Jackson. He said that washing made you too soft. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. The first bathtub was put in the White House by Mrs. Fillmore.

Q. Was that it? Then I am wrong about that.

THE PRESIDENT. Mrs. Fillmore put the first bathtub in the White House, but they almost lynched her for doing it.

Q. Mr. President, is it going to be a Missouri-type veranda?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that question when I get around to it.

Q. Mr. President, will you have a rocking chair on it?

THE PRESIDENT. I suppose so. [Laughter]

Q. What was the third thing that you said? Bathtub, gaslight, and what?

THE PRESIDENT. Cooking stove. The cooks refused to use the cooking stove. They kept using the old fireplace.

Q. Mr. President, the Republican comment is that you are only a temporary tenant, therefore you are not--

THE PRESIDENT. No President has been anything else but a temporary tenant. That will continue, I hope, as long as our Republic lasts.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, in connection with the visit of Mr. Michael Pearson,1 Defense Minister of Canada, have you anything to say in connection with American-Canadian defense?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome.

1 Lester B. (Mike) Pearson, Canadian Under Secretary of State for External Affairs.

Note: President Truman's one hundred and thirty-third news conference was held in his office at the White House at 4:05 p.m. on Thursday, January 15, 1948.

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/229349

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