The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. I have a few questions today which are helpful. Anything to stimulate one's mind helps to deliver something to you.
PUBLIC WORKS AND UNEMPLOYMENT
First is on the drive for increase in construction and improvement work to take up unemployment. That is showing most encouraging results, and it looks as if the work undertaken will be larger in 1930 than that in 1929.
The Department of Commerce has completed the returns from the Governors of 16 States covering the public works to be undertaken by the States and by the counties and municipalities for next year, and they have partial returns from 13 more States. It will require probably another 2 weeks to complete the whole of those surveys. The total so far reported, including the Federal Government construction work, is about $1,550 million, and in nearly every case is larger than 1929.
The preliminary estimate of the railways for construction and betterments for 1930 is $1,050 million, and the public utilities is $2,100 million, including the telephones, all of which are larger than 1929. The total of these items so far is $4,700 million. I will give you a mimeographed note on this so that you will have the figures. That $4,700 million does not include the building construction, or the balance of the State programs. It does not include the industrial and factory improvements in expansion. The latter is under survey by the committee over at the Chamber of Commerce. 1
1 National Business Survey Conference.
The steel companies report this morning that the effect of the drive is showing very clearly in orders, and they are very much beyond any expectation.
I have a question: "Is the pending Interior Department appropriation bill carrying only $800,000 for topographic maps, in accord with your program for the completion of the map of the United States in 18 years?" 2 It is not. The States must contribute one-half of the cost of that program, and we have a drive coming on to get the States to become more active in their contribution. The appropriation is up to the full estimate of what the States are likely to do.
2 The President proposed to expedite the completion of the survey and maps by the Geological Survey and the Coast and Geodetic Survey by reducing the time for completion of the project from approximately 80 to 18 years. See 1929 volume, Item 227.
I also have a question with respect to the reorganization and progress in the Indian Bureau. I have emphasized the necessity for this reorganization by the appointment of Mr. [Charles J.] Rhoads as head of the Bureau and Mr. [J. Henry] Scattergood as his assistant, and Secretary Wilbur is giving it very particular attention.
We have presented to Congress a request for $3 million extra in next year's budget, and we are sending up a considerable sum in the deficiency bill to cover the balance of this year. The purposes of these increases are mainly to build up the educational and health work amongst the Indians, to give proper direction to educational work, and also to build up industrial improvement. The support of the schools and the health program amongst Indians have not kept pace with the depreciated value of money since prewar. The amount allowed today for food for Indian children in schools is 20 cents a day, which is about one-half of the amount necessary to maintain a fair state of health. We have about 338,000 Indians. The broad problem is to train the youth so that they may take care of themselves and their property. The Indians, as you know, many of them are possessed of very large properties and they are considerably increasing. And it is only through the youth that we can hope to ultimately discharge this problem from the Nation and blend them as a self-supporting people into the Nation as a whole.
The Indian Bureau is recommending to Congress a number of changes in the laws bearing on Indian affairs, and these recommendations are designed to secure a better administration of their very large properties and to correct many things in the administration of the properties which prevented the development of better citizenship.
INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION
I also have a question on the Interstate Commerce Commission. I regret to say that Commissioner [Johnston B.J. Campbell has resigned. He has been a distinguished public servant.
I shall fill that vacancy by some appointment from the Intermountain States. At the request of Mr. [Robert M.] Jones, of Tennessee, I shall withdraw his name, as on reconsideration he has concluded that he does not wish to accept the appointment. And again in that case the appointment will be made from the South.
REPAIR OF EXECUTIVE OFFICES
And my final question is on the White House offices. It is our intention to repair the present executive offices and make the attic and the roof fireproof this time. This can all be done in somewhere between 60 and 90 days.
A number of Members of Congress and a number of newspapers throughout the country, and other citizens, have proposed a suggestion that we should erect a new and more imposing executive office on some other site. That would require 2 or 3 years for design and construction. The present offices will serve all purposes for the next few years, and I am particularly anxious to get ahead with the construction of the departmental buildings. No doubt the time may come when we will need a more imposing and more dignified executive office, but I would rather get ahead with the departmental buildings in Washington and leave that, if necessary, until the last.
And that comprises the budget that I have for this occasion.
Note: President Hoover's seventy-ninth news conference was held in the State, War, and Navy Building at 4 p.m. on Friday, January 3, 1930.
The White House also issued texts of the President's statements on public works and unemployment (see Item 4), Indian affairs (see Item 5), appointments to the Interstate Commerce Commission (see Item 6), and repair of the executive offices (see Item 7).
Herbert Hoover, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/211736