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The President's News Conference

April 05, 1929

THE PRESIDENT. I have quite a batch of questions which I will endeavor to give in groups this time.

AMBASSADOR MYRON T. HERRICK

A very great honor and courtesy have been shown by France to the United States in the arrangements they have made for the return of the body of a most distinguished American citizen. I have asked the Navy to make arrangements for a reception fitting to Ambassador Herrick's great public service and the feeling that I know our people have entertained towards him.

That you can quote from me; and this you cannot: Under no consideration will an appointment be made for weeks, and I do not think it is entirely fitting to discuss the subject at the present time anywhere.

WASHINGTON AIRPORT

I have had some questions on the Washington airport. These now are matters in our second category--things that you can ascribe to the authority of the White House or anywhere you like--they are not vital.

On the Washington airport, I am glad to see the interest taken in the city by the congressional committees over the very careful selection of a site. It is not only important that a wise choice be made from the point of view of the Capital but from the point of view that this is likely to be one of the four or five greatest airports in the United States, in addition to the fact that I expect to see a gradual development of the mail services into Washington from all quarters and the touching here of the South American service. Our Government departments are, all of them, finding that air service is of importance in the nature of economy in government, so that we will require a great port in Washington and we hope for its most convenient location to the city.

PREPARATORY COMMISSION FOR THE DISARMAMENT CONFERENCE

I have had a number of questions referring to the forthcoming meeting of the Preparatory Commission for the Disarmament Conference for which Ambassador Gibson and Admiral Jones have just left as delegates.1

1Hugh Gibson, United States Ambassador to Belgium and Minister to Luxembourg, was Chairman of the American delegation at the sixth session of the Preparatory Commission. Rear Adm. Hilary P. Jones was an adviser from the Navy Department. The session was to meet at Geneva on April 15, 1929.

I find there is some confusion about the purpose of that conference. It has been in existence for several years. We have attended it on several previous occasions. It is not concerned with the making of agreements for disarmament or the limitation of arms but with the preparation of technical methods and information that may lay the foundations for agreement when such conferences for actual agreement might be called. And it certainly is not a part of any conference that might arise in Washington on the expiration of the battleship agreement. And it is not directed particularly towards naval limitation or naval disarmament, but comprises the whole question of disarmament--land as well as naval. We, of course, are not greatly concerned in land questions as our armies are already less than .... [transcript incomplete]

One of the largest problems on naval disarmament is to secure a method for the evaluation of the fighting strength of ships and the division of navies into different categories that might be comparable. This is not a factor alone of tonnage. A great deal of the misunderstanding in the world has grown up over an attempt to compare tons, whereas the evaluation of fighting strength involves not only tons but armament and armor, speed and age, and a number of other factors, so that if this conference should succeed in finding a basis for the evaluation of fighting strength or the division of navies into categories-methods that would be really comparable--it would make a substantial contribution to the whole progress of thought on disarmament. That is its major purpose, and we all hope for its success. That is only background material for you.

TAX REDUCTION AND GOVERNMENT SPENDING

Another question of background here is the number of questions I have received bearing on the reduction of taxes, especially on earned incomes. If any reduction is to be applied to taxes, it is my own belief that it should be applied in that direction. I do not believe that we have a sufficient distinction at the present time between earned and unearned incomes, to use terms that are rather loose--not as precise as they ought to be--but in any event on a general understanding of what we mean by those qualifications. Earned incomes obviously must contain a provision for future saving which does not pertain to unearned incomes in an economic sense, and as long as there is insufficient distinction between the two taxes we are penalizing both.

The question of reduction of taxes bears entirely on the rate of public expenditure. You are all aware of the various authorizations and acts of Congress in the past year or 18 months for increasing the burden of expenditure upon the Federal Government--increased naval strength, flood control, various other acts that have been passed, together with probable farm relief--and until we can determine what the actual incidence of those increases may be on the budget it is impossible to talk about tax reduction with any positiveness. We may be able to effect economies in the Government by reorganization, should the burden decrease, the country grow more prosperous, and our income increase; and when we can evaluate these factors 6 or 8 months hence we can discuss the subject with much more purpose.

AURORA PROHIBITION RAID

I have four or five questions referring to the incident of law enforcement at Aurora, Illinois. 2 I have no right to pass any judgment on that question, the facts of which have not been thoroughly sifted by any public tribunal, but I might say that this is entirely a case of local authorities, and was not participated in in any shape by the Federal authorities, right or wrong. Federal visitation and search of private [p.61] dwellings, as you know, is strictly limited by the laws, and directions have been given to the Federal service that are of the most stringent order on that whole question, and I know of no cases since this administration where there has been anything which could even be called an excessive zeal by any agent.

2 A woman was killed during a raid by prohibition agents. Subsequent investigation determined that Federal officers did not participate in the action.

Q. Mr. President, do you mean those instructions have been issued since the Aurora case ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, some months ago and are still in force.

That completes everything that I have to say. I have some questions bearing on oil. This will be dealt with by the Oil Board. I have nothing on appointments.

Q. Is this last material in the quote category ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, that is background for you.

Note: President Hoover's tenth news conference was held in the White House at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 5, 1929.

The White House also issued a text of the President's statement on French honors to Ambassador Herrick (see Item 29).

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/208245

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