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The President's News Conference

April 05, 1932


THE PRESIDENT. Somebody has inquired as to whether I will be going to the opening baseball game. 1 I hope to have that pleasure.

1 On April 11, 1932, President Hoover attended the American League's opening baseball game between Boston and Washington.


Some 2 months ago I presented to our delegation to the Arms Conference at Geneva certain ideas which I believed would contribute to a solution of some of the problems before the Conference. They were practically incorporated in the general program by our delegation. These ideas have now been more fully discussed and developed during the visit of Mr. Norman Davis in consultation with the Secretary of State and our Army and Navy advisers, with a view of enlarging their scope and application.

With the months that passed, the economic burden and menace to world peace have, if anything, increased. The world needs the reduction of governmental expenditure and the spirit of peace that can come from some degree of successful issue of the Disarmament Conference at Geneva. I have, therefore, asked the Secretary of State to go to Geneva in order to explore with our delegates and those of other nations the possibility of taking some more definite and positive steps in that direction. It is the American desire to produce some concrete and definite results, even though they may not be revolutionary. That is the sole purpose of the Secretary's visit, and there will be no discussion or negotiations by the Secretary on debts.


What I asked for in my message yesterday was organized, nonpartisan cooperation of all forces to reduce governmental expenses in a national emergency which insistently demands relief for the taxpayer.

There are three general directions in which expenses can be reduced.

First: The direct reduction of appropriations within the authority of existing laws creating and specifying various activities of the Government. A definite program to this end was placed before the Congress in the executive budget proposals, in which there was a reduction of $369 million for the forthcoming year. I welcome and hope for further cuts by the Congress, provided that such reductions do not destroy essential functions and that they are genuine and do not merely represent postponed appropriations until deficiency bills next December.

Second: There are a large number of expenditures within the bureaus and departments which cannot be reduced without a change in the laws so that the Executive or the Appropriations Committees can reduce such expenditures. In this direction the department heads have appeared before many different committees in Congress in the last months, and have pointed out a multitude of directions which could be considered by these committees for a reduction of expenditures. But most of them require repeal or amendment of laws which compel the expenditures. Seven departments alone have pointed out over 85 such different directions for consideration of those committees, and which offer possibility of very large reductions. There are still other areas that can, no doubt, be developed.

Third: Those directions of economy which can only be accomplished by reorganization and consolidation of Government functions so as to eliminate overlap, useless bureaus and commissions, and waste. Seven years ago, 5 years ago, as a member of a Cabinet committee on the subject, and again 3 years ago, 2 years ago, 5 months ago, 4 months ago, and 6 weeks ago, I recommended authorization to the executive to make a wholesale reorganization of Government functions so as to eliminate this overlap, abolish useless bureaus and commissions, and do away with waste, but such reorganization in each case to be subject to the approval of Congress. The action recommended has not been taken.

But a dominant consideration over all these things and all these items, methods, and programs is that they concern a great number of committees in Congress. They concern a great number of departments and bureaus. If we take the 11 principal spending branches of the Government, each of them working independently with some part of over 30 different committees in the Congress which are concerned in these ideas and proposals, then even if we had the very best will in the world, without an atom of partisanship, the mere diffusion of effort seemingly makes effective progress on these important questions impossible.

So, what I have asked for is not a commission but merely that the Senate and the House should each delegate representatives to sit down with representatives from the administration and endeavor to draft a comprehensive, general, national economy bill, covering the second and third areas of possible reduction of expenses. Thus one single economy bill, or a few bills, could be presented to the Congress embodying all the measures of economy proposed where change in the law is necessary. Without such action I see no way by which there can be the maximum reduction in expenditures.

That is all.

Note: President Hoover's two hundred and forty-second news conference was held in the White House at 12 noon on Tuesday, April 5, 1932.

On the same day, the White House issued texts of the President's statements on the General Disarmament Conference (see Item 112) and the national economy program (see Item 113) and a list of addresses and remarks made by the President on reorganization of the Government.

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/207583

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