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The President's News Conference

September 25, 1931


THE PRESIDENT. The American Legion has set an example to other voluntary bodies in the country in its determination to make no demands on the next Congress. 1 A large part of the pressures for increased expenditure by the Federal Government arises, as you know, from the action of voluntary associations, group or sectional interest, or business, or the thousand other activities in the country. This Office is already in receipt of many resolutions of such bodies recommending expenditure for new undertakings by the next Congress. I have no doubt the Members of Congress are receiving some pressure, also.

1 On September 24, 1931, the American Legion adopted an anti-bonus resolution calling upon its members to refrain from placing unnecessary financial burdens on the Government.

Everybody in Washington is familiar with the process by which these bodies, often with meritorious projects, pass resolutions and instruct their representatives in Washington to become active during the session both in respect to the administration and the Congress. You are also aware of their activities in assembling support at home and carrying on constant drives for such increased expenditures. This is a time when the other organizations of the country should realize that this is not an occasion for the increase but rather for the decrease of Federal expenditure.

I have before me a review by the Bureau of the Budget of 271 pieces of legislation introduced by the 71st Congress--from which all duplications as to subject have been eliminated--upon which the executive branches of the Government were asked to pass opinion. They fall in two categories: first, those where the total proposed expenditure is expressed, like construction projects, et cetera; and second, those which would create an annual recurring expenditure. Those in the first category upon which adverse report was made, amounted to $4,900 million and those in the second category to $1,200 million annually. Taking a 10-year period the latter category would amount to some $12 billion.

Now, the only pertinent interest in that table is that it discloses fairly well the character and origin of pressures for increased governmental expenditure, and unless there is a pretty general recognition of the situation we will be faced with the same pressures at the next session of Congress. It is important that there should be a great effort on the part of such organizations to discourage every form of increased Federal expenditure and to themselves withhold projects, even though meritorious, until sometime when the country is in better condition.


For some background and perhaps amusement, I was interested in a proposal to revive the Council of National Defense as a service in the present situation. I have no notion that we will arrive at any such situation but it seemed to have been overlooked that the Council of National Defense, to read the text of the act, "shall be nominated by the President, et cetera, and shall comprise the Secretary of War, Secretary of the Navy, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce and Secretary of Labor." Those gentlemen are all present and in constant service today. Further than that it provides for an advisory committee of seven men to be chosen from industry, the duties of the group are as follows:

"It shall be the duty of the Council of National Defense to supervise and direct investigations and make recommendations to the President and the heads of executive departments as to the location of railroads with reference to the frontier of the United States so as to render possible expeditious concentration of troops and supplies to points of defense; the coordination of military, industrial, and commercial purposes in the location of extensive highways and branch lines of railroad; the utilization of waterways; the mobilization of military and naval resources of defense; the increase of domestic production of articles and materials essential to the support of armies and of the people during the interruption of foreign commerce; the development of seagoing transportation; data as to amounts, location, method and means of production, and availability of military supplies; the giving of information to producers and manufacturers as to the class of supplies needed by the military and other services of the Government, the requirements relating thereto, and the creation of relations which will render possible in time of need the immediate concentration and utilization of the resources of the Nation."

The bill goes on to further define the duties, one of which is the creation of a board of ordnance and fortification, relates to alien enemies, espionage, arsenals, armories, arms and war materiel generally; willful destruction of war materiel and especially interference with homing pigeons owned by the United States; the manufacture, distribution, storage, use and possession, and such allied subjects.

As a matter of fact, in the creation of Mr. Gifford's commission I think we have set up an effective body of the character which will compass the situation. I mention this because there is a general impression that we need more advisory bodies. We certainly get enough advice and little enough action in these days.

Note: President Hoover's two hundred and tenth news conference was held in the White House at 4 p.m. on Friday, September 25, 1931.

On the same day, the White House issued a text of the President's statement on Federal expenditures (see Item 325).

Walter S. Gifford was Chairman of the President's Organization on Unemployment Relief.

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/207667

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