Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference on the Budget

January 07, 1950

[As the conference opened, Charles G. Ross, Press Secretary to the President. made the following statement: "As you all know, this seminar is just for your guidance, for background purposes, and not attribution. And when you ask your questions, will you please always refer to the page number of the Message."]

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I would like to tell you first about this group of charts here. Has everybody got one of these charts?

If you will notice, the first chart points out the receipts and expenditures, where they come from and where they go. Then there is this chart here, which shows the reverse of it, the way the distribution of expenditures is made--since 1939--which is exactly reverse--very informative. And the next one shows where the money comes from and where it goes; and the next one is on the same line. That last one is the big one--where I was pointing to in the pictures they just took--it shows what happens in an emergency like we have been through since 1938. And the last end of that chart shows what we are trying to do to keep from getting that big a hump again.

I want to call your attention particularly to part 3 in this green book, which gives you some idea of the Government's assets and investments made over the years, which has not before been pointed out. All these people that yell about expenditures don't understand that a tremendous amount of the expenditures we make is an investment in the United States of America, and if those investments were not made we would not be on the income basis that we are on now, so far as the individual and the business of the country is concerned. I think those are all the preliminary remarks that I want to make.

Mr. Ross: Mr. President, may I say again that these remarks are for guidance and for background purposes, not for attribution, which is customary at these seminars.

THE PRESIDENT. He wants me to impress on you that these statements that I make are for guidance and background and not for personal attribution to the President. I think all of you understand that, particularly those who have been here before.

Mr. Pace: You might also ask that when they ask a question that they refer to the page number,

THE PRESIDENT. The Budget Director wants the page number referred to when you ask a question, and it will make it easier for us to answer. You can proceed now.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, on page M78 (p. 99)1 you have a reference to Federal reinsurance for unemployment compensation, I believe the amount is about $12 1/2 million. Does that represent an amount of money to be actually made available for payment of unemployment compensation benefits ?

THE PRESIDENT. The Budget Director will answer that. I wish you would stand up when you ask your questions so that we can hear you better.

1Page references in parentheses, throughout this news conference, indicate where the subjects referred to may be found in the Budget Message as printed in Item 9, below; all other page references correspond to the page numbers in the Budget as Published in House Document 405 (81st Cong., 2d sess.).

Mr. Pace: Could you repeat that question, please?

Q. Yes. On page M77, M78, M85, and A83 (pp. 99, 100, 105) you will find references to a Federal reinsurance program for unemployment compensation, part of that administration, part of it compensation. I wonder whether the bulk of that is money actually to be made available to pay unemployment compensation benefits ?

Mr. Pace: The answer to that is it would be, if the States need it.

Q. It wouldn't ?

Mr. Pace: Would be.

Q. In that answer, how can you tell me how much is administration and how much for benefits ?

Mr. Pace: Almost entirely for benefits.

[3.] Q. Now, you mention that there are one or two States where the reserve may be exhausted by next fall, or shortly thereafter. Would you name those States ?

Mr. Pace: We can give you those over in the office, when you come over.

Q. Thank you.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, on page M21 (p. 57), under assistance to China, you have got nothing down for 1950, and, if I have got the right program, I think Congress voted 75 million. Is this an indication--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I have still got that $75 million locked up in the drawer of my desk, and it is going to stay there. [Laughter]

John 2 says he might break the desk down.

2 Secretary of the Treasury John W. Snyder.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, I would like to ask one for the record. How much is a moderate tax increase?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that question in the tax message, in language so that you can understand it without a bit of trouble.

Q. Mr. President, when does the tax message go to Congress?

THE PRESIDENT, We are preparing it right now. I hope it will be ready in a few days.

Q. Will it go Monday?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't--no, it won't go Monday. This message only will go down on Monday.

Q. What I mean is, we are writing stories today on the budget. Will the tax message come along Monday to change the lead for the story?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no. You spend your time on the budget, and there will be plenty of time to work on the tax message. We are going to have it ready just as promptly as we can.3
3Item 18.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, on occupied relief--ERP--how much is ERP in this 3,250,000--3 billion--that is, M21 (p. 57)?

Mr. Pace: The answer to that is that the German relief is included in ERP this year. Last year it ran approximately 400 to 450 million. This year, then, would obviously run slightly less than that if it were set out as a separate category; but it is included in ERP operations this year.

Q. That would reduce ERP about a billion, eight ?

Mr. Pace: If it were set out independently--I can't specify exactly how much goes for Germany because there would be some reduction last year. If you used last year's figures it would make it about that amount, but that is not an exact figure for this coming year.

Q. What is the correct figure, then, to use for the amount to be asked for, for ERP for the economic

THE PRESIDENT. It is set out right there. Mr. Pace: The figure set out here, because that is one of ERP's responsibilities this year. In other words, if you were going to show that Germany was actually included in ERP, you could state what part of the actual figure of ERP is the one set out here.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, on page M36 (p. 68), the last sentence of the next to the last paragraph is very interesting: "We should provide through the veterans' programs only for the special and unique needs of veterans arising directly from military service." Can that be taken as a recommendation to repeal laws concerning nonservice-connected disabilities?

THE PRESIDENT. That sets out exactly what it means right there.

Q. That would very greatly reduce veterans administration costs ?

THE PRESIDENT. Not very greatly. It would reduce it, to some extent, but it would prevent it from piling up at a terrific rate, which we anticipate later.

Q. Would also relieve largely the pressure on veterans hospitals ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, to some extent it would.

Q. Thank you, sir.

Q. On that very point, is this not an argument against general pension legislation?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Yes, that is exactly what it is for. That is exactly what it is for. We would all be paying pensions to ourselves if this thing gets spread out too thin. The Budget Director calls attention to the fact that it has been the policy all along, that sections of the GI bill of rights legislation to stop--heads off the general pension plan. I think it has done a remarkable job for the returned veterans, and I think they all think so, too.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, this--the question of policy, do you have any personal objection, or any administrative objection, to Congress handling your Budget in a single appropriation bill ?

THE PRESIDENT. The Congress has been discussing that matter for quite some time. I would be perfectly happy if they would take this budget and pass it as a whole, just like it is. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, that was hardly the intent of the question.

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't understand you?

Q. That was hardly the intent of the question. [More laughter]

Q. Mr. President, you said you were going to submit about $7 billion in estimates later, and about $33 billion at this time. I think that is--

THE PRESIDENT. No, this is the budget right here before you. This is the budget we--that we are submitting. This is the budget document here that goes to Congress. I don't think there is anything in addition to this green book.

Q. My question was, how would that affect the single package appropriation bill?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think it would affect it at all. I don't think it would affect it at all. That is a matter for Congress itself to decide. I can't tell them how to handle the budget. All I am interested in is that they don't treat it as they did last year. A lot of them have to be elected this year and they had better get that appropriation bill through in a hurry.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, will you accept a single package bill with the item veto?

THE PRESIDENT. I have always been in favor of the item veto. It requires, I understand, a constitutional amendment to have an item veto, and I don't think there is any possible chance of getting that in this budget, or any other one for several years to come.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, getting back to the overall figure, please, on page M5 (P. 45)--the digest figures for the 1951 budget.


Q. 42,439--that is existing and proposed legislation?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right. That is the whole thing, existing and proposed legislation.

Q. That, of course, does not include the social security collections and payments ?

THE PRESIDENT, Oh no, that is a separate account.

Mr. Pace: It does include railroad retirement.

Q. It does include it?

Mr. Pace: It does include railroad retirement. That is included in the trust funds.

Q. Then the 37.3 of revenue is without any anticipated change in the--without change in the existing--

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Mr. Pace: That is correct

. THE PRESIDENT. What is it?

[11.] Q. Mr. President, on page M43 (p. 73), in relation to social security, you say, "The greater part of them would be financed through special taxes ...."What kind of special taxes do you mean?

Mr. Pace: Payroll.

THE PRESIDENT. Payroll taxes, that is what is referred to.

Q. Payroll taxes?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Mr. President, page M48 (p. 77), you propose that a payroll tax of one-fourth of 1 percent be placed on employers and employees effective January 1, 1951. Does the receipts side of the cash budget reflect that increase, and the increase in health insurance?

THE PRESIDENT. Budget will have to answer that.

Mr. Pace: The answer to that is that it would be reflected in the cash budget, but would not be reflected in this budget, which is known as the conventional type budget.

Q. But it is reflected in the cash budget that you have in the statement ?

Mr. Pace: That is correct, yes. That is correct.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, on pages M68 and M69 (pp. 92, 93), there is a discussion of the high subsidies for the United States Maritime Commission for shipbuilding. My question is whether the issue, or whether the subject of the effect of the deflation of British currency on shipbuilding and shipbuilding subsidies was considered in summing up this question?

THE PRESIDENT. We work in American dollars entirely.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, on that--right across the page, M69 (p. 93)--you have got proposed legislation for the postal deficit, 395 minus. Apparently that refers to legislation for increasing the postal receipts on mail, not subsidies ?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Have they worked that out yet?

Q. It was 250. You said that was not enough.

THE PRESIDENT. No, it is not enough. It is increasing all the time--all the time.

Q. Have you worked that out?

THE PRESIDENT. The Postmaster General, I think, has the figure all ready to send to the Congress.

Mr. Pace: I think he is working on it at the present time.

THE PRESIDENT. The Budget Director says that the Postmaster General is working on it at the present time, but I have discussed the matter with the Postmaster General and I know that he is going to ask for what it takes to meet that deficit.

Q. Have you talked to the congressional leaders about it ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I have. And I have also talked to a number of newspapermen, and some commentator fellows, and fellows who have the fight idea think that it ought not to be a subsidy. The thing has run at nearly $3 billion over the last 20 years. Those fellows using the subsidies--that's all right for them--but they yell about some other subsidies. I think they, too, ought to be met. [Laughter]

[14.] Q. Mr. President, this is probably a question for the Budget Director: what is the cash budget?

THE PRESIDENT. We have that argument every year. The cash budget is what--the cash payments--

Q. I mean the figures.

THE PRESIDENT. --that the Government has to pay out--that the Government has to pay out over previous years.

Q. You didn't understand my question properly.

THE PRESIDENT. All right, give it to him.

Q. The overall figure, outgo and income?

THE PRESIDENT. All right, we will give it to you.

Mr. Pace: If they will go on with the questions

THE PRESIDENT. Go ahead with the questions. As soon as we get the figures we will come back and answer you.

[15.] Q. M85 (p. 105)--Inland Waterways Corporation--$3 million--I can't find it in the big budget.

THE PRESIDENT. It must be in there.

Q. No, it isn't--550 in the big budget. It is apparently new legislation?


Q. Under Transportation and Communication -- Inland Waterways Corporation --estimated expenditures--$3 million?

Mr. Lawton: That is to raise capital stock.

Q. What are you going to do with it?

Mr. Lawton: Improve facilities of the Inland Waterways Corporation.

Q. That has not been approved by Congress-not authorized?

Mr. Lawton: Not yet.

Q. It has not been authorized?

Mr. Lawton: No.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think it has been authorized, but we are asking for it here.

[16.] Mr. Pace: The answer to the previous question, Mr. President, is that the whole figure is set out on page A117--the whole summary and supporting tables--on table 13 on page A117 of the cash budget. That will answer not only your final question but any detailed questions, on page A117.

Q. $45 billion against $43 billion? Mr. Pace: That's right.

Mr. Lawton: That's correct.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, on page M85 (p. 105), on your proposed legislation there is an item of half a million dollars for research in utilization of salt water; and on another page, under national resources, the same item is listed at a million dollars. I wonder if those could be reconciled ?

THE PRESIDENT. Can you reconcile them, Mr. Budget Director ?

Mr. Pace: The answer on that is that unfortunately in your tables you have to round the figures, and this is purely a question of rounding. The statement and your tables is a rounded figure. The statement in your direct quotations is an accurate statement.

Q. Which one is the one that will be used, Mr. Pace ?

Mr. Pace: The one in the text and not in the tables.

Q. The one not in the list of proposed legislation?

Mr. Pace: That is correct.

Q. That would be a million dollars, then?

Mr. Pace: That is correct--that is correct.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us the figure of the national income ?

THE PRESIDENT. $212 billion.

Q. Is that for both fiscal 1950 and 1951?

Secretary Snyder: That is correct. Average annual personal income paid to the individual.

Q. 212?

Secretary Snyder: 212.

Q. Is that for fiscal--

Secretary Snyder: 1951, and also in the adjusted figure for 1950.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, what is the probable figure on total national output on what we call national income ? That is a different figure from the .personal income figure.

THE PRESIDENT. That includes corporations, and everything. I think the total figure includes all income--this is personal income.

Q. Comparable figure to the one used in the Economic Report ?

THE PRESIDENT. Between 255 and 260 would be your figure that you are talking about.

[20.] Q. Right along that line, what level of employment or unemployment are you assuming ?

THE PRESIDENT. That is set out in the Message on the State of the Union, and I would invite you to read it4
Q. Yes, sir.

4 Item 2

[21.] Q. This budget, then, is predicated on no change in personal or national income in this coming fiscal year?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct, at present levels.

Q. At present levels.

[22.] Q. Mr. President, is your ERP given here a final estimate, or is that subject to change?

THE PRESIDENT. It is subject to change, of course.

Q. Well, Mr. President, you said it's on present levels. On A4--


Q. Yes--direct taxes on individuals is higher in 1951 estimate than in 1950 estimate. Apparently you think 1951 is going to be better than 1950?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I hope it will be.

Q. You just said it was based on 212?


Q. Well, how do you get the difference?

Secretary Snyder: Well, there are a number of adjustments there that in the 1950--. in making the adjustments, that changed the taxes.

Q. It might be that you had a coal or steel strike which would cut down corporation incomes in 1951?

Secretary Snyder: We certainly don't want one.

Q. Has that been taken into consideration?

Secretary Snyder: That has been shown in the corporate profits, and in the individual incomes.

[23.] Q. Mr. President, I need clarification on page M84 (p. 104)--estimated expenditures for European recovery. The figure is given as 1 billion, 7.

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't understand your question. Please repeat it.

Q. I would like to have clarification of the figure of 1 billion, 7--estimated 1951 expenditures on European recovery program and other foreign aid?

Mr. Pace: That is the part that comes out of the new appropriations. The other is carryover appropriation, making the two totals the same. In other words, this is the new part that will come out of the new appropriation. A large part will be carryover from old appropriations. Thus a million, 550 will be a carryover from old appropriations. This will be the amount of expenditures that will come out of appropriations asked this year.

Q. Thank you.

Q. Mr. President, then the only new money is that on page 1, I guess it is--40 billion--

THE PRESIDENT. Which page is that?

Q. M5 (p. 45), I guess.

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. One more question, is that $25 million item in there the only immediate expenditure contemplated for point 4?


Q. $45 million.


Q. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. The Budget Director calls attention to the fact that the operational figure for 1951 is substantially below the operational figure for 1950--about $3 billion--which would have its effect on future years.

Q. Mr. Pace, could I come back to that question about that billion, 7 on ERP? I am still mixed up about that. Does that billion, 7 come out of the 3 billion, 1 total new appropriations?

Mr. Pace: That's right. That's right. That is the part that will be expended out of that cash payments. That's the distinction between these payments and appropriations. Thus, appropriations for the 3 billion, 2 and the 1 billion, 7 is the amount of money that will actually be paid out in the year 1951 out of that new appropriation.

Q. Where does the balance come?

Mr. Pace: The balance comes from 1950.

Q. From the 1950?

Mr. Pace: That's right. It's a carryover there, as it always is, which is the really confusing thing about this Federal budgetary process.

[24.] Q. Do you have an expenditure breakdown for the Army, Navy, and Air Force ?


Q. There is an appropriation breakdown which I couldn't find--an expenditure breakdown.

THE PRESIDENT. You will find a table in there--when I was running through it last night I think table 8 covers it. You will find that under different headings in all the Government. You will find it under table 8.

Mr. Pace: Table 8--A63.

THE PRESIDENT. 63--A63--you will find all those things covered in every branch of the Government in table 8.

[25.] Q. Mr. President, on M18 (p. 54), second paragraph, "In 1951, about $2.5 billion of the increase in the debt will be financed by new investments in Federal securities by trust accounts and other Government agencies." Does that mean that 2 billion, 5 will be asked by public financing ? Is that the only other way you can get it?

Secretary Snyder: That is the difference, yes.

Q. New public financing? Secretary Snyder: That is correct.

Q. Will the war bonds meet that, or will that--not war bonds, savings bonds.

Secretary Snyder: Savings bonds.

Q. Yes.

Secretary Snyder: We have not determined what category--whether short term,

long term, or intermediate term, but --

Q. Public.

Secretary Snyder:--if the necessity for additional funds comes up, we will give consideration to additional types of securities.

Q. Mr. Secretary, you will expect the savings bonds to take as much of that as possible, will you not?

Secretary Snyder: Well, the savings bond is of course part of our overall financing program, and they have been effectively carrying a pretty good part of the general distribution of our sales, because up to right now we are still selling more savings bonds than the redemptions are taking out.

Q. On page M

Secretary Snyder: We are not using savings bonds to any specific purpose. It is just part of the general revenue of the budget.

THE PRESIDENT. What is it you want to ask?

[26.] Q. M31 (p. 64):--"While no new obligational authority is recommended in this Budget" for ships--new ships--I imagine they go 2 or 3 years ahead, don't you, on laying keels, etc.?


Q. But no new ships contemplated under the budget?

THE PRESIDENT. That is correct--that is correct.

[27.] Q. Mr. President, is there anything in the message to indicate when you expect to balance the budget, in what year ?

THE PRESIDENT. No. No, I am not that much of a prophet.

[28.] Q. Well, Mr. President, the Budget Director said that the obligations would be about $3 billion--request for obligations-about $3 billion less than last year. Can you give us a breakdown on which specific items were cut down?

Mr. Pace: I can't give it to you here. I can give it to you over at the office. I think probably it is set out in the table here.

THE PRESIDENT. It's in one of these tables-I saw it--but I can't remember which one. It is set out in one of those tables.

Mr. Pace: If you will take a look at table 3--pardon me--on pages 96 and 97--it will give you the general picture. Take a look at the recap on A7, it will give you the figures you need.

[29.] Q. Mr. President, in looking over Treasury, I was unable to determine any item that would show the cost of the silver purchase program during the year. Is that broken down in any way in the budget?

THE PRESIDENT. Did you use those figures?

Mr. Pace: We haven't got a breakdown of that in here, no.

[30.] Q. How much additional revenue, Mr. President, would the proposed payroll tax increase on January 1, 1951, bring in?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't tell you offhand, I don't know. The Budget Director can get it for you.

Mr. Pace: Yes, I can get that.

[31.] Q. Mr. President, on page M18 (p. 54), coming back to the reference to $2 1/2 billion, new investments by Governmental agencies, does that mean that the proposed tax increase would have an upper limit of 2.6 to meet the 1.1 deficit?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that in the message on taxes which I am getting ready right now.

[32.] Q. Mr. President, on page A49, Federal Security Agency, public health, aid to local public health, etc., are those figures all based on the three bills now in the Congress ?

Mr. Pace: That is correct. THE PRESIDENT. That is correct.

Q. Will you have that again?

THE PRESIDENT. You wanted to know if these figures for the public health on page A49 were based on pending legislation? They are.

Mr. Pace: That is correct.

[33.] Q. Mr. President, on page 1114, the special section you refer to in the beginning


Q.--on investments, you have a figure in the first paragraph of page 1114 of 8.7 billion for Federal assets. In your message on page M12 (p. 49), you have a figure of 5.6 billion. Is the only difference that the military public works are excluded?

THE PRESIDENT. The budget will have to answer that for you.

Mr. Pace: Military public works and equipment are excluded.

Q. That is the only difference ?

Mr. Pace: That's right. Although they are returnable, they are separated for the purposes of determining what actually is a return on the investment.

[34.] Q. Mr. President, I would like to get this cleared up. On page M57 (p. 84), about two-thirds down the page, "As a step toward correcting this situation, I shall transmit to the Congress a legislative proposal to authorize a limited Federal program to assist capable youth who could not otherwise do so to pursue their desired fields of study at the institutions of their choice." Those are Federal scholarships?

THE PRESIDENT. M577 Wait a minute, I haven't found it yet.

Q. About two-thirds down.

THE PRESIDENT. "This Budget includes--

Q. No, the sentence above that.

THE PRESIDENT. "As a step toward correcting this situation, I shall transmit to the Congress a legislative proposal to authorize a limited Federal program to assist capable youth who could not otherwise do so to pursue their desired fields of study at the institutions of their choice." This is about as plain as I can make it.

Q. Federal scholarships? That's a new one on me.

Mr. Pace: It's higher education.

Q. I know. College education.

Mr. Pace: That's right.

Q. Any plans worked out for that--who will get it ?


Q. How it will be distributed?

THE PRESIDENT. The details have not been worked out.

Q. Has the amount been decided on ?

THE PRESIDENT. No. The exact figure has not been worked out.

Q. Going to be, then, a sort of information on the national education?

THE PRESIDENT. When we get the details worked out, I will give it to you in a printed statement of what I hope to do.

Q. Does the budget include that figure, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. A million dollars. Includes a million dollars.

Q. Only a million?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Mr. Pace: That is just to establish the organization.

Q. How many do you expect to take care off.

THE PRESIDENT. That is to set up the organization. Don't expect to take care of a one.

Q. Well then, will that not be, sir, an additional budget figure, an additional appropriation upon the budget?

THE PRESIDENT. It might be. Whenever it gets into operation. Of course, it is not in this budget. I don't think we will have any call for it in this budget. But it will be added to the budget whenever we are ready to operate.

Q. In other words, operations will begin after fiscal year 1951?

THE PRESIDENT. I think so. 1952. It sets out in M57 (p. 84) that it might begin in fiscal year 1952.

Q. Mr. President, Mr. McGrath5 of the Office of Education has recommended $300 million for that program annually. Are you prepared to go that high for it ?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not prepared to make any statement on the subject now.

5 Earl J. McGrath, Commissioner of Education.

[35.] Q. Mr. President, on page M29 (p. 63), you refer to the maintenance of six Marine Corps battalion landing teams. Does that indicate a change in the status of the two divisions?

THE PRESIDENT, Will you repeat that question?

Q. On page M29 (p. 63), you refer to maintaining six Marine Corps battalion landing teams. Does that indicate abolishment of the two divisions they now have?

THE PRESIDENT. I think you will have to ask that question of the Secretary of Defense. I myself can't answer it.

[36.] Q. Mr. President, on M80 (p. 101)--that chart--Bureau of Internal Revenue, Treasury--$253 million--is that for the checking up of income tax returns?

THE PRESIDENT. That's right. It's for enforcement. Additional employees for enforcement.

Q. That is a--it has not been authorized has it, that is my recollection?

THE PRESIDENT. It has been asked for in present appropriations, but it has not been authorized yet.

Q. Mr. President, is that 3,000 additional employees ?

Secretary Snyder: Approximately 3,000. It's 2,960, something like that. Approximately 3,000.

THE PRESIDENT. It will be a good investment for the Government. I think we will take in a billion or a billion and a half more in taxes if we get that through. [Long pause here]

What's the matter with you people this morning? [Laughter] Is this thing so plainly gotten up that no questions are necessary? Go ahead back there?

[37.] Q. Mr. President, on M18 (p. 54)--

Q. Mr. President

THE PRESIDENT. Just a minute. What's the page now ?

Q. M18--on the Public Debt--do you have any idea how high you can go with safety on that?

THE PRESIDENT. There are a lot of guesses on that, as high as 278--280, the Secretary of the Treasury says.

Secretary Snyder: I have been trying my best to get to the point where we can pay some of that debt off.

THE PRESIDENT. We did pay $26 billion on it, if you remember, but a certain Congress came along and raised Cain with it

Q. Which one was that?

THE PRESIDENT.-- but we are going to make it, some day.

Q. Mr. President, regarding the public debt, what do you regard as a danger point ?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no statement to make on the subject. I remember when I was in the Senate of the United States I heard distinguished Senators get up and say that whenever the national debt had reached $110 billion the country would go bankrupt and we would all go to hell--and we didn't. And I don't think we will now, either, under present conditions.

[38.] Q. Mr. President, if you get those additional 3,000 Treasury agents, would you be able to collect that additional billion or billion and a half in 1951, or would it take longer?

Q. Louder!

Secretary Snyder: Will you repeat that question, so that they can hear it?

Q. Whether you--if you get the additional 3,000 Treasury agents, would you be able to collect the additional billion to a billion and a half in taxes in fiscal 1951?

Q. We still can't hear. [Laughter]

Secretary Snyder: He asked the question that if we got the additional 3,000 men in the Internal Revenue, would we be able to collect an additional billion dollars in fiscal 1951. I will have to point out that as we progressed beyond the war period, when we had the excise tax situation, and a lot of black marketing, that the enforcement people had a luxury field in which to collect additional revenue. We will have to put on additional people and work harder now to contact more people to collect less money. It is going to be a difficult proposition to collect as much undeclared revenue--yes-undeclared revenue--now, with more people, than it was with fewer people a year or two ago.

We are going to--we have put on a net of 4,100 people within the past 6 or 8 months, and with these additional people made available to us through appropriations we are going to put on a very strenuous campaign. We cannot estimate exactly what the additional revenue would be with those people, because of the changing conditions, but we know that it will net out a great deal more than if we did not have those people.

Q. Mr. Secretary, how much do you estimate the costs on collecting each year, in revenue?

Secretary Snyder: We have no way of estimating that.

[39.] Q. Mr. President, on page M9 (p. 47), you say "we can and should make now some of the changes which are needed in our tax laws, and bring nearer the time when the budget can be balanced." I believe there are also similar phrases in the Economic Report?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, we go into detail on that in that message I am promising you6

6Item 18.

[40.] Q. I was going to ask you about taxes. I was going to ask if you have a goal when you hope the budget will be in balance?

THE PRESIDENT. I want it balanced as soon as possible, and I can't set a date on it, as I said awhile ago. Of course I am as anxious to have it balanced as anybody in the country.

[41.] Q. Mr. President, on page M82 (p. 102)--that civil rights program: "In addition to the amount provided for establishing a Fair Employment Practice Commission, there is included $800,000 as the amount needed under proposed legislation to establish a permanent Commission on Civil Rights." I thought they had abolished that Fair Employment Commission?

THE PRESIDENT. It has been abolished, but I am asking them to reinstate it. I am asking for it to be set up again in the civil rights legislation.

Q. It says "proposed." Has it already been proposed ? I don't remember it.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it has been proposed.

Q. By you?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I think if you will read my message on civil rights you will find it's in there.7

7See 1948 volume, this series, Item 20.

Q. It may be so, there are a lot of things in that message. [Laughter]

[42.] Q. Mr. President, on page M51 (p. 79)--RFC ....


Q.--on the bottom of the second paragraph, "I am recommending an additional $500 million in public debt authorizations in fiscal year 1950, and $250 million in 1951." What is that, a direct entrance into the public debt of that borrowing--in other words, increasing the public debt directly in the 2 fiscal years of 750 million?

Secretary Snyder: It is a method of financing those programs.

THE PRESIDENT. The Secretary of the Treasury says that is a method of financing those programs.

Q. What I am getting at, sir, is how do you translate public debt authorizations?

Secretary Snyder: That would be the sale of Government obligations to the public.

Q. In other words, a direct entrance into the public debt?

Secretary Snyder: That's right.

[43.] Q. Mr. President, page M27 (p. 61)--in the National Defense section--reference to a reduction in new obligational authority. Are the details of that available in here ?

THE PRESIDENT. You will find them--set out specifically in table 8 that has to do with that part of the budget.

[44.] Q. Mr. President, why, in your Military, were not the atomic energy and stockpiling included in it as the military

THE PRESIDENT. Because I don't think they properly should be included in that. We have a special setup for the atomic energy proposition, and the stockpiling is for the general welfare of the whole Government. Stockpiling is included, but I don't think it is necessary that it should be.

Mr. Pace: Stockpiling is in the military.

[45.] Q. Is there a budget item, Mr. President, to cover universal training?


Q. Why not? You recommended it.

THE PRESIDENT. I still recommend it, and I am still for it. I have been recommending it ever since October 1945.8

8See 1945 volume, this series, Item 174.

Q. How much would it cost if you got it?

THE PRESIDENT. I estimate it as $800 million.

Q. If you got it, would it increase the deficit that much ?


[46.] Q. Is there an item in here anywhere--I can't find it--for going forward with that radar net development?

Secretary Snyder: Yes. That is in the Treasury appropriation--Coast Guard.

THE PRESIDENT, Coast Guard, under the Treasury, so the Secretary tells me.

Mr. Pace: It is included, the radar fence, in the Department of the Air Force. It is included in here as well as the one mentioned by the Secretary of the Treasury.

Q. How much is that item ?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer offhand. The Budget will have to hunt it up.

[47.] Q. Page M44 (p. 74)--social security-social welfare, health and security-proposed legislation under the Federal Security Agency--under promotion of public health--if I remember correctly, last year you listed a tentative figure of 800 million for a proposed health program. I notice that is not there this year. Do you concede that there is no possibility of enacting that program?9

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't concede it, and I am going to fight for it as long as I am President. And I am going to get it, one of these days.

9See 1945 volume, Item 192, and 1949 volume, Item 85, this series.

Q. This year?

THE PRESIDENT. In 1947, the Budget Director says.

Mr. Pace: If you look, you will see it.

[48.] Q. You mention the subject of taxes in three messages

THE PRESIDENT. I beg your pardon?

Q. You mention the subject of taxes in three messages, but I don't recall your saying anything about an increase in taxes. Did you say anything about taxes being

THE PRESIDENT. I am going to tell you all about it when we get this tax message ready. It will be ready in a few days.

Q. You say in a few days, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes--few days. It won't be ready Monday. That is only 2 days off.

Well, gentlemen, I appreciate your interest in this, and I want to say to you that the Budget Bureau and the Treasury will be available to answer any further questions that you may have to ask. We are glad to do it--glad to give you all the information possible in connection with this tremendous pile of figures. We have tried to make it as plain and to set it out in as simple language as possible. I think myself that it is the best budget statement that has been gotten out since I have been President. Thank you very much.

Voices: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, the Budget Director wants me to call your attention to page M13 (p. 51), the Management Improvement Program. I hope you will read that very carefully. That is the first time it has been in the budget.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and eleventh news conference was held in the Movie Projection Room in the East Wing of the White House at 10:05 a.m. on Saturday, January 7, 1950. The President was assisted in presenting information on the budget by John W. Snyder, Secretary of the Treasury, by Frank Pace, Jr., Director of the Bureau of the Budget, and by Frederick J. Lawton, Assistant Director of the Bureau of the Budget.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference on the Budget Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230868

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