Harry S. Truman photo

The President's Second News Conference at Key West

December 15, 1949

[The Official Reporter states that the President attempted a surprise visit to the press room but that everyone seemed to know he would come.]

Q. My God!--this is on the record!

THE PRESIDENT. What's that, Joe?

Joseph A. Fox, Washington Star: This is on the record?


Q. Everybody here?

THE PRESIDENT. We'll have to wait a few minutes, I guess, to see that everybody is protected. [Merriman Smith appeared in blue pajamas with burgundy spots.]

Q. Have you ever seen anything like the dead still walking! [Much laughter]

Merriman Smith, United Press Associations: I stayed up all night working on official papers.

Q. Nixon will never forgive me as long as he lives.


Q. Where's Nixon?

Q. He's shaving.

1Robert G. Nixon, International News Service.

Q. He's up--he's down! [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. How are you all this morning?

Charles G. Ross, Secretary to the President: This reminds me of the time I held up the President's plane in the jungles.

THE PRESIDENT. At 3 o'clock in the morning.

Mr. Ross: Tropical rainstorm.

[As pictures were being taken] Can't we suspend the picture-taking while the conference is going on and then you can take a few later. Don't let's have the picture now while it is going on.

THE PRESIDENT. Take them afterwards. I can't see the expressions on the fellows' faces here when you do that.

Q. Where's Nixon? [Mr. Nixon appeared ]

[1.] Q. How is your vacation, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Very pleasant--very pleasant vacation. A very successful one.

Q. From what point of view, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Every point of view.

Q. Got a lot of work done?

THE PRESIDENT. Got a lot of work done-good deal of rest--plenty of sunshine--very satisfactory all around.

Q. Do you agree with General Graham who said you should take vacations more often?

THE PRESIDENT. I agree, but I don't see how it can be done.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, shortly before we came down here, Secretary Tobin made a speech in Boston in which he said it was his opinion that every person in the United States 65 years or older should get a pension of at least a hundred dollars a month. Was he speaking with your approval?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't see the Secretary's speech, and I am not familiar with it, therefore I have no comment to make on it.

[3.] Q. Speaking of Secretaries, Secretary of Commerce Sawyer the other day recommended--I believe I am right on that--lifting or at least casing excise taxes in the interest of aid to business. Does that also coincide--

THE PRESIDENT. That is a matter that is under consideration by the Treasury Committee and by the experts on the Ways and Means Committee of the House. No conclusion has yet been reached on it. It will be covered in the Budget Message.

Q. What is that Treasury Committee, Mr. President? Isn't that the Joint Committee--

THE PRESIDENT. A bunch of experts--the fellows in the Treasury Department that work on taxes. They have been there all the time.

Q. The House Ways and Means Committee?

THE PRESIDENT. The Committee on Ways and Means that has been there always--they work in complete harmony.

Q. The answer to that question is it will be in the Budget Message?

THE PRESIDENT. It will be in the Budget Message. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, could you tell us anything about the--whether you plan to ask for new taxes?

THE PRESIDENT. I will have to cover that in the Budget Message.

Q. Mr. President, will your aim be to try to balance the budget?

THE PRESIDENT. It has always been my aim to try and balance the budget. The 80th Congress unbalanced the budget, and nobody else in the world is to blame, for they knew exactly what they were doing when they did it. I made it very plain to them in three veto messages.

Q. Mr. President, do you still feel that the only way to offset a deficit is to increase taxes?

THE PRESIDENT. That is a matter that is under study and I will answer that in the Budget Message.

Q. But you will ask for a balanced budget?

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that in the Budget Message. [Laughter]

[4.] Q. Are you able to tell us whether you are going to ask for any new housing legislation in the new Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. That matter is under consideration.

Q. No definite decision yet?

THE PRESIDENT. No definite decision as yet.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, I wanted to ask about point 4. I wonder what you might ask for the New Year?

THE PRESIDENT. Some legislation has been introduced on point 4, and there will be some further study and recommendations on that basis that will be mentioned also in the State of the Union Message.

Q. You asked for 45 million before, didn't you, last year?

THE PRESIDENT. I think so--I think that was the figure. I can't remember exactly, but I think that was the figure.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, have you decided on any one to be Chairman for the Atomic Energy Commission?


[7.] Q. I have a query here. J. Copeland Gray's term expires in the NLRB on Friday. Would you be able to say yet whether he will be reappointed?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't comment on that yet. I haven't made up my mind on what I am going to do about it. I will let you know just as quickly as I am ready.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, I understand there is a regular promotion list in the Navy before you. Would you care to say when you will act on that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I am not ready to act on it now. It is on my desk, and it has been on my desk for some time, and there never has been but one list and I have got it, and I have had it all the time.

Q. That is relative to that Burke thing?2

2According to newspaper reports there was some confusion as to whether or not the name of Capt. Arleigh A. Burke had been removed from a naval promotion list for rear admiral. Captain Burke had recently headed the section, "Op-23," formed to advise the Chief of Naval Operations on organizational and unification problems. That section took a leading part in helping to correlate the testimony presented by naval witnesses to the House Armed Services Committee during the October hearings on unification problems.

Q. Mr. President, the reports on that list that have come to us are that you sent it back to the Navy Department.

THE PRESIDENT. That was never sent back. The list came in its controversial form directly from the Navy, and I knew nothing about the controversy until I got the list, and the list will remain on my desk until I have made up my mind.

Q. No revisions, or anything else?

THE PRESIDENT. No, none at all.

Q. None sent back?

THE PRESIDENT. None sent back.

Q. No one has been knocked off of it, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. No. There have been no names knocked off, and no substitutes, and when I make up my mind what I am going to do about it, I will make the decision and you will know all about it.

Q. When you speak of controversial matters, is that the Burke case?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that.

Q. I see.

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't studied the thing at all.

Q. Could you tell us, Mr. President, what the controversy is to clear up?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't. [Laughter]

[9.] Q. Mr. President, can you say if the next year's budget will run as high as the present?

THE PRESIDENT. The figures have not been reached.

Q. They have not?

THE PRESIDENT. We are working on it now. It hasn't been completely totaled up.

Q. Pace told us it would not be under 45 billion, so I didn't see how far--

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that because it hasn't been completely totaled. I think there are some still pending of a minor character.

Q. Sir, have you set any limit below which the budget will not go, and above which it will not go?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I have not. You can't run a budget that way. A budget has to be gotten out in the interest of the Nation's whole.

[10.] Q. Is there anything you could tell us what you expect of the 81st Congress--the next session?

THE PRESIDENT. I will tell you all about that in the State of the Union Message, which is just about ready.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, have you decided on the successor to Clark Clifford yet?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I will make an announcement on that a little later.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, this Treasury committee, is that a new committee that is working in the Treasury, or up in the Capitol?

THE PRESIDENT. Ever since I have been in the Congress, since 1935.

Q. Are they making any new studies?

THE PRESIDENT. They are studying the tax situation all the time. That is the Ways and Means Committee of the House.

Q. We are pushing hard there.

THE PRESIDENT. I have been telling you right straight from the shoulder.

[13.] Q. How about a successor to Dr. Nourse?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't decided on one yet.

Mr. Ross: These questions all have a very familiar ring, Mr. President. [Laughter]

Q. Do you have anything you would like to volunteer? [More laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. No announcements.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, did you eat one of the ostrich eggs?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I did not.

[15.] Q. Any folks coming down from that Democratic meeting Sunday night in Miami, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Not that I know of.

Q. Aren't they?

Mr. Ross: I might ask Mr. Fox a question. Who are you ready to appoint on the Municipal Court in Washington?

Joseph A. Fox, Washington Star: No. I want that one for Sunday. I have already named one. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, you are still for Joe Fox? [More laughter]

Q. Slightly less.

Q. We'll sell him to you cheap.

Q. We won't ask favors.

THE PRESIDENT. I understand a fellow doesn't have to know anything about law to have that job. How about that, Joe?

Mr. Fox: I hope you will put that off the record, that's all I have to say!

THE PRESIDENT. We are just discussing Joe now.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, can you give us a line on any new foreign policy action you may take?


Q. Anything--

THE PRESIDENT. That will be covered in the State of the Union Message.

Q. Anything new, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Nothing new.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, I will ask one question about a District situation. On that Lauderdale vacancy, are you taking recommendations from somebody on that--a fellow in the Public Utilities Commission--it hasn't come to your attention?

THE PRESIDENT. It hasn't come to me yet.

Q. I rather doubted it.

THE PRESIDENT. I suppose they will make recommendations on it, but it hasn't reached me yet.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, what about that new housing regulation that the Solicitor General announced, about ending segregation--

THE PRESIDENT. Well, my suggestion to you about that is to talk to Mr. Foley. He is the authority on that, and he will cover it for you completely and thoroughly. I think that statement was made to you once before.

Q. Yes, sir. [Laughter] Q. Just like that!

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and eighth news conference was held in the Press Room of Bachelor Officers Quarters No. 128 at the United States Naval Base, Key West, Fla., at 10 a.m. on Thursday, December 15, 1949.

Harry S Truman, The President's Second News Conference at Key West Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/229818

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