Harry S. Truman photo

The President's Special Conference With the Association of Radio News Analysts.

October 19, 1949

THE PRESIDENT. Well, gentlemen, it is nice to have you here, as usual. I don't know of anything I can tell you that will be of interest. There isn't a single one of you who doesn't know more about what's going on than I do. [Laughter]

William Hillman (a vice president of the Association): Mr. President, may I say, first, that it is understood that everything is completely off the record. You are not to be quoted, nor anything to be attributed to you, nor any information passed on to any colleague of the organization.

THE PRESIDENT. I appreciate that.

Mr. Hillman: So you can speak freely.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I just--as usual, I am happy to have you here and have this talk with you. I haven't anything particular to say to you. I am waiting hopefully for the adjournment of the Congress to see what can be said, and I suppose you are in the same frame of mind, in all probability, for experience is the teacher about what has gone on down here. I will probably myself have a statement to make when it's over. But as to anything of particular interest, I just don't know anything, Bill.

[1.] Q. Mr. President, could I interrupt--

THE PRESIDENT. Sure.

Q.--to ask you if you would possibly say something about the rivalry between the services that--

THE PRESIDENT. There isn't anything to it. It's just like a family where there are two children, one 3 or 4 years older than the other, the older baby always fights the younger. That's what this is. You usually straighten that out so that it doesn't stay that way for long. It's a matter of adjustment to a situation, a situation that I have been working on ever since I have been old enough to understand what defense is.

I organized the first Reserve association in the United States, and it was made up of Army and Navy and Air Force, and ground forces--with the Marines split off; but it was a start in that direction.

After this war was over, I called on every field commander in the world under our command, to give me his viewpoint on a defense program. Every one of them is on record--including Halsey and two or three of these fellows that testified up there--for the program that is now in effect.

Q. You mean the current program is basically the one that was recommended?

THE PRESIDENT. Basically the one which everybody had agreed was the best approach to the thing in every case. The field commanders in Europe and in the Pacific were in complete control of all the military things that make up the attack. It is necessary in peacetime to train and act as a team. Nobody wants to take the air arm from the Navy. It is necessary that they have fighter aircraft protection all the time. I don't think it is necessary for the Navy to go into the heavy bombing business. And there will just have to be observation planes necessary for field artillery observation. I am a field artillery man, and I know it. The Air Force has to have people on the ground to see that the planes are serviced, to see that this one is maintained, and in all the places where these planes come from.

You can't separate, actually, the services from each other. Each is a part of the other. But there are certain fundamental things which have to be directed as a whole-the air, ground, and water--that's all there is to it. It's as simple as that.

Q. Do you put any credence in the current reports of the anonymous document attributed to General Collins, which would take away the amphibious operational and tactical duties of the Marine Corps and invest them in the Army?

THE PRESIDENT. If you remember, one time President Hoover was on the point of signing an order merging the ground forces. That was when General Pershing was Chief of Staff. But it didn't work. It didn't quite get done.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, apart from Dr. Nourse's words about deficit financing, can you say--

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think--if you will be patient with me--I am very certain that Dr. Nourse didn't know what he was talking about. Although he is an economist, he knows absolutely nothing about Government financing.1 I think I made a broadcast here not long ago in which I set out what a Federal budget is, and the whys and wherelores of it.

1On the same day the White House released the text of the President's letter accepting the resignation of Dr. Edwin G. Nourse as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Our present financial condition was brought about by that rich man's tax bill I have given so much hell about and vetoed three times and I talked about all over the country. That's the reason for our present condition. It is not brought about by spending. No spending has been going on except for the cold war. That costs us about--I should say $3 or $4 billion. If it hadn't been for that, we would have had a defense cost of only $11 billion.

I tried to get it up to 14.40 this year, and Congress made it 15.5--about a hundred million more than I asked for--but that will straighten out. I will explain that, one of these days, when I get around to it. It is not a case for deficit financing at all. It is a case of meeting obligations that the Government owes. The deficit was brought about by returning refunds to the people who needed them the least. That's what the difficulty is.

[3.] Q. I take it, Mr. President, that you are interested in the economic effects of the labor difficulties that we are having now?

THE PRESIDENT. Very much so--very much so--very much so. That is one of the most dangerous things we can have.

Q. Would you care to say anything about the economic outlook ahead?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I can't say what I would say, under the circumstances, until these strikes are settled.

I was talking to one of the biggest manufacturers in town yesterday, and his sales up to September 30th are the greatest in their history--greater than in 1948--taken $30 million off the cost of that merchandise to the public. I am trying to work this thing out.

Q. Mr. President, there have been rumors in the papers that the effects of the strike might bring on a crisis, and that you may act in the event a crisis assumed major proportions by seizing the steel--

THE PRESIDENT. I heard, a long time ago, that my theory of government was to get as much power in the hands of the President as possible. I have been trying to get rid of all those wartime powers with which I have been vested. I have been trying to get these gentlemen to sit around a table and bargain-what they call collective bargaining--a peacetime procedure.

Now, if the attempt is to throw the thing back into a wartime situation, I will certainly have to have the power to act. And whether I have that power or not--you see, the Both Congress repealed a lot of laws that could have been used in an emergency; and I can't answer that question.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, there's a lot of interest in the United Nations on the atomic question, as a result of your announcement about the Russians. I was wondering if you could give us any idea as to the way your thinking is going? There seem to be two ways of going at it in the General Assembly. One might be that the United States would agree not to use the bomb except on authorization of the Security Council, without the veto, and of course that will be on the--

THE PRESIDENT. Don't you think it probable Russia would veto that ?

Q. It wouldn't be subject to the veto.

THE PRESIDENT. The Russians would veto it before we had a chance to use it. They would bring one over here, and use it. What are you going to do about that?

Q. No--but a vote would be taken. Another was the possible change in our proposals for international control.

THE PRESIDENT. How would we change that?

Q. Well, I am asking you, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. How would you change that? We made the best proposition that has ever been made in the history of the world. No nation in the history of the world has ever done what we did in that Proposition.

Q. You don't feel that cooperation--

THE PRESIDENT. We have given them everything we have got, but we want something in return. We want assurance that we will get the same treatment that we have given. That's all we are asking.

Someone was in to see me just recently, and he asked why we didn't go ahead and make peace. "Why don't you get to the Russians and fix this thing up?" he said. I said, "All right, we will give them Berlin, we will give them Germany, we will give them Korea, we will give them Japan, we will give them East Asia. Then they will settle. Is that what you want? .... Oh no, that isn't what we want at all," he said. That's what they want.

[5.] Q. While we are on the East, sir, there is some discussion now of the attitudes of the Western democracies--the three major powers, France, Britain, and ourselves--with respect to recognition of the Chinese Communist government? There is some suggestion that Britain may take a different course than ours and go ahead with recognition, with our tacit permission?

THE PRESIDENT. I hope not.

Q. Would you say anything on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I hope not.

Q. Mr. President, I was talking to a former member of the OSS in China, and he was deeply concerned about removal of our consulates there. We are taking our consulates out, but the British are staying. They at least have listening posts in China.

THE PRESIDENT. The only consulate, I think, that has been closed--been trying for months to get the consul away--is in Mukden. And the Russians are holding him.

Q. Yes, but otherwise in the rest of China we have other consular officials--

THE PRESIDENT. Not so far as I know.

[6.] Q. Do you think there will be any opportunity or chance, Mr. President, of ever establishing a consulate in eastern Germany? Mr. McCloy made a statement about that this morning.

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer the question.

Q. Do you think it would be advantageous, or should be done?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer the question. I don't know. We don't recognize eastern Germany.

Q. You don't think we will for a long while?

THE PRESIDENT. How can we, if we can't have a united Germany?

[7.] Q. Sir, would you say something about our policy toward the United Nations?

THE PRESIDENT. It hasn't changed a bit. Our policy has been exactly the same from the beginning. We are responsible for the establishment of the United Nations, and we are supporting it with everything we have got.

Q. Would that be true of each of these individual areas when we are in the minority rather than in the majority?

THE PRESIDENT. It will be the same, now and forever, if I have anything to do with it.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, in view of the current trend in China, under what circumstances would we recognize the Communist regime there?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't go into that. I hope we will not have to recognize it.

Q. An alternative question then, what plan do we have for support of the Nationalist government in its present state?

THE PRESIDENT. I have plans, but they are not for publication.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, this 81st Congress doesn't look so bad, does it?

THE PRESIDENT. No. It is going to be all right. You see, it's only half through. Look at the 80th Congress for the first session and see the difference! You can't compare the first session of the 80th to the 81st. When you get through with the 81st, put them together.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to say anything about the farm bill?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't seen it. I haven't analyzed it. I will give you my answer when I make up my mind to sign or veto it, whichever I am going to do.

Q. It looks good to me from Senator Lucas on the Hill.

THE PRESIDENT. You're a Farm Bureau columnist, that's what you are. [Laughter] They've got you in tow.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, the British seem to be struggling with their economic difficulties as much as before, and don't seem to be able to find any way out of it.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that's their business, not ours.

Q. Any assistance in terms of loans?

THE PRESIDENT. That's their business, not ours. I am not running Great Britain, and don't propose to try to run it.

Q. Mr. President, are you contemplating any financial help, in addition to what they have got?

THE PRESIDENT. No.

Q. Any loans to the colonies?

THE PRESIDENT. No. No.

[12.] Q. Are you going to speak in New York before the elections?

THE PRESIDENT. I am going to speak at the cornerstone laying of the United Nations on the 24th of October, that's the only speech.

Mr. Hillman: Well, Mr. President, I think we have taxed you sufficiently. Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT. I like to talk with you. I like to talk with you.

Mr. Hillman: Everything is entirely off the record, nothing for attribution, or anything.

THE PRESIDENT, The situation is difficult, all over the world. It has been a difficult one ever since April 12, 1945, when I became the president. I have tried with everything I have to meet every situation as it has come up, and we are still running it, and we are going to continue to run it. Don't let things worry you !

[13.] Q. Do you still feel the same way about that proposed meeting between the heads of states that Senator McMahon suggested the other day after your announcement that there might be a meeting between yourself and the Soviet Prime Minister?

THE PRESIDENT. Can you think of anything that can be accomplished, except what I told the old gentleman who wanted to make peace?

Q. I think that Senator McMahon has changed it, by the way. I called on him yesterday and he said he would only consider it favorably now if you were permitted to talk to the Russian people, but he was a little indefinite.

[14] THE PRESIDENT [addressing H. V. Kaltenborn]. When are you going to put on a show for me? [Laughter]

Mr. Kaltenborn: I ought to be at your service most any time.

THE PRESIDENT. I understand we are going to have a dinner soon?

Q. February--all right, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Put him on! [More laughter]

Q. All right, sir, we'll entertain you.

Q. Have Kaltenborn do a back platform speech?

THE PRESIDENT. I will tell you who can give you some good instructions, our second in command of the Secret Service--

Q. Nick.2

THE PRESIDENT. Nick will tell him.

2 Henry J. Nicholson.

Mr. Kaltenborn: I will need a teacher, as I am not as good a natural actor as you are, Mr. President.

Q. You did a marvelous job.

Mr. Kaltenborn: That is why it was so good.

THE PRESIDENT. There wasn't any disrespect.

Mr. Kaltenborn: No, indeed.

Mr. Hillman: Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT. It's nice to have you here. I appreciate it very much.

Q. Mr. President, is the Vice President going to get married soon?

THE PRESIDENT. You will have to ask him. We have always suspected it, but I can't answer definitely.

Note: The President spoke in his office at the White House at 12:40 p.m. The meeting is carded in the White House Official Reporter's records as the President's two hundred and second news conference.

Harry S. Truman, The President's Special Conference With the Association of Radio News Analysts. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230207

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