|202. The President's News Conference|
November 29, 1945 |
THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I have just signed an Executive order, seizing the facilities of the Great Lakes Towing Company of Cleveland, Ohio, because of a labor dispute.
Q. Great Lakes--
THE PRESIDENT. --Towing Company of Cleveland, Ohio. The mimeographed order is available when you leave here.
Q. Who takes it over, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT. The ODT--Office of Defense Transportation.
[2.] I have named the following persons to the Interstate Commerce Commission as reappointments. William E. Lee of Idaho--
Q. William E.--
Q. Is that L-e-e?
THE PRESIDENT. L-e-e. And William J. Patterson of North Dakota-both Republicans, and reappointments.
And I have named Lynn U. Stambaugh of North Dakota as a Republican Director on the Export-Import Bank.
All the appointments seem to be nonpartisan this morning. [Laughter]
Q. Lynn U. Stambaugh?
THE PRESIDENT. Lynn U. Stambaugh.
Q. Former National Commander, American Legion.
THE PRESIDENT. Lynn U. Stambaugh of the Legion, I believe, is the rest of it.
Q. Does that leave one more vacancy?
THE PRESIDENT. There is still one more Republican vacancy.
Q. One Democratic, isn't there? No?
THE PRESIDENT. No. The Democrats have all been filled. Martin, the other day, was just made Chairman of that Export-Import Bank; and it is, in my opinion, one of the most important organizations we have for the welfare of the country and the world.
Q. That means, Mr. President, that Mr. Crowley is definitely not coming back to Government service?
THE PRESIDENT. That's what it means. At least not in that capacity.
[3.] I have got a statement here that will be interesting to you. It will--you will be furnished with mimeographed copies as you go out.
[Reading, not literally] "The first 100 days of reconversion. We have made the following progress:
"On manpower. The great part of the layoffs from war plants has now been completed, except in the shipyards. And employment in non-war activities has increased since V-J Day. Total employment has now returned to the V-J Day level and is expected to continue to rise.
"Unemployment, so far, is less than had been expected. This means that the disruption of our economy has been less drastic than anticipated. However, we are still in a transition period. The rapid demobilization of the armed forces will undoubtedly increase the unemployment total over the next few months.
"During these first 100 days, 3,500,000 men and women have been demobilized. We have stepped up the rate to 50,000 a day, and expect to continue at this pace.
"Plant reconversion."--And this is exceedingly interesting, in view of some of the things that have been said.--"The job of reconverting our plants from war to peace is virtually completed. Ninety-three percent of all plants have been cleared in 60 days or less after request."
Q. Ninety-three percent?
THE PRESIDENT [continuing reading, not literally]. "Ninety-three percent have been cleared in 60 days or less after request. Two-thirds of these plants were cleared in 40 days or less. Twenty-seven billion dollars' worth of war contracts have been canceled since the surrender of Japan. Approximately one-third of the 122,000 war contracts canceled since V-J Day have been settled.
"Lifting of wartime controls. All war manpower controls were lifted the day after Japan surrendered. OPA has removed several hundred items from price control, removed all rationing except sugar and tires, and completed the pricing of reconversion goods almost 100 percent. OPA has reduced orders and regulations on its books to 55 from a wartime peak of 650. ODT has 14 orders standing, as compared with 3,050 during the war. About 85 percent of wartime export controls have been lifted, and 75 percent of wartime import controls.
"Production. Most peacetime products are already in production or ready to roll. The metal-working trades on which we depend for most of our consumer durable goods are in such shape that they expect by the middle of 1946 to ship goods at two and one-half times the 1939 rate.
"Business continues good. Here are some indications:
"Retail sales are up 10 percent now as compared with the same period last year; steel ingot production is back to 82 percent capacity today as compared with 60 percent capacity right after V-J Day; electric power production now is only 14 percent below the wartime peak."
Now I am going to read you some official--official Labor Department figures.
[Continuing reading, not literally] "There has been an upsurge of strikes since V-J Day. The increase has been due in part to the fact that all parties held their grievances in check during the war and observed the no-strike pledge. New strikes since August total approximately 1,500, involving about 1,500,000 workers. During the same time 924 strikes were averted, involving about 400,000 workers; and 868 strikes were settled through the Conciliation Service of the Labor Department, involving more than 525,000 workers. Labor dispute
cases settled through November 24th numbered 2,821, involving about
1,150,000 workers. Time lost through work stoppages since August is estimated at 0.76 of 1 percent of the total working time available.
"The cost of living--according to the figures customarily used for that purpose--has declined 0.3 of 1 percent since the surrender of Japan, as compared with a rise of approximately 1.3 percent in a comparable period after the last war. Some of the decrease this time, however, is due to seasonable decrease in some food prices. Direct controls over wages and salaries have been removed in most fields, but increases have not been allowed to affect price ceilings or costs to the United States, except in some specific and narrowly defined cases to correct maladjustments or inequities.
"Inflationary pressures are still great, and danger signals pointing to a further building up through the winter and spring are the rise of real estate, wholesale, and raw materials prices. We must continue to hold the line. We cannot permit inflation."
Now, while this is a good report, we must be sure that we are still in the midst of reconversion, and we must do everything in our power to prevent this inflationary pressure from taking the advantage of us under these conditions.
I have read you these figures to indicate to you that the administration has not been asleep on the job, and we shall continue to do everything in our power to go forward with this reconversion program on the basis which we anticipated to begin with. We are way ahead of schedule. But bear in mind that the difficulties we are facing are just as great as they have ever been in the history of the country.
Now I am ready for questions.
Q. Mr. President, in connection with that statement itself, hasn't the Advisory Board of the War Mobilization expressed some trepidation about the possibility of deflation as well as inflation?
THE PRESIDENT. That's true.
Q. I suppose that is taken into consideration--
THE PRESIDENT. That is taken into consideration.
Q.--in the general reconversion program?
THE PRESIDENT. That's right. We are trying to prevent deflation just as much as inflation.
Q. Do you regard that danger as anywhere near the danger of inflation?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I do not.
[4.] Q. Mr. President, Mr. Ross yesterday indicated we may expect those appointments to the Anglo-American Commission for investigation of the Palestine situation today.
THE PRESIDENT. They are not ready yet.
Q. Do you expect them today?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I do not.
Q. Mr. President, in that connection if I may ask one more question-some people who have been interested in the Zionist movement said that you gave prior approval, or at least prior acquiescence, to the Wagner resolution on a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine. Did you have any conversation on that subject?
THE PRESIDENT. I had some conversation on that subject, and was not opposed to that situation. I was Vice President then.
Q. Do you still favor the resolution?
THE PRESIDENT. I do not. The conditions have changed. And if that resolution is passed, there isn't any use trying to have a fact finding commission finding facts and making recommendations.
[5.] Q. Mr. President, the same OWMR Advisory Board suggested the other day it would be a good thing--in connection with strikes-it would be a good thing if General Motors sat down and talked things over with the strikers. Do you agree with that?
THE PRESIDENT. I do.
Q. Mr. President, the report does not say very specifically what cost-of-living figures those are.
THE PRESIDENT. The ones that are usually used--the Labor Department's index.
Q. That very controversial one?
THE PRESIDENT. The very controversial one. It's the only one we have.
Q. The same one.
THE PRESIDENT. The only official one we have.
Q. Mr. President, you said that you are anticipating, perhaps, a rise in real estate prices next winter. There were discussions of some controls to be placed on real estate, which I think Mr. Davis had under consideration when he was with the OES.
THE PRESIDENT. They are still under consideration.
Q. They are?
THE PRESIDENT. They are. It is the most difficult thing to try to get controls that will work. That is difficult.
[6.] Q. Mr. President, I wonder if you could also discuss the problem of the first 100 days of reconversion on the international front? I mean specifically that in the squabbles of Hurley, and the debates on the United Nations Organization, and the discussions of UNRRA on the Hill, all through it there seems to be running a thread containing two fears: one, an unholy fear that Russia will not cooperate with the other nations, and second--
THE PRESIDENT. That's a fear--[ inaudible words].
Q. --second, a fear that noncooperation on the part of Russia will eventually lead to war. Do you share either of those fears, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. I do not, and I will discuss that situation at a later date, fully and completely.
Q. In a message to Congress, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. No, not necessarily. That may be at a press conference. When the turmoil gets hot enough, I will talk with you about it.
Q. Don't you think it's very hot now? [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. Well, it's stirred up. We should let it settle a little bit.
[7.] Q. Mr. President, what would be the effect of a great strike on this reconversion schedule?
THE PRESIDENT. It would hold it back, of course.
Q. What would the administration do to prevent such a strike?
THE PRESIDENT. I will handle that situation when it appears before me.
[8.] Q. Mr. President, on the Palestine question, has an agreement been reached, at least on how many members each government will have?
THE PRESIDENT. We will hope to reach that agreement today. I think maybe the Secretary of State will announce it.
[9.] Q. Byron Price in his report recommended a revision of the Potsdam Declaration. Would you approve of that?
THE PRESIDENT. I would. But that requires a four-power agreement in order to make that revision.
Q. Are any steps being taken--
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
Q.--in that direction to change it?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. We will make an effort to approach the situation.
Q. You mean by "we"--you mean our Government alone?
THE PRESIDENT. Our Government alone ? Well, I can't answer that, because it is still in the negotiating stage.
Q. Mr. President, do you mean revision of the entire Potsdam Declaration, or just certain phases?
THE PRESIDENT. Certain phases of it.
Q. Where they apply to the four-power control of Germany?
THE PRESIDENT. That's right. It's--it's a detail proposition that will have to be worked out on the ground by the four powers.
Q. Could you, at this time, throw any light on those efforts at revision?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I can't.
Q. Mr. President, are you doing anything to try and change that veto plan that is in the four-power control, where one member can veto--
THE PRESIDENT. That is one of the things that will be under discussion.
Q. Will that be done in another Big Three conference, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. No, sir, it will not. I am not in favor of special conferences, because I want to see the United Nations do its job. The League of Nations was ruined by a lot of special conferences. I am not in favor of special conferences, and never have been.
Q. The suggestion for elimination of the veto power is wholly American then, I take it?
THE PRESIDENT. No, not necessarily. I can't answer those questions intelligently, because it's a matter of negotiation, and I don't want to be specific because it might ruin the negotiations.
Q. Mr. President, is the United Nations Organization raising the point whether it can take over these--
THE PRESIDENT. It will, very shortly.
Q. How soon do you anticipate--
THE PRESIDENT. I think some time in the next 90 days--I hope.
Q. And that will obviate a three-power conference?
THE PRESIDENT. That's what that United Nations is for; and I want to see it work, and we are behind it wholeheartedly to see that it does work.
Q. Do you think other nations are equally behind it, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT. I think so. Most of them are, I think.
Q. Would you make any exceptions?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I wouldn't make any exceptions because I can't speak for the other nations. They must speak for themselves.
[10.] Q. Mr. President, has the Anglo-American financial conference concluded its work?
THE PRESIDENT. No, they have not.
Q. Are you--do you believe that it will be concluded successfully?
THE PRESIDENT. I do, of course.
[11.] Q. Mr. President, have you received the resignation of Danny Bell as Under Secretary of the Treasury?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't think so. I have a drawer full of resignations here--[laughter]--a lot of which I have refused to accept, and some of which I have had to accept. I don't know whether his is in there or not.
Q. Would you care to tell us about some of them?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I wouldn't. I will tell you about them as they come up.
Q. Mr. President, are those on the top shelf, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT. No.
Q. Mr. President, when was the Hurley resignation put in the drawer?
THE PRESIDENT. It was put in the drawer this morning. It just reached me this morning only.
Q. Mr. President, what do you think of the various accusations Ambassador Hurley made as he quit?
THE PRESIDENT. I would rather not express an opinion on the matter.
[12.] Q. Can you tell us, sir, the instructions under which General Marshall is going to China, as a result of your conversation yesterday?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I cannot, because they are still being worked out. I will give them to you in toto whenever that is accomplished.
Q. Is that appointment a temporary--
THE PRESIDENT. He is Special Envoy to China for a special job, and it is temporary.
Q. Mr. President, on the question of instructions to Marshall, does that mean he will get a directive which will be published--on a new statement of policy?
THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that intelligently yet. He will go and carry out the policy which we have always had in China. We might state it more specifically than it has been stated.
Q. Could you state that policy briefly, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I will not. [Laughter]
[13.] Q. Do you anticipate that there will be any need for further Big Three conferences at any time?
THE PRESIDENT. If the United Nations Organization works as it should, there shouldn't be any reason for a Big Three conference or any other sort of conference outside the United Nations.
Q. Yes, sir.
[14.] Q. Mr. President, it seems to me Senator Fulbright said the awfullest thing about the administration when he said that your foreign policy was just "playing by ear."
THE PRESIDENT. Well, Senator Fulbright has a right to his opinion the same as I have a right to mine.
Q. But as a musician--
THE PRESIDENT. I think it's playing by music.
[15.] Q. Mr. President, have you any indication as to when Mr. Marshall will leave?
THE PRESIDENT. Very shortly, in 3 or 4 days.
Q. Will that give the Pearl Harbor investigating committee a chance--
THE PRESIDENT. That is up to them.
[16.] Q. Mr. President, who are you betting on, on Saturday--Army or Navy? [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. I am neutral. [Laughter]
Q. You have to be.
THE PRESIDENT. I have to be neutral. One half is Army, and the other half is Navy.
Q. Does that neutrality go for the Army and Navy fight on unification, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT. I will make an announcement on that very shortly.
Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.
NOTE: President Truman's thirty-fifth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 10:05 a.m. on Thursday, November 29, 1945. The White House Official Reporter noted that Mrs. Truman and Margaret Truman attended this conference.
Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project. John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.