Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

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Harry S. Truman
1945-1953


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Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.
  211. The President's News Conference  
December 12, 1945

THE PRESIDENT. [1.] I have received a report from Mr. Snyder, head of OWMR, on the housing situation, which will be handed to you. It is a mimeographed sheet of three pages, and recommends the appointment of a Housing Expediter to carry out the suggestions which he makes to me and which I have approved.

And I am appointing the Honorable Wilson Wyatt, former Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, to that position; and a copy of my letter to him, and Mr. Snyder's report, are available for you.

Q. Mr. President, does that reinstitute priority controls on building materials?

THE PRESIDENT. Eventually it will.

Q. Eventually it will?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. It is completely explained in there.

Q. Could you give us a brief resume, in 20 well-chosen words, Mr. President? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, if you are going to insist on having something read to you--well, I will do that.

[Reading] "The first step is a program for speeding up release of surplus housing units and building materials, held by the Government. It is ready to operate.

"This program makes immediately available to the States and local communities surplus Government property suitable for housing, including Army and Navy barracks and dormitories. Wherever possible these facilities, many of which are near crowded cities, will be utilized on their present sites to house veterans and their families."

That's the first one.

[Continuing reading] "The second step is a regulation which is now being prepared and which should be released before the middle of the month, establishing priorities on building materials.

"In general terms, this regulation will establish such priorities for single or multiple dwelling housing units costing $10,000 or less per unit. This will mean that about 50 percent of all building materials will be channeled into this type of building. The balance will be available for commercial, industrial, higher-priced dwelling, and all other construction--public and private.

"The third step relates to ceiling prices on old and new housing. Sharp increases in the price of housing already have occurred. The threat of inflation in this field is the most menacing in our economy, and we are using all the powers that have been granted the Administration to combat it."

It goes into further explanation on each one of those, with the preliminary statement of why it is done.

[Continuing reading] "First, to increase the supply of building materials; second, to strengthen inventory controls to prevent hoarding; third, to strengthen price controls over building materials; fourth, to discourage unsound lending practices and speculation; fifth, to enlist industry support in increasing production and fighting inflation; and sixth, to provide information and advisory service on home values to the public."

And you have all that entirely and completely set out in this memorandum.1

1 The full text of Mr. Snyder's memorandum was released by the White House.

Q. Mr. President, are those price ceilings operative right away?

THE PRESIDENT. Just as soon as we can get the orders out.

Q. You don't have to have OPA come in on that at all?

THE PRESIDENT. It will be--yes, yes.

Q. Mr. President, no legislation will be necessary on it?

THE PRESIDENT. No, because this is under the War Powers Act--this is under the War Powers Act, although we are supporting certain legislation which is explained in here that will help implement that. 2

2 After the news conference the White House issued a release clarifying the President's reply as follows:

"The President made this reply under a misapprehension. Legislation is necessary to fix Price ceilings. The memorandum issued today points that out on Page 3, Section 3,

"Legislation is not necessary for the establishment of priorities on building materials; and, as indicated in Section 2, on Page 3 of the memorandum, priorities are being set up under the War Powers Act without legislation.

"The President in answering the question was under the impression that the question referred to priorities rather than price ceilings,"

[2.] Then, I am appointing the fact finding board for the General Motors strike: Judge Walter Parker Stacy; Lloyd K. Garrison, chairman of the War Labor Board; and Milton S. Eisenhower, president of the Kansas State College, in Manhattan.

Q. Just a minute--Milton S. Eisenhower, what's he president --

THE PRESIDENT. President of Kansas State College, in Manhattan-that's an agricultural college in Kansas. Lloyd Garrison, who heads the War Labor Board, and Judge Stacy was chairman of the

Q. Mr. President, may I ask you a question?

THE PRESIDENT. Certainly.

Q. This General Motors thing--as you probably know, labor has put up an.--

Q. Louder.

Q.--argument that the fact finding--

THE PRESIDENT. Say that again.

Q. I say that I am asking--saying to the President that, as he probably knows, labor objects to the idea of fact finding boards, with their argument being that they could string out the time of the fact finding to an interminable degree. I thought possibly this might be a good time to ask you a question about that, what your comment is on it?

THE PRESIDENT. My comment is that it is specifically stated in the message that the fact finding period should be 20 days--5 days to get .ready, and 5 days after the 20 days--making up 30 days altogether; so this fact finding program can't last more than 20 days.

Q. Is it somewhere in your proposal--do you not authorize them to have more time if they want it?

THE PRESIDENT. If it is absolutely essential.

Q. You know what I am talking about?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. It has been brought up that it was a device for stopping all labor--

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think it is any such device. It is merely a program for the purpose of finding out exactly what the conditions are on labor's side and on management's side, and then making a recommendation that is fair to the public. That's the principle of the thing.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, in connection with the inflationary aspects of the real estate market, are you also looking into the very active stock market now?

THE PRESIDENT. I hadn't been looking into it. In fact, I have had so many things to think about that I hadn't looked at the stock market, because I have never been interested in the stock market personally.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, will this fact finding board have the right to go into the company's books?

THE PRESIDENT. Not without legislation. I am of the opinion that people will want to cooperate with the President of the United States in an effort to settle these strikes in the public interest.

Q. You expect the company to open its books?

THE PRESIDENT. I expect cooperation from both sides.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, will you appoint a fact finding board for steel?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I shall.

Q. When will you announce that?

THE PRESIDENT. Just as quickly as we can get it ready.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, in addition to criticism of the labor program, there have been some personal attacks on you. I wonder if you could say how you regarded those?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't even read them. I am not interested in them.

I don't think there's any truth in them, so why worry about them. I have been attacked before.

[7.]. Q-We have received some reports that Senator Maybank might be appointed to some diplomatic post, specifically Brazil--a possibility of a vacancy there?

THE PRESIDENT. News to me. That's the first I have heard of it.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, I have been asked to inquire when the Marines will be taken out of China?

THE PRESIDENT. The Marines will be taken out of China when our surrender terms with Japan have been carried out. At a later time, when General Marshall starts for China, I shall announce a complete policy for the guidance of General Marshall; and I will announce it here at a press conference.

[9.] Q. To get back to labor, Mr. President, I believe in your message you asked that the enabling legislation be passed before the Christmas recess.

THE PRESIDENT. I did.

Q. Indications on the Hill now are that action will not be completed by the time for the recess. Are you doing anything to expedite that?

THE PRESIDENT. My best information is that it will be completed.

Q. It will be before the recess?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. Do you take into consideration the possibility of a great deal of conversation on the subject in the Senate?

THE PRESIDENT. The Senate is always entitled to conversation. That's one of the reasons for the existence of the Senate. [Laughter] That's the only legislative body left in the world with unlimited debate, and under no circumstances would I limit that debate. I have been a Senator, and I know what it means for a Senator not to be able to say what he pleases. [Laughter]

[10.] I have another appointment here that I think you will be interested in. I am appointing Michael W. Straus who was the First Assistant Secretary of the Interior, to succeed Harry W. Bashore, who has passed the retirement age and is retiring from the Reclamation Board. Mr. Straus will be Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation.

Q. Does that interfere with his present job at all, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. He is resigning as Assistant Secretary of the Interior to take this job.

Q. How does Mr. Bashore spell his name?

THE PRESIDENT. I will spell it for you. I have got it right here: B-a-s-h-o-r-e. His name is Harry W.

Q. Mr. President, Mike is a very close associate of Mr. Harold Ickes. Should we take that move as any indication of a move on Mr. Ickes' part in the future?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think so. He is a very capable person and has done an excellent job as Assistant Secretary, and comes to me highly recommended by everybody in connection with the thing; and so I appointed him. That's a job that needs to be well done.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, can you give us any hint as to what you are going to do about this bill turning over the USES to the States?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't seen the bill yet. It hasn't been presented to me. When it comes up to me I will make an announcement on it, as soon as I have had a chance to study it.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on Secretary Byrnes' departure for Moscow today?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think it's necessary for me to make any comment. That trip was planned a long time ago. It's a part of the program as set out at Yalta for the foreign ministers of Russia, Great Britain, and the United States to meet at least every 4 months. It was just due now to meet in Moscow; and the next meeting will be held in Washington--probably March or April.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, this is a frivolous question, but what are you going to do for Christmas?

THE PRESIDENT. What am I going to do at Christmas?

Q. We keep getting messages from our editors. Are you going to be here?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I am not going to be here. The family will leave for home about the 18th, and I shall fly home for Christmas dinner on Christmas Day, as I have done in the past.

Q. Are you going to eat your regular three turkey dinners on Christmas that you used to?

THE PRESIDENT. If they are available, I certainly am. [Laughter]

Q. Let's see, you usually eat one with your mother, and one with your wife's mother--

THE PRESIDENT. That's right. And one with my aunt, who is 96 years old.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

NOTE: President Truman's thirty-eighth at the White House at 10:05 a.m. on news conference was held in his office Wednesday, December 12, 1945.
 
Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.