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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.
  2. The President's News Conference  
January 3, 1952

THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.

[1.] For your information, I shall deliver the State of the Union Message on Wednesday, January 9, at 12:30.1 That is the day after the day that Congress meets. I have been in touch with the Vice President and the Speaker and that day--and hour-is agreeable to them.

1See Item 5.

I will try to answer questions, if you have any.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, would you be agreeable, sir, to have the public visit the White House before you and the First Lady move in?

THE PRESIDENT. No. [Laughter] I would not. The White House, after we move in and get settled, will be open to the public on nearly every day at the regular hour, and the public will have ample chance to see it. We don't expect to have any housewarming, except when we move in. We will heat it up then and see how it works. [Laughter]

[3.] Q. Mr. President, after you set up the commission to study the health needs of the Nation,2 Dr. Cline, the president of the American Medical Association, had quite a lot to say about it. He opposed the idea and said that he thought you were misusing emergency funds by setting up this commission. I wonder if you have any comment ?

2 See 1951 volume, this series, Item 307.

THE PRESIDENT. He is entitled to think anything he wants to, but I have got a little statement that I want to read you about it, which covers it.

[Reading] "I established the Commission on the Health Needs of the Nation because I want to see to it that the health of our people is protected and that sick people receive adequate medical care." Which they are not doing now.

"The purpose of the Commission is to study the facts and to give us the recommendations of high-calibre professional and lay persons. Their findings will help the public to get rid of the confusion that has grown up as a result of the bitter attacks upon any constructive measures I have supported to bring adequate health care to all our people. The fact that we lost over 500 million man-days of work due to illness in the last fiscal year is evidence enough that we must keep fighting the drain on our strength due to sickness and disease.

"I appointed as Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Paul Magnuson, an eminent surgeon whose reputation for integrity and devotion to the public service are absolutely unquestionable. Every one of the other 14 members of the Commission was recommended to me by Dr. Magnuson. I would not have asked the doctor to serve on the Commission under any other arrangement. Every one of the 14 members had indicated a willingness to serve prior to the public announcement of the establishment of the Commission.

"The sole purpose of my Commission was to get representative opinions from both the medical profession and the lay public on the best means for alleviating the suffering of millions of Americans. The only condition on the selection of the Commission was a willingness on the part of each member to approach each problem with an open mind and weigh the facts and to suggest solutions to the problems. The Commission will operate in this framework and will have its first meeting in Washington next week." 3

3A White House press release of January 15, 1952, stated in part, "The President's Commission on the Health Needs of the Nation, under the Chairmanship of Dr. Magnuson, completed its first session at noon today. The day and a half meeting was devoted largely to a discussion of the assignment given the commission by the President, which is to make a critical study of the total health requirements of the Nation, and to recommend courses of action to meet those needs ....

"The position of the American Medical Association was discussed at length by the commission, who felt that inasmuch as the other members of the commission did not officially represent any group, it is understandable that the American Medical Association did not wish to be officially represented. Therefore, it was agreed that another doctor should be added to the commission who was familiar with the policies of the American Medical Association but who would not officially represent that Association as a body."

See also Item 369.

Q. Mr. President, the doctor who declined to serve is Dr. Gundersen. 4 Is that the doctor you refer to there, when you said the doctor?

THE PRESIDENT. Dr. Magnuson is the only one I refer to in here. Every time I said doctor, it was Dr. Magnuson.

4on December 30, 1951, Dr. Gunnar Gundersen of LaCrosse, Wis., member of the Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association, requested that his name be removed from the list of appointees to the President's Commission on the Health Needs of the Nation.

Q. But you said all 14 had agreed to serve?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. Fifteen, including Dr. Magnuson.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, that's correct.

[4.] Q. There is a report in the morning papers, sir, that Attorney General McGrath has signified in writing to you his desire to be relieved of the post of Attorney General ?

THE PRESIDENT. Well now, I want--

Q. Can't hear--can't hear the question.

THE PRESIDENT. He asked me about Mr. McGrath.

In response to all questions regarding continued drastic action--including "Is McGrath resigning?"--I propose the following: I am not going to answer that question. [Laughter] There have been so many rumors, I can't possibly answer all of them. I made an announcement yesterday regarding the reorganization of the Bureau of Internal Revenue.5 When I am ready, I will make further announcements. Until then I have nothing to say.

5See Item 1

Q. You said there have been so many rumors. What rumors, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. There have been so many rumors made I can't possibly spend my time answering those rumors. And it seems to me that announcements of that sort ought to come from the President of the United States. And when I get ready to make any announcements, I have always told you, and told you in plenty of time so that you can get it in the next day's paper, or that day's paper, if we have a morning press conference.

Q. Mr. President, you said that you would not answer questions on people resigning. Does that bar questions of that sort on McGrath ?

THE PRESIDENT. That bars questions that have any bearing on that subject at all.

Q. Mr. President, there is a rumor, but not about Mr. McGrath, and that is you will accede to the long-standing desire of Mr. Symington to get out of Government service very soon? 6

THE PRESIDENT. He wants to get out, and I think probably some time this month I will accept his resignation.

6W. Stuart Symington resigned as Administrator of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation on February 15, 1952.

Q. This month, sir ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

Q. Also a report that there was something curious about the rather speedy acceptance of the resignation of his number two man, Mr. Bukowski. 7 Do you have any comment on that ?

THE PRESIDENT. It was accepted strictly at his request, and on the date on which he requested that it be accepted.

7Peter I. Bukowski resigned as Deputy Administrator of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation on December 31, 1951.

[5.] Q. Mr. President, there is another one of these rumors, on Capitol Hill, that you have this time deferred the State Department and Labor Department--have you asked them not to negotiate a new labor agreement with Mexico pending congressional action on your message to Congress on the migratory labor?

THE PRESIDENT. I made an agreement with the President of Mexico last year, that the Congress would act in regard to that labor agreement, and unless the Congress does act, there will be no agreement with Mexico.

Q. You said you have an agreement with the President of Mexico ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I had an agreement with the President of Mexico that the matter would be submitted to the Congress for action, and unless they take the necessary action, there will be no negotiations with the Government of Mexico.

Q. Mr. president, I was so busy writing "there will be no negotiations." About what, sir? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. About the labor situation--

Q. The migratory--

THE PRESIDENT. down in the Southwest.

[6.] Q. Mr. President, Representative Hays8 told us yesterday that you had told him you hoped to be able to announce by February 6th your political plans for this year. Would you be able to enlighten us further ?

THE PRESIDENT. I am very sorry I can't give you any enlightenment on that. I will tell you when I am ready.

8 Representative Wayne L. Hays of Ohio.

Q. Well, Mr. President, did you give Mr. McKinney9 to understand that you would tell him by the first of March whether you would run or not ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I did not. I have given nobody to understand anything about any date with regard to that. I know what I am going to do, as I told you before, and when I get ready I will announce it.

9Frank E. McKinney, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

[7.] Q. Sir, there are reports that--in certain parts of your administration that the pending visit of Mr. Churchill is less than welcome, that it is considered a nuisance, or an imposition. Have you any comment?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Churchill is very welcome. And I will extend to him as hearty a welcome as I know how to give to any visitor. There are a number of important things that we can discuss, and discuss profitably to both of us. And I am glad he is coming.

I don't know where all such foolish things as that originate.

Q. Can you give us a rundown on some of the economic things or political things you might be discussing?

THE PRESIDENT. I have a complete agenda, and it is not to be made public. We will issue a communique after the conferences are over, and you will be informed on exactly what took place. 10

10 See Items 616.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, could you tell us something about your conference this morning with the Bolivian Ambassador on the tin situation?

THE PRESIDENT. He just talked with me about tin. I listened. [Laughter]

[9.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Kefauver said today that he would like to get an invitation to have a heart-to-heart talk with you about politics. Is he likely to get such an invitation ?

THE PRESIDENT. I will talk with anybody-any Senator or any Member of the House of Representatives--on politics or any other subject they want to talk about.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, have you added subjects to the agenda for the Churchill talks, or as a visitor has he any agenda, any specific things which you wish to talk to him about ?

THE PRESIDENT. Whenever I go to a conference, or whenever I anticipate a conference, I always have an agenda. And I have one now.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, Chairman Doughton11 said today that he thought your plan to reorganize the Internal Revenue Bureau might encounter what he called "much opposition." What do you think of that?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think much of it. [Laughter] I think it's a good plan, and I think it ought to go through.

11Representative Robert L. Doughton of North Carolina, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

[12.] Q. Mr. President, did I understand that you would probably accept Mr. Symington's resignation toward the end of the month?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't say toward the end of the month. I said some time this month.



Q. Some time. Does that indicate a change in the RFC policy on this tin situation?

THE PRESIDENT. Has nothing to do with any policy. Mr. Symington has been trying to get out of the Government for a year and a half.

Q. Do you have a successor for him, sir, to that RFC post?

THE PRESIDENT. I will make the announcement at the proper time.

[13.] Q. Mr. President, had the Bureau of Internal Revenue reorganization plan been on your desk for some time before the announcement was made?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. It had been under consideration ever since the Hoover report. 12 There has been some violent opposition to it in the Congress, and we have been trying to overcome that opposition. We finally, I think, have gotten around to the point where an acceptable program is in the making and will go down to the Congress, and I am sure that they will approve.

12The report on the Department of the Treasury by the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government is dated March 1949 (Government Printing Office, 1949, 37 pp.). President Herbert Hoover was Chairman of the Commission which was terminated on June 12, 1949.

Q. It antedates, then, the King 13 subcommittee hearings?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I told you it originated with the Hoover report, some 2 years ago, and has been under consideration ever since.

13Representative Cecil R. King of California, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Administration of Internal Revenue Laws.

Q. What was the question ?

Joseph H. Short (Secretary to the President): He said antedate, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. What's that?

Mr. Short: He said did it antedate the King hearings.

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, yes. I thought he said did it date from the King subcommittee hearings. It dates from the time of the Hoover report.

Q. Mr. President, what was the nature of the opposition? They objected to your not making the collectors political appointees ?

THE PRESIDENT. They want to keep them political appointees, that's what the difficulty is, and they have raised a good deal of fuss, some of them have, when we fired some of these fellows.

Q. Could you say who had objected to it?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I didn't name any names.

Q. Mr. President, are these Democrats who opposed, or Republicans ?

THE PRESIDENT. Both.

Q. Mr. President, weren't quite a number of the people fired, civil service people?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think they were. There may have been some civil service people that were fired, but most of them were collectors, who are appointees of the President.

[14.] Q. This is the last question on this.--

THE PRESIDENT. That's all right. [Laughter]

Q. --do you see any hope of an early solution of the tin question deadlock?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer the question.

Q. You can't answer the question?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer the question, I said.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, is there anything you can tell us about Korea?

THE PRESIDENT. No, that is not to be commented on at the present time. We are in the same position, almost, as we were at the last press conference, 14 and I can make no comment on it.

14See 1951 volume, this series, Item 300 [15].

[16.] Q. Mr. President, you said you spoke to the Speaker about this date for delivery of the State of the Union Message. Did he take up any matters with you--did he report to you on the political situation?

THE PRESIDENT. No. We just discussed the Message on the State of the Union. I will see him as soon as he gets back here. Then we will talk politics, or business, or whatever the Congress wants to talk about.

Q. Mr. President, do you have the dates on those other two messages ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I am not in a position to give you the dates on them yet.

[17.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to say why you wouldn't give us some indication of the nature of the agenda of the talks with Mr. Churchill?

THE PRESIDENT. Because that is my business.

[18.] Q. Mr. President, I wonder if-whether or not Senator Kefauver has got in touch with you, or you with him, on the possibility of his having a little talk on the political situation ?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't heard from the Senator. He knows how to make an appointment. Mr. Connelly 15 is always on the telephone to answer those things.

15 Matthew J. Connelly, Secretary to the President.

[19.] Mr. Short: Mr. President, most of the people who were discharged were civil service employees--most of them were.

THE PRESIDENT. I see. Mr. Short informs me that most of the people who were discharged in the Internal Revenue Bureau were civil service people, but there were several top ones that were Presidential appointees that were discharged too.

[20.] Q. Mr. President, can I repeat some questions that were asked before--I missed a press conference--I lost track of Judge Murphy. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. What was the question, please?

Q. Sir, did Judge Murphy turn down the appointment to this commission, or did you ask him to take it--what is the situation with regard to Judge Murphy? 16

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't care about answering questions on that line, but Judge Murphy accepted the appointment. Then after he got back to New York, he changed his mind and turned it down.

16Judge Thomas F. Murphy of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York had been selected to head a proposed Presidential commission to probe and curb corruption in Government.

Q. Did he submit any conditions ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, he did not submit any conditions, because I made all the conditions that were necessary before his acceptance.

Q. Mr. President, along that same line, are you still thinking of a substitute for Judge Murphy, or--

THE PRESIDENT. Why, I will not--I don't care about answering that question. That is in the agenda that I said I didn't care to talk about. I will give you all the enlightenment possible as soon as I get around to it.

Merriman Smith, United Press Associations: Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. You're welcome, Smitty.

NOTE: President Truman's two hundred and eighty-eighth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 4:05 p.m. on Thursday, January 3, 1952.
 
Provided courtesy of The American Presidency Project.  John Woolley and Gerhard Peters. University of California, Santa Barbara.