Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Pearson, Drew, 1897-1969; Winchell, Walter, 1897-1972.; Pegler, J. Westbrook (James Westbrook), 1894-1969; Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945; Lawrence, David F., 1888-1973
Presidential salaries; Editorials

Letter from President Harry S. Truman to Frank Kent, February 12, 1949. President's Secretary's Files - Longhand Notes.

Personal & Confidential

February 12, 1949

Mr. Frank Kent, Baltimore Sun

My dear Mr. Kent:

Today I read your piece in the Washington Star of this date on the salary and expense account of the President of the United States. That piece is a most interesting and astonishing document, to say the least that can be said about it.

Your President is responsible for the administration and management of the greatest, most complicated and most expensive organization in the history of the world.

When, on April 12, 1945, your President was inducted into that greatest office in the world, by a simple ceremony in the Cabinet Room at the White House at 7:09 P.M., he inherited two wars. As Chairman of a Senate Committee, he had furnished co-operative help to President Roosevelt which, according to reliable authority, had saved for the taxpayers some fifteen billions of dollars and which service prevented scandal and corruption in sales to and contracts with the Government.

Your President was forced into becoming a candidate for Vice President by President Roosevelt, who made a personal and national and also a Party appeal to the then Senator in charge of the Special Committee referred to, to become the candidate.

Your President knew what he faced. Just eight days short of three months after he became Vice President, the blow fell.

He found himself in the top position of responsibility in all the world. Two wars going at top pace. Both ended within five months-a year and a half ahead of the best guess of the "experts." A budget of 103 billions of dollars had been voted for the fiscal year 1945-46. Sixty-five billions of that authorization were cut off-by the President. Expenditures that year were about 45 billions. The next year's expenditures (46-47) were 33 billions. Twenty-five billions of dollars were paid on the national debt of 277 billions.

Attempts were made for efficiency and economy by sending reorganization plans to the Congress. All rejected but one of minor importance.

An attempt made to utilize Wartime experience to reorganize the military establishment. Same result as the reorganization plans-it was bungled by your 80th Congress.

For working eighteen hours a day every day in the year and for assuming the responsibility, greater than any other dozen men in the world, your President received net pay of $42,000 per year! A most liberal and munificent salary! Probably what you receive for one month's blurbs! From that most liberal salary your President must clothe, and meet regular family expenses-he can't put his wife on the payroll as his secretary as he did in the Senate to meet the "rent" payments--so the Congress votes certain pay and allowances, to meet this extraordinary situation-and you, of all people, have a spasm about it. I'm really surprised because I've always thought you intellectually honest. From Dave Lawrence, Pegler, Pearson, Winchell, I'd expect just such statements as you made-but we know that they are all liars, and intellectually dishonest.

I'm sorry you joined them

Sincerely,

Harry S. Truman


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