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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 29, 2007

Press Briefing by Tony Snow
White House Conference Center Briefing Room

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1:09 P.M. EST

MR. SNOW: All right. As all of you know, the President is going to be highlighting the strength of the economy over the next couple of days. First, there will be a visit to Peoria, Illinois. He'll visit the Caterpillar headquarters and speak to employees, highlighting, among other things, the benefits of global trade and the way in which free and fair trade have enabled companies like Caterpillar to prosper on the global market.

Then he'll head to New York, the world's leading financial center, and deliver a speech on the state of the economy. He will deliver the New York speech at Federal Hall, where I believe George Washington took the oath of office, and Alexander Hamilton held forth as Treasury Secretary. The President also -- double check on that one, as well -- the President last was there in October of 2001.

Over the last six years the American economy has had to endure a great deal: recession, September 11th terrorist attacks, the bursting of the technology bubble, devastating hurricanes that have crippled entire regions. We have had corporate scandals, we have had wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and a larger war on terror; we have had an oil shock. And, despite all that, the economy continues to thrive.

And the President is going to talk about how to make sure that we build a basis for future and further prosperity in an increasingly competitive global economic environment that includes giving our kids the intellectual and educational skills they're going to need to compete. It means that we are going to try to reduce reliance on foreign oil. It means that we are also going to try to create better, fairer, more efficient legal and health care systems; deal with our long-term entitlement programs -- that is something that inflicts other industrialized nations; continue to expand free and fair trade and keep taxes low; and allow small businesses to thrive. So that is what the President will be doing the next couple of days -- you are all invited.

Questions.

Q The President said today that the United States would take firm action against Iran if military activities in Iraq threaten Americans. He doesn't seem persuaded that Iran's statement that it's going to become more military involved or in the economy of Iraq as a positive development.

MR. SNOW: Well, again, we'll wait and see whether it's a positive development or not. You're talking about statements to the effect that the Iranians are thinking about opening a series of banks within Iraq, and that they have also offered to do military cooperation.

What we've said is to the extent that anybody -- including Iranians -- are smuggling weapons, bringing in fighters, killing Americans, trying to destabilize the democracy in Iraq, we will take appropriate measures to defend our troops and also to defend the mission.

But the Iranians understand that there's a burden of proof for them, and so it's an interesting statement. As I told you before, we don't have much more on it, and we don't have a lot of detail on it. But the Iraqi government is sovereign and it certainly can make arrangements with its neighbors. And I daresay it's not going to make arrangements that are going to be detrimental to its security or its prosperity.

Q Is that something that the President might talk to the Prime Minister about, to find out where that's going or --

MR. SNOW: Well, I'm sure that there are ongoing conversations. The Prime Minister talks regularly with the ambassador and other officials in Baghdad. I honestly don't know where they stand in terms of those conversations. But they may discuss it.

Q Do you take it at face value that they're trying to help their economy and want to cooperate --

MR. SNOW: Well, we'll just have to see. You don't take -- it's a statement, let's see what actions follow.

Q Tony, if I could follow, just on balance, does the Bush administration see Iran's activities inside of Iraq as more of a positive than a negative?

MR. SNOW: Right now what we are seeing is some evidence that the Iranians have been involved in activities that have led to the deaths of American soldiers and also the deaths of innocent Iraqi civilians -- and to the extent that that kind of activity continues, we will respond appropriately.

What you're asking us to do is to respond to something that hasn't happened. There is a statement of intent and we'll see how they follow through on it. We would certainly welcome Iran to start playing a constructive role in the region. And among other things, they could stop smuggling arms -- or at least contributing arms. They could stop contributing to terrorist organizations. They could stop supporting Hezbollah. They could, in fact, encourage people within the Middle East to promote peaceful negotiations with Israel on a two-state solution. There are a whole series of positive things they can do.

On a separate but equally important track, they could accept the offer that the United States and other nations have made to give them peaceful civil nuclear power in exchange for their renouncing any programs, verifiably, that could lead to the creation of nuclear weapons. And we have certainly extended our hand, in terms of much warmer, more constructive relations should they do so.

Q So it's fair to say the Bush administration still considers Iran's role largely negative inside of Iraq?

MR. SNOW: Again, what we have seen -- I'm going to twist it in a different direction. We would love to see them start playing a positive role.

Q Have you seen anything positive, Tony? I mean, why would you believe this might be a positive role?

MR. SNOW: We don't believe, we just -- as I just said, Martha, let's see what the actions are. You've characterized accurately the situation, which is, we have a statement. Let's see what happens in terms of actions, and then we will assess them.

Q The President is going to talk about trade tomorrow. Does he need -- would he like to have fast-track authority to negotiate trade deals?

MR. SNOW: Absolutely. What he wants to do is to continue to have Trade Promotion Authority; every other President has had it. It is the ability to negotiate a good faith trade agreement without their later being changed by Congress, which means you have to go back to the table and kind of renegotiate. It is an important device in extending free trade and also allowing negotiators to operate effectively. President Clinton used it to positive effect during his presidency, as have prior presidents, and we certainly think it is important that Congress renew it.

Q Will he talk about that tomorrow?

MR. SNOW: I don't know if he's talking about it tomorrow or Thursday, but he will be talking about it -- I mean, tomorrow or Wednesday, but he will talk about it this week.

Helen.

Q What did the President think of the march on Washington?

MR. SNOW: I don't think he really thought a lot about it. It's nice to see Jane Fonda in front of the camera again. There are a number of people who were here making statements, and that's perfectly appropriate. This is a vigorous democracy.

Q You said something earlier this morning, though. Would you like to repeat that?

MR. SNOW: It's simply that there were predictions of a larger audience than showed up for the protest.

Q And you really counted heads?

MR. SNOW: No. Did you? Did you see 100,000?

Q Don't you think we had a good turnout?

MR. SNOW: Honestly, I didn't go there, Helen, so I'm not going to characterize.

Q How do you make a statement like that?

MR. SNOW: Well, because it's pretty clear from the press accounts that nobody attached six figures to the number who appeared.

Q Tony, the President touched briefly in that NPR interview about the actions Sunday in Najaf. What is the feeling inside the White House about what happened over the weekend, these raids, and the prospects for moving forward?

MR. SNOW: Well, what the President also said is we're getting briefed up on them and he had not been fully briefed. So it's a little -- I'm afraid I'm not in a position to comment specifically on it.

But let's talk generally about the kind of action we've been seeing of late within Iraq, which is Iraqi and U.S. forces standing up against those who are trying to commit acts of violence -- at least according to press accounts, and that's all I can go on now, Bret. They were talking about an operation, actually, on Shia and Sunni together, who were trying to commit acts of violence that would disrupt Shia religious observances, much as we saw last year with the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra.

We have seen the kind of impact that sort of action could have, in terms of inflaming sectarian violence. And it is important to go after those who try to commit such acts of violence. So it is certainly the kind of thing we expect to see more of, in terms of U.S. and Iraqi forces in joint operations going after these acts of violence. It also means that somebody had to provide information that was necessary for carrying out the operation.

Ultimately, the Iraqis are going to have to find a way to provide for their own security, and they are going to need to be able to conduct these kind of operations. They will need the intelligence capabilities, they will need the logistical capabilities. They clearly will need the arms and training to do it in a professional manner. So I know it's a very general answer to the question because even now the kinds of reporting we're getting are fluctuating, in terms of casualty counts and exactly where it was and so on, so I don't want to be too specific because, frankly, we don't have the specifics yet.

Q Follow on a different track -- politics. Senator Clinton in Iowa talking about the war said, "The President has said that this war is going to be left to his successor. He's said that on more than one occasion. I really resent that. This was his decision to go to war." And she described it as "the height of irresponsibility."

MR. SNOW: All right, well, expect a lot of "can you top this" rhetoric early on, on the campaign trail. But let's talk about the merits of the case, as well. Senator Clinton voted to authorize action in Iraq. And Senator Clinton, in many cases, has stood with the President, including providing funding for our forces there. The real question here is, the United States Senate that voted 81 to nothing -- I think that was the vote -- for General Petraeus, now it ought to go ahead and supply what he needs in terms of reinforcements and resources for finishing the job in Iraq.

But, more importantly, you've got ask yourself, what do you really want. If you want American forces out of Iraq, probably the best way to do that is to support the President and support the combatant commanders in doing what they say they need. We have seen already, in the wake of the President's announcing a new way forward, a shift in the way people are behaving in Iraq. We have seen -- apparently some terror groups are making their ways out of Baghdad. You've seen a direct change in the public stance of Muqtada al Sadr. You have also seen very good signs of determination on the part of Prime Minister Maliki, not only in terms of public statements, but also in terms of operations that have been aimed at Shia and Sunni organizations that seem to be working to undermine the government.

And it's important to realize that every time the United States shows strength and determination in operations like this, it makes a difference. After the United States Army went into -- or the U.S. military actually went to Baghdad in three-and-a-half weeks, you saw that Moammar Ghadafi made a calculation about what he thought was in his nation's best interest and decided to stop being part of the problem with terror and started to cooperating with the United States. And you saw in the wake of that a number of nations in the region extending the franchise. You saw the Lebanese putting together the Cedar Revolution.

And as the President also pointed out, last year in the wake of those successes, terrorists decided to fight back. It is important to realize that withdrawal from Iraq without success means that the President would be handing his successor failure. And failure could have dire consequences.

The other thing is when the President talks about handing things to the next President, he's not merely talking about Iraq, he's talking about a larger war on terror. And the point he has also made -- tried to make is that he understands right now that there's enormous political controversy. But he also understands that, like it or not, the terrorists are simply not going to lay down their hatred on January 20, 2009, just as they did not lay down their hatreds when George W. Bush took the oath of office, and they had already been in the stages of planning for September 11th.

This is a long war, based on deep and profound hatred of the United States and its way of life, and a determination to kill us, people who spend their time scheming to find ways of killing us. And the President wants to make sure that the next Commander-in-Chief of the United States will have access to intelligence that can save American lives; will have access to law enforcement tools that will allow people in the United States to go ahead and break up cells before they can act; will have access to the kind of military, diplomatic and economic levers that are going to force nations to make a choice about whether they're going to support us or be against us in the war on terror.

All of those things are essential. And his view is not one of simply trying to confine his field of vision to Iraq, but to say, he will do everything in his power to make it possible for the next President to succeed in a war on terror that surely will continue, even if everybody is home from Iraq, when the next President takes the oath of office.

David.

Q Can you repeat that? (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: Let me try. (Laughter.)

Q I want to ask you about the mixed messages that NPR pointed out during an interview with the President -- that the Vice President has been quoted as saying there's a lot of success in Iraq; the President has said there's not been enough success in Iraq, and that he doesn't approve of what's going on, either. How do you explain this disconnect and the kind of --

MR. SNOW: I see it less a disconnect as two different ways of looking at it. When you talk to combatant commanders, they make the point that every time there's a military engagement, such as the one that Bret was talking about, the other side doesn't win. On the other hand, what we have seen is a change in the situation on the ground, particularly with regard to sectarian violence, and also some strengthening -- although the locals have been fighting back against it in Anbar province. So what the President sees is the situation of violence in Baghdad and he says this is unacceptable -- and the Vice President agrees.

But the Vice President, I think, was also trying to make the statement that American forces, contrary to popular opinion, aren't just sitting ducks. They have, in fact, been engaged in military operations, and when there is direct conflict, they're successful. And it is important now to create the ability for the most important success of all, which is training up and creating capability within the Iraqi forces so that, sooner rather than later, they can assume full control for their security.

Q But when the President says that his Vice President is a glass half full kind of guy, might that be more charitable than others would allow, and they might think, no, when the Vice President talks about things going so swimmingly, that he's out of touch with what's going on?

MR. SNOW: You mean others are more critical of the Vice President than the President may be?

Q Yes.

MR. SNOW: Well, the Vice President does have a lot of critics.

Q Well, right, but the point is that, whether these are Republican critics or Democratic critics, the idea to -- when the President says he's a glass half full kind of guy, he's not being a little bit charitable, I guess?

MR. SNOW: No, I don't think so. Again, I think there are two ways you look at it. You can take a look at what happens -- it's important -- everybody says, we support the troops, and everybody praises the troops. Well, then acknowledge what they do. And when they do have conflicts in the field, they do succeed.

But the question now is building that capability among the Iraqis and also change in the way we do business in Baghdad proper, so that once you clean out a neighborhood you can keep it cleaned out, you can bring in jobs, you can build a foundation for real and permanent success. That's not something that was being done before and, frankly, the prior efforts didn't work. And so those of -- I think that's what the President and the Vice President are both talking about.

Q But to follow this, are the President and the Vice President -- can we characterize them as being on the same page with their read on Iraq?

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q And the Vice President's comments reflect the administration's thinking?

MR. SNOW: Both the President and the Vice President -- again, you can take a look at this in two ways, Jim. If you take a look in terms of specific military engagements, you can point to successes. For instance, you take a look at what's been going on in Anbar, you can take a look at operations recently in Diala, you can take a look at what's been going on down south with attempts to create acts of violence or to commit acts of violence against Shia worshipers -- those would all count as "successes."

But on the other hand, there's also been, over the last year, the new phenomenon of sectarian violence that was not addressed effectively, and I think the President and the Vice President both agree that it was not addressed effectively and we need to find better ways of doing it.

Q Tony, why a separate state of the economy speech? Isn't that something typically in the State of the Union speech?

MR. SNOW: Yes, but it wasn't in the State of the Union speech; hence a state of the economy speech.

Q Why? Why the decision to shift it off separately?

MR. SNOW: Well, let's see. the State of the Union speech, as it was, took sort of the normal hour, once you put everything together, and we wanted a State of the Union address that could be focused on key issues and bold initiatives. And you know what? It is worth reminding people of how good this economy is.

We are starting to see signs of it, in terms of people's general confidence in the economy and certainly consumer behavior. But you look at polls a lot of times and people think, well, it's going great for me, but maybe it's not going great for everybody else. The fact is that the American economy, having absorbed the kind of body blows that lesser economies would not have been able to survive, has continued to thrive.

And the last thing we can do -- you know, American workers have done this -- there haven't been any special acts of heroism, people have just gone to work and they've worked hard and they've saved and they've said, okay, I'm going to do what I need for a home addition, or I'm going to save up some money and buy something for my kid, I'll buy more this year for Christmas -- whatever the case may be. People have worked hard to pursue the kind of goals to make life better for themselves and their families. And that has made our economy stronger. And the last thing we need to do to these workers who have put the U.S. economy on their back, through all of these various challenges, is now to say, do you know what, job well done, we're now going to cut your pay in the form of a tax increase.

So what the President is really arguing for is, let's go ahead, let's make permanent the tax increases that have enabled people to have more cash in hand to pump back into the economy, to create conditions of economic growth, and let's make life more rewarding, literally, for the people who are working hard in this country, including small businesses.

Q He's not downgrading that by taking it out of the State of the Union speech?

MR. SNOW: No. No. I don't think -- as a matter of fact, this offers a chance to highlight it, don't you think? I mean, it's a separate speech.

Q Is he also, in a sense, trying to prod the Democrats into acting on this issue? Is this a message really directed to the Hill?

MR. SNOW: If you take a look -- any time a President gives a speech about politics, Sheryl, there are multiple audiences -- certainly Capitol Hill, but also the American public. For instance, in the State of the Union address, a health care plan that really does offer the possibilities of revolutionary change in the health care system that will make it user friendly, which a lot people complain that it is not today. He is talking about taking a new look at the way we go ahead and pursue energy innovation, so we cut our dependence on foreign oil, but at the same time we make the environment cleaner and we create new economic opportunity, rather than throwing people out of work.

Q Does he really expect Democrats to partner with him on those two issues, and to make his tax cuts permanent?

MR. SNOW: Well, we're going to find out. The Democrats, as I've noted many times, said that they wanted to come to Washington, they wanted to work with the President, they wanted to get things done. And I think the President has proposed things that make sense. People understand it. They understand that what he is talking about addresses some of their basic concerns about education, about the environment, about energy, about health care, about immigration, and people want to see action on those. And I think there are enough people of good will on both sides of the aisle that we may, in fact, be able to get things done.

Q Tony, talking about people want to see action on things, you also brought into the issue of the economy the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. You have Mark Morial, the head of the National Urban League, calling for a summit, and you have people like Bruce Gordon still very upset. What can the White House do to help in this lowest (inaudible), particularly as it's concerned with New Orleans, because there seems to be a disparity between the other (inaudible) in the state.

MR. SNOW: Well, as the papers in Louisiana have pointed out, that's really a question to point toward officials in Louisiana, because whereas -- the federal government has made more than $100 billion available for hurricane relief, and it has made billions of dollars available for housing. In the state of Mississippi, thousands of people have received checks, and they've been able to proceed with the business of rebuilding their homes and their lives. My understanding is that in New Orleans, that number is still less than 300, even though they've already spent more than $100 million in administrative costs. So it is an important question -- we will do everything we can to work with local officials, in terms of trying to increase the speed.

But right now, the federal government has made the money available, and we will do whatever those officials think they need in terms of assistance to finish their part of the job.

Q Tony, apparently it's not necessarily about money, it's about when do you say when, and not just work with, but help guide them, push them to move in --

MR. SNOW: Well, I think they're getting pushed a lot by their constituents right now.

Peter.

Q Tony, so the main issue tomorrow in Peoria is trade; is that right?

MR. SNOW: Yes.

Q There seemed to be some movement on this over the weekend, on the issue of world trade talks. What do you see -- what's your assessment for a world trade agreement at this point?

MR. SNOW: Sue Schwab and her counterpoint -- counterpart with the EU have been working very hard, and they've also been reaching out to the G20 nations. It's a very complex set of negotiations going forward. Also it's, I think, realized that it is going to be in the best interest of all to have success in the Doha round.

I cannot and would not get into details at this point. We are at a very important point of the negotiations. We've got a small window to get a lot of things done. And I know all sides are working very hard on this. But the President is deeply committed to working with all our allies. And they've assured us that they're committed also in working with us toward resolution.

Q And will he address this tomorrow?

MR. SNOW: He's not going to talk in detail about it, but what he will do is once again point to the importance of free trade. You see, not only do we have free trade within the global structure of the Doha round, but also the United States is engaged in a series of free trade agreements that also have yielded real benefits for American businesses and workers.

Q On another issue there, he's going to the Caterpillar plant, and that company was among those last week -- you know, called for the mandatory emissions controls. Do you think that issue will come up?

MR. SNOW: I don't know. We'll have to see. I certainly expect it to come up in reporter questions. But I don't know. Certainly, we're aware of the concern. And, frankly, what we do share is the belief that it is important to figure out every possible way to reduce carbon emissions and at the same time create conditions for continuing a strong economic growth.

There has been in the past -- and I think environmentalists realize this -- the creation of a kind of environmentalism that said the only way that we can clean the environment is to throw people out of work, shut down the factory, impose killer regulations -- in point of fact, there are real markets for making the economy cleaner. We have seen auto companies advertising the fact that their cars are cleaner than others and so on. It's something that Americans want and desire, so there are real market forces in favor of a cleaner environment. And, certainly, we'll continue working with any and all companies to do whatever we can.

Olivier.

Q Tony, this morning in a preview of the economic speech, you mentioned robust growth of India and China. And you said the President was going to lay out why it was important to stay number one.

MR. SNOW: No, what -- I was -- he is not. What I was saying, I was talking in general terms. So that was my characterizing the fact that we've got a very competitive global environment. And in this environment, it is important to make sure that our workers have the education they need, the training -- because you need to have the intellectual capacity to change jobs and change careers a number of times. It happens now with amazing swiftness. Companies themselves change. They change names. They have new logos. They change their missions.

We have an economy that has far more sweeping rapid irregular change than previous generations -- than the previous generations of Americans have had to deal with. It creates a sense of excitement, but also there is a challenge to make sure that you've got the conditions to allow companies to innovate and flourish, and also the ability to make sure that workers have the training and education necessary to compete in that kind of an environment.

Q So he's not going to cast this, then, as a global competition?

MR. SNOW: No, no, no, no.

Sarah.

Q Thank you. Tony, Saudi Arabia is offering to try and broker peace between Hamas and Fatah as violence continues in Gaza. Does the President support such an effort?

MR. SNOW: Let me put it this way, what we would like to see is a Palestinian partner that is willing to talk about peace with the Israelis. We saw a suicide bombing today in Eilat. It is important to have a negotiating partner that renounces violence, acknowledges Israel's right to exist and will abide by all prior agreements made by previous Palestinian administrations with the Israelis. What we're interested in is a reliable partner for peace.

Go ahead.

Q Thank you, Tony. Two questions. To the President's knowledge, has the United States Senate ever before voted to confirm appointment of a combat commanding general, like General Petraeus, and then voted to condemn the mission that he will lead in what would be an astounding hypocrisy?

MR. SNOW: Well, I am not -- I don't think that the people who are discussing resolutions would characterize them in that manner, and nothing has been passed yet.

Q No, of course not, because they're engaged in the hypocrisy. But isn't it hypocrisy?

MR. SNOW: Well, thank you -- thank you for the editorial comment. Let's go to question number two.

Q The Hill newspaper on Capitol Hill reports that Jane Fonda's fellow anti-war protesters were allowed to spray paint on part of the west front steps of the U.S. Capitol building on Saturday after U.S. Capitol Police were ordered by Chief Phillip Morse to fall back, after which 300 protestors spray painted, "Our Capitol building and you can't stop us."

And my question, does the executive branch believe the legislative branch should have allowed this treatment of the Capitol building of the United States?

MR. SNOW: Well, Les, what you're doing is -- I would encourage you, or all others interested, to call the Capitol Police and find out how this came to pass. I just -- I can't answer it.

Q Yes, one wonders what does the President -- he must have an opinion of this? Doesn't he? (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: Go ahead.

Q How closely is the President following the Libby trial?

MR. SNOW: Not that closely really. I know there's this perception that we're all sitting around buzzing about it, but we really aren't.

Q Well, I mean, you've got Rove and Bartlett both subpoenaed, and you've got the Vice President testifying. I would think there would be some interest in the White House.

MR. SNOW: Yes, but it's just -- look, it is what it is, it's an ongoing trial, and we're not going to comment on it further.

Q What is the President's response to seeing the White House portrayed as being at war with itself?

MR. SNOW: Well, again, as I said, as tempting as it is to jump into that, we're not commenting.

Q Are you glad you were not press secretary then? (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: I am glad I'm press secretary now.

Q North Korea insists they would never, ever return to the six-party talks unless BDA matter is resolved. Is there any precondition (inaudible) on North Korea?

MR. SNOW: I'm not going to get into talks, but we've made it clear the North Koreans need to return to the talks without precondition, and then we can move forward.

Ann.

Q Considering the size of the potential crowds of candidates who are already going to Iowa and New Hampshire, has the President been asked to authorize Secret Service protection for any of the announced candidates yet? And will the budget that comes out next week provide for what may be an unusually large number of candidates?

MR. SNOW: I know the answer to neither. We will get them for you. Obviously, on the budget stuff, you're going to have to wait until we release the budget. I will find out and we will attach an asterisk if we do have an answer.

Q Is the President concerned that Israel may have used U.S. cluster bombs in South Lebanon, according to preliminary findings of the State Department?

MR. SNOW: What we're doing is -- I would encourage you to call the State Department about that. That's in their bailiwick, and they'll have a better answer for you.

Paula. You know, I noted you earlier you were in the second row. Now you're way back. I miss you. Come closer.

Q Same type of question, either way. (Laughter.)

MR. SNOW: In that case, go back. (Laughter.)

Q In terms of health care --

MR. SNOW: Go ahead.

Q In case of -- now you've got me speechless. The administration approach to health care, it's been argued that if you really wanted to reach low and middle class families you should have taken a refundable health care tax credit approach.

MR. SNOW: What we've done is we've tried to put together two pieces that together we think offer the opportunity to get private health care in everybody's hands. Number one, you create a health care deduction that allows everybody to have cash in hand that are going to require insurance companies suddenly to compete for their business, and say, let me give you what you want, rather than now, where we stand in lines once a year at open enrollment and we take what they'll give us.

It is really a sea change in the way that market is going to operate. It's going to make it more user friendly. And based on the experience that we've seen with the prescription drug benefit, where there's been vigorous competition to make people happy, we can expect an improvement not only in the quality of the product, but also lower prices.

On the other hand, we do understand that there are some people who, even under this system, are not going to be able to afford health care, and therefore we are working with states to put together programs that are going to allow those states to make private insurance available to all. So I know there are two different ways of cutting the issue. There are a series of -- there are varied series of pluses and minuses to either.

We think this is a strong way to do two things. Number one, create a responsive health care market. Immediately it's going to lower costs for 100 million Americans -- that's a good thing. But also, in addition to providing private health care for the poor, it's also going to give them an opportunity to enter an entirely different kind of health care system, one that's going to be, by design, more user friendly.

Q Also, on health care and climate change, a growing number of states and localities are actually approaching the health care issue by trying to establish universal health care coverage, and also putting their own caps on greenhouse gas emissions, because they apparently feel the federal government isn't setting a high enough bar on either of those.

MR. SNOW: We believe in federalism. On the other hand, we also believe in competition. States are certainly free to try out whatever they can. We think private markets are going to work better than a single payer plan, because, again, a single player plan forces consumers to do whatever government offers them, as opposed to saying to consumers, here is your money, have people go out and compete for the right to get your dollars. That makes the -- that gives the companies a far more profound incentive to reform the system in a way that's going to make it a happier experience for us all.

Q Thank you.

END 1:43 P.M. EST