|Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings|
For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
December 6, 2007
Press Briefing by Dana Perino
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:30 P.M. EST
MS. PERINO: Hi, everybody. Just a quick comment. The President, as you know, at 1:40 p.m., is going to make a statement after getting a briefing from Secretaries Paulson and Jackson on housing. In August, the President proposed legislative reforms to assist struggling homeowners. Among the President's reform proposals was Federal Housing Administration modernization. The President actually proposed that first in April of 2006. He's also proposed tax reform, endorsing one of Senator Sabenow's proposals on that regard.
Since then Congress has failed to pass any legislation regarding housing. So, in August, the President also asked Secretaries Paulson and Jackson to come together, work with the private sector to find new ways to help struggling homeowners. He will hear from them today about that effort, in addition to a group called HOPE NOW, representatives from HOPE NOW, which is the private sector coalition that has come together to reach this agreement today that they will provide you details on.
Following the President's statement, Secretaries Jackson and Paulson will provide a briefing at the Treasury Department to answer more of your detailed questions, which I might not be able to do from this podium.
Go ahead, Jennifer.
Q Thanks. On this letter to North Korea today from the President, clearly the message was tough: Meet the deadline, follow through with your commitments. But does this not also represent somewhat of a carrot for North Korea, with the kind of leader-to-leader dialogue and recognition of status that North Korea has always wanted?
MS. PERINO: I think that it is -- I would read it as a reminder that coming up at the end of this month, the end of December, that the DPRK, on this October 3rd, reiterated its commitment to provide a complete and accurate declaration of all of its nuclear programs by the end of this year. And so the President sent a letter to all the members of the six-party talks -- separate to himself -- on December 1st, saying this is the agreement that we have. And to the North Koreans, the letter was slightly different -- this is the agreement that you have agreed to; you have a commitment for this full and accurate declaration. The declaration was to include all nuclear facilities, materials and programs. They had also agreed to address concerns related to any uranium enrichment programs and activities.
I got asked that earlier this morning, so I found that out. And the President also said that he expects the North to address any proliferation issues.
Q How tough is the language? And will you release the letter?
MS. PERINO: I don't believe we will release the private correspondence, but I'll check. I would describe it as a presidential letter to another leader of a country. I was asked this morning how the letter was addressed. He is addressed as "Dear Mr. Chairman," as he is the Chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea. It's on White House letterhead and signed, "Sincerely," dated December 1st. The President did hand-write -- hand-sign the letter.
Q And what do you say to those who see it as a carrot, as a -- what it symbolically represents?
MS. PERINO: Well, remember, we entered into -- I would tell them that the President started this six-party process in order to getting the leverage that we would get from having other partners involved, and not having unilateral -- I'm sorry, bilateral negotiation with North Korea. And that has worked so far. But what the President wanted to remind everybody is that the next step in this is a complete and accurate declaration by the North, and we -- the President expects for it to be accurate.
Q But the President has shunned Kim Jong-il for years. He's called him a tyrant on several occasions. Is this not, as well as an attempt to put pressure on North Korea, a way of saying -- showing there's a potential opening of dialogue, at a very high level, even?
MS. PERINO: Remember, I think that you're missing the point of the six-party talks. The origination of the six-party talks was to solve this diplomatically, was to give them a path to get out of the isolation that they have put themselves in, and to change their behavior, but only if they make this complete and accurate declaration; it was conditional. And so the President was reminding everybody that this is where we are; we have this agreement in terms of the six-party talks, everyone should be going towards the same goal, but it is up to you, North Korea, to make a complete and accurate declaration; and if you don't, we will know that you're not.
Q Dana, on Tuesday at his press conference, when the President was asked about when he learned about Iran's nuclear program being halted, was he being completely candid?
MS. PERINO: Yes, he was. And I talked to you about that last night, I talked to your colleagues this morning, and I'll reiterate it here. If you look at the rest of that sentence, what the President -- the President was clearly told that there was new information that was coming in, but he wasn't told the details of it. And the President was also told that the intelligence community was going to need to go back and check out to find out if it's true.
What I said is that McConnell told the President, if the new information turns out to be true, what we thought we knew for sure is right: Iran does, in fact, have a covert nuclear weapons program, but it may be suspended. He said that there were many streams of information that were coming in that could be potentially in conflict. They didn't have a lot of confidence in the information yet.
Q But the President said, "He didn't tell me what the information was." But you're now saying he was told that Iran may have halted its nuclear weapons program and also that there may be a new assessment, right?
MS. PERINO: Right, but he doesn't -- he didn't get any of the details of what the information, in terms of what the actual raw intelligence was.
Q He didn't say, he didn't tell me what the information --
MS. PERINO: Okay, look, I can see where you could see that the President could have been more precise in that language, but the President was being truthful.
Q Dana, but listen to what he said: "He didn't tell me what the information was; he did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze." Was the President told that there was a possibility that Iran's nuclear program could be suspended? That's what you said he was told.
MS. PERINO: Yes, the President was told that there is new information in the context of raw intelligence, not told the details of what it was, and told that he's going -- they're going to have to go back and do some more checking on it because they didn't have a high degree of confidence in it, and it could potentially be in conflict.
Q But he said he didn't know what the information even was. I can see the details of it, but --
MS. PERINO: Martha. Okay, you could -- I grant you, he could have been more precise in his language. But if you look at the follow-up -- the following sentences of that quote he says -- I have it right here -- he says, that "it would take a while to analyze." "It" -- he's referring to "it" in terms of what the information was. I think that --
Q But he said he didn't know what the information was.
MS. PERINO: He didn't know that there -- he did not know what the specific details were of the raw intelligence that they had found.
Q But he knew it was strong enough information to delay the NIE.
MS. PERINO: No -- well, strong enough information that they said that they needed to check it out, and the President thought that that was an appropriate and responsible thing to do, sure.
Q Let me ask you this: Did anyone from the intelligence community or Mike McConnell, himself, after listening to the President the other day, ask you or anyone in the White House to clarify what the President was told?
MS. PERINO: Absolutely not. No, absolutely not.
Q That was only prompted by a question from the press?
MS. PERINO: Yes, yesterday when there was a question in the gaggle, that Tony Fratto said he didn't have information on, we tracked it down, got some more information, and once I did, as I try to do for you every day, provide you more information.
Q Dana, can I say -- I mean, Mr. Hadley also left the impression that the President really wasn't given a lot of detail. Isn't it fair that this White House --
MS. PERINO: That's not an impression, that's a fact.
Q -- be more precise -- it's not a fact, given what you said. It is not a fact that he wasn't told the new information, if we're to believe what you said.
MS. PERINO: Martha, what I'm saying is that the President was told that there was new information that had come in. It was regarding the raw intelligence that they had had -- they might -- if we find out that this is true, then we were right that they had a covert nuclear weapons program, but it may be suspended; we've got to check out more information. But the President didn't get the raw detail in terms of the sources and methods -- how did they find this information --
Q But we're not saying he did. We're saying --
MS. PERINO: -- and I'm saying -- Martha, let me finish, please. The President said -- I grant you, and I've said it before, the President could have been more precise in that one specific answer in the press conference. But clearly the President knew that there was information. We've said that there was, the DNI has said there was, the Director of the CIA has said that there was new information that came to him. And this information -- check with the DNI on specifics for who and when -- was also given to the Hill. And so this information was out there, but didn't know the specifics -- he did not know the specifics of it in terms of all the details and all the different checking that had gone forward. He got that briefing last Wednesday.
Q Can I just clarify, is the President briefed every day by Director McConnell, when he gets his daily intelligence briefing?
MS. PERINO: I don't know if it's him every day, but he does get a briefing, sure.
Q But on a regular basis, Director McConnell is in the Oval Office?
MS. PERINO: Sure.
Q So are you saying that from August, when the President was tipped off by McConnell, until last week --
MS. PERINO: "Tipped off"? Come on, Ed.
Q No, no, no. He was tipped off --
MS. PERINO: "Tipped off"? He was told that --
Q -- to the fact that the assessment may be changing, in your own words --
MS. PERINO: Correct.
Q -- you said he was told of that.
MS. PERINO: Sure.
Q He wasn't told all the details. So from August until last week, the President never asked Director McConnell, hey, how's that going, are we getting any more on Iran? He never asked --
MS. PERINO: I'm not saying that. But if I --
Q Well, so he did ask for --
MS. PERINO: -- I don't know exactly what the President asked in the presidential daily brief. But say that I -- just -- I'm going to do a hypothetical here, which I usually don't do -- but say I had. And the questions from this room would be, "Did the President pressure the intelligence community? Did he meddle in the intelligence?" And the answer is, no.
Look, Ed, this is what --
Q How about just being curious and asking, hey, is there a new assessment; I'm out there talking about World War III.
MS. PERINO: No -- let me clarify that one more time. The President said, if you want to avoid World War III, you will prevent Iran from having the know-how to make a nuclear weapon. What we know right now for sure is that Iran is enriching uranium, which is fissile material, to get a bomb. They are developing ballistic missiles in order to deliver a bomb. And we know something that we didn't know before, which is that they have halted a covert nuclear weapons program. This should not give us comfort.
And what the President is saying is that he is going to stick with the international community, who has agreed with him and said this is a problem. We do not want Iran to have a nuclear weapon. And therefore, we are going to keep the pressure on, because what the NIE also tells us is that it is pressure that made them halt that nuclear weapons program.
Now, there are others who might look at these conclusions and decide, it's time to breathe a sigh of relief and to walk away and to take the pressure off. But that's not where the President and his allies are.
Q Can you just clarify one more thing? What day was the President actually briefed on the NIE?
MS. PERINO: I don't know. I don't know.
Q Well, because Mr. Hadley left the impression that it was last Wednesday.
MS. PERINO: Oh, the NIE specifically? Yes, it was last Wednesday.
Q Last Wednesday. Okay. But there have been reports that the President briefed Prime Minister Olmert last week, maybe on Monday. Is that --
MS. PERINO: I don't know.
Q Did he brief Prime Minister Olmert? And how could he brief Olmert on Monday about a report that he found out about on Wednesday? Can you --
MS. PERINO: I don't -- I will check. I mean, it's possible that he knew that there was information coming, the intelligence community was checking it out --
Q -- he didn't just find out about it Wednesday. This was out there.
MS. PERINO: The President knew -- no, Ed, think about it. Think about it. The President was told by McConnell that the NIE -- he knew an NIE was coming. He knew that NIE was going to have to be delayed because they had gotten some new information, and -- Jim, I'll get to you in a second -- that the NIE was coming, but they had to check things out, they had to do some more due diligence, and then they would come back to the President. So he knew it was coming eventually. So I don't think there's anything --
Q But you can clarify which day it is later?
MS. PERINO: I don't know if I can. I know that the -- in the backgrounder that the DHI's office did, they said circa August.
Q The New York Times today --
MS. PERINO: I don't know -- why do you guys ask me questions, and then I start answering, and you ask me a question on top of it? What's your last question?
Q The New York Times today is saying that there was a meeting in the Situation Room two weeks ago about this NIE, and the Vice President was there, but not the President. Is that true?
MS. PERINO: I don't know, but it wouldn't be -- that wouldn't strike me as unusual.
Q Okay, but then, it wouldn't filter up to the President if the Vice President knew about the contents of the NIE two weeks ago? It wouldn't filter to the President until last week? He wouldn't know about the details?
MS. PERINO: I don't know, I'll check for you. But that would -- it would not strike me as unusual that people are getting --
Q Can you move down the row?
MS. PERINO: Jim, yes, I will. I'm trying to exhaust his questions so I don't have to come back to him.
Q Well, it's going to take all afternoon --
MS. PERINO: Well, take it up with him. Go ahead.
Q I just want to widen out for a second, because it seems like we may be getting lost a little bit in the weeds here. While the rhetoric was heating up -- and I don't think there's any dispute that the rhetoric was heating up --
MS. PERINO: I would dispute that.
Q -- the Vice President saying there would be serious consequences, the President talking -- beyond August, in the fall, you don't think the rhetoric was heating up?
MS. PERINO: I do not. I think that's been the characterization of the press.
Q But the President didn't even dispute that the other day.
MS. PERINO: I think that -- look, but the President's policy hasn't changed.
Q I guess my question is, while the President was engaged -- and I think -- I imagine the President would have taken exception to this the other day when he was asked directly, "while the rhetoric was heating up," if he was aware when -- I think what a lot of people are trying to get their arms around here is, was he told at the point there's new information, isn't that some kind of red flag to back off or tone down the rhetoric?
MS. PERINO: Just remember -- but think about it in terms of he's told there's new information confirming what we thought to be the case, that they were pursuing a nuclear weapon and they had actually a nuclear weapons program previously undisclosed -- to this day, undisclosed.
Q So the question is -- it's a question of interpretation -- if they have halted their program, does that confirm what you believe, or is that new information that they've halted their program? You're saying it just confirms what we've been saying all along. So what he was told really was -- that wasn't any new change in information or perspective, or anything?
MS. PERINO: Two things are new, which is they had a covert nuclear weapons program that we didn't know before, and that they had halted it because of international pressure. Those are the two things that are new.
Q So anyone's takeaway is that they had a program -- Iran had a program, and they haven't had it since 2003, they haven't had a program in four years -- if that's somebody's takeaway from the news this week, that is, what, a very limited view?
MS. PERINO: Well, I would -- well, now we know that they have a covert nuclear weapons program. That's something they hadn't known before. But we also know at the same time that they are enriching uranium, which is in order to get fissile material. And the second thing is that they continue to test and develop more ballistic missiles in order to deliver a weapon.
We also -- read through the NIE -- the other thing it says is they aren't sure whether the civilian programs that I just -- the two that I mentioned -- aren't being passed to another covert nuclear weapons program that we don't know about, which is why the President and his international allies -- the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan -- have said, keep the pressure on, we do not want Iran to have a nuclear weapon.
They have a path to negotiate, and that path has been open to them. All they have to do is suspend and to talk about it.
Q And one follow on the housing crisis.
MS. PERINO: Okay.
Q I just -- I really do need some help understanding here. There are, from my understanding, 2.5 million are now delinquent already on sub-prime mortgages. I don't know if these --
MS. PERINO: I don't have that --
Q There are a number of people who are already delinquent, so they're not eligible --
MS. PERINO: That's right.
Q -- to take place in this freeze, is that right?
MS. PERINO: Well, ones that are -- already been foreclosed upon, no. There are some people -- but this is what I know, and then you're going to have to get more from Secretaries Jackson and Paulson, who are going to be very generous with their time with all of you this afternoon. But there are 1.8 million people who have sub-prime adjustable rate mortgages; about 600,000 of them they do not think they will be able to help. They do think they potentially will be able to help 1.2 million of those homeowners that have those type of loans.
Q But 80 percent, I guess, of sub-prime borrowers, by one calculation or another, are not eligible --
MS. PERINO: I don't what the percentage is. There are some that are already heading to foreclosure, and so they're too far down the road for this option. And there are some that could never afford the loan that they got in the first place, and so they're going to have to be helped in a different way. This other, this 1.2 million who could be eligible, they could get either -- refinance through a private sector mortgage, or even one of these FHA secure loans that the President created, or this other option, which the President will talk about, in regards to the private sector coming together on a voluntary basis in order to establish a rate freeze.
Q Dana, the 1.2 million -- all of that, not just the freeze?
MS. PERINO: I'm sorry, the 1.2 million --
Q You said 1.2 million could be helped. It's all three of those ways of helping them, not just through the freeze?
MS. PERINO: Yes, that's right, that's right.
Q The refinancing that you just mentioned -- was that for the 600,000?
MS. PERINO: No, no, that's for --
Q So there's nothing the 600,000 --
MS. PERINO: On the 600,000, they can still work out an option with their home lender or possibly with HUD in some way, shape or form. But they will not be able to work with -- in this HOPE NOW group, because they're either too far down the road and on disclosure -- I'm sorry, on foreclosure -- unfortunately, or they could never afford the loan that they got in the first place.
Okay, I'm going to go to the back row. Go ahead. Not back row, second row. James Rosen, making a guest appearance.
Q Thank you very much. I want to follow up, Dana, on two subjects that have been coming through so far: Iran and the NIE. The most senior of the four senior intelligence officials who briefed reporters in downtown Washington on the day of the release of the unclassified judgments of the NIE --
MS. PERINO: Yes?
Q -- stated on that occasion that it was his belief -- that it remained his belief -- that it is Iran's, quote, "latent goal" to build a nuclear weapon. Does the President share that view?
MS. PERINO: The President is very concerned that because of the activities that we know they're undertaking right now, which is the enriching of uranium and developing the ballistic missiles, and now knowing that they have a covert nuclear weapons program that they had halted in 2003, the President believes it's appropriate that we keep the pressure on, and he is joined by his allies in that regard.
Q Does he believe that it is Iran's latent goal to build a nuclear weapon?
MS. PERINO: I think -- I would have to ask him the specific question. I think that we are concerned enough about these activities to think that there could be a nuclear program in the future. It's also a great concern to think that a civilian -- a program that is masked as something that is civilian could be passing secrets on to a military operation.
Q The other subject that I wanted to follow up on is the President's letter to Kim Jong-il. You described it as a reminder to the North Koreans and other parties in the six-party talks that the DPRK is responsible for providing this complete and correct declaration of its nuclear programs and activities by the end of the year. Is it safe to infer correctly that because the President felt a need to so remind the North Koreans that, in fact, as of right now, the United States has not received any of the elements of this declaration so far?
MS. PERINO: I don't know. I'd have to ask -- you would have to ask Ambassador Chris Hill, who did brief yesterday. And I don't know if he would say regardless, given that the complete and accurate declaration isn't due until the end of the month. But what the President told Kim Jong-il and the other members of the six-party talks is that we are at a critical juncture and this is when the declaration is due, and that's why he sent the letter.
Q Is that a quote from the letter?
MS. PERINO: "Critical juncture" is.
Q Would we be at a disadvantage if our first inkling of what is going to be in this declaration were, in fact, to reach us on the due date?
MS. PERINO: Would you be at a disadvantage? Why? Because it's December 31st and it's New Year's Eve? (Laughter.) Is that why you're asking?
Q I'll let the question stand without explaining it any further. Would we be at a disadvantage if our first inkling of what is going to be in this declaration were to come with the submission of the actual declaration?
MS. PERINO: Well, I don't know how they're planning to submit their declaration, so I'll have to check that out. And I think State Department might be a better place to answer that question.
Q Dana, two questions -- if I can clarify something you said earlier. You said they're enriching uranium, which is fissile material to get a bomb.
MS. PERINO: Which can -- I'm sorry, which can lead to fissile material to get a bomb.
Q Okay. You're not saying at the moment they are currently enriching uranium to the degree necessary to have weapons-grade uranium?
MS. PERINO: We don't know.
Q And the other question is about a conference report which I guess is going to come out this afternoon on the intel authorization bill, in which there will be language explicitly banning waterboarding. Would the President veto that bill?
MS. PERINO: I haven't heard that specifically. What I have heard about that bill is that they wanted to include the Army Field Manual, which is something that that the President has opposed in the past and that we would have a veto threat on.
Q On Iraq --
MS. PERINO: Iraq?
Q Iraq, with a "q."
MS. PERINO: Okay.
Q Does the President believe that by the time he leaves office, Iraq will have a self-governing democracy that will be able to defend itself?
MS. PERINO: Well, if you look at the fact that it -- was it last Monday we did the declaration of principles? We believe that we'll have one more year of a U.N. mandate, U.N. Security Council mandate in Iraq. And then after that Iraq seeks to get out from under that U.N. mandate and we hope to help them to get there.
Q It seeks to, but Vice President Cheney said in an interview that -- flatly said that this --
MS. PERINO: We think that that's possible; we do.
Q Possible. He said it was going to happen.
MS. PERINO: Well, I'm not going to disagree with the Vice President, and I think that's a distinction that doesn't need to be made. We have one more year under a U.N. Security mandate, and then we'll be able to move forward. The only reason I hesitate here is because I, one, haven't spoken to the Vice President. I did hear -- I read about that article, I didn't see the transcript yet. And also because Prime Minister Maliki has said that that's what he wants to do.
But General Petraeus, on the ground, yesterday said that violence in Iraq is down 60 percent. But we're concerned that if we take our eye off the ball that that could reverse itself. And so there's a lot of work we have to get done, and he's going to come back and report to the American people in March, and I think we need to wait and see what he says so we can tell where we are in the process.
Q The President, himself, has never gone that far in any optimistic statement.
MS. PERINO: I wouldn't know -- I haven't asked the President, I don't know if he would have any different answer than what the Vice President gave.
Q Dana, on North Korea, Secretary Rice says she thinks that the deadline actually is going to slip to January for technical reasons, not as the result of a cooperation issue. The South Korean foreign minister says the same thing. At the State Department they're openly floating the idea that they would rather see a complete declaration on, say, January 2nd, than an incomplete one on December 31st. How hard is that December 31st deadline? Do you think it's going to --
MS. PERINO: I hadn't heard that from the State Department, although maybe James Rosen would like to put his name in the ring for -- (laughter) -- yes, he'd prefer it on the 2nd or 3rd, so it's not on the 31st. But I don't know. I'll check.
Q I just prefer that it be completed correct, Dana.
MS. PERINO: I think you didn't want it on New Year's Eve. (Laughter.)
Q And this may be more of a State or specifically to Chris Hill, but can you confirm that the issue here is the highly enriched uranium program that the United States alleges they have, and they've never --
MS. PERINO: Is that on Iran or North Korea?
Q On North Korea.
MS. PERINO: No, I'll have to refer you to him.
Q Dana, following on Peter's question about Iraq, both General Petraeus and Secretary Gates have talked about the reduction in violence -- also then I want to move on to the energy bill, new topic -- (laughter) -- getting them all in.
MS. PERINO: Okay.
Q They talked about the reduction of violence and the benefits of the surge. Now, the surge was put in place, as the President said, to give time or give -- create an environment for political gains. Where are those political gains? And is the President satisfied with the progress towards those political gains, or is he talking to Maliki about perhaps, now that they have this down-tick in violence, getting that forward?
MS. PERINO: He's definitely pushing them in order to get more done. This is a -- they should take advantage of this opportunity where they have a -- the space that they need, where the security is improved. They have done a lot. The politics has been breaking out especially on the local level; at the province level, certainly, but also when you look at revenue sharing, where the central government is getting a lot of money out to the provinces, and you have lobbying by the provinces and they come up and they ask the central government for more money, Sunni and Shia alike, and the Kurds. And they're moving forward.
One of the things that Deputy Secretary Kimmitt, who is over there, said yesterday is that they haven't made improvements in their oil production, and so they've moved forward on a budget. They're looking -- they had a number that they wanted to hit by the end of the year; they actually hit that number by November 30th. And most of that is because they have improved the number of oil exports that they have.
So the money is getting out there, but they need to do more on especially the de-Baathification law. And that's had its second reading in the parliament, and it needs a third one, and the budget needs a third reading. So they're moving forward, but there's certainly more to do be done.
What we need to do here on our own Congress is fund the troops. Congress has had the President's request since February -- 70 percent of the President's request since February. General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker came here in September, provided the testimony that the Congress had asked for. And one of the reasons, back in May, when we went through the supplemental fight, that the members of Congress said that they didn't want to provide money to the troops was because we were failing in Iraq -- those were their words -- we were failing in Iraq; therefore we shouldn't get any money. Now, as most of them have come back from Iraq and said that's vastly improved, now they don't want to give us money for the troops in Iraq unless it's conditional.
So I think that General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, they know what is needed on the ground there. We should listen to them and we should fully fund the troops, so that DOD doesn't have to go through all the machinations that they've been forced to consider because of this delay.
Q How is the President expressing that pressure, or pushing them? You said that he's pushing them for political progress.
MS. PERINO: With Prime Minister Maliki?
MS. PERINO: Well, one of the things that you see is we had just -- we had Brett McGurk, one of our staff here, who went over to Iraq in order to help get this declaration of principles finished; he helped Ambassador Crocker on that. Deputy Secretary Kimmitt is there right now helping them -- because one of the things he said is, if you want more oil investment in this country, especially from overseas, you have to have more certainty, and you need an oil law to do that. So we have Deputy Secretary Kimmitt there. And I believe David Satterfield is headed over, as well, to work on the de-Baathification law. So we're helping push -- we're not just pushing, but we're helping them get there.
Q Energy bill.
MS. PERINO: Okay.
Q I know there are a number of provisions in there that have drawn veto threats, but what about the CAFE standards? Is that -- the language that's in the bill now, that's in the House version, is that acceptable to the administration?
MS. PERINO: No, the way that it's drafted is not. The President wants to have increases in CAFE standards. He already has increased CAFE standards for SUVs and light trucks already twice in this administration. We have a proposal right now for a third. The reason he could do that is because under the law, he has the authority to do it. He doesn't have that authority on passenger cars. He's asked Congress for it for the last two years. They've not acted on it. So we've asked Secretary Peters and EPA Administrator Johnson to work towards that. But the way that language was specifically written, we can't support it in the House bill, but it might be able to get fixed in the conference committee.
Q What's the issue in the House bill? What is it --
MS. PERINO: I don't remember specifically. We have a SAP that is coming out in -- within the hour or so, once the bill is on the floor, so you'll have that specifics.
I'm going to go back here. Les.
Q Thank you, Dana.
MS. PERINO: And then Pete.
Q Two domestic questions. The Media Research Center -- with the Centers for Disease Control's statistics that HIV/AIDS in the U.S. is still a great deal higher among men who have sex with men --
MS. PERINO: Let's move on to the next question. I'm not even going to dignify --
Q No --
MS. PERINO: I'm not, Les, unless you want to just move on altogether. What's your next question?
Q All right. In major cities like Washington, Chicago and San Francisco, there are reports that gay bathhouses facilitate --
MS. PERINO: Okay, Keith, go ahead. Les, it's inappropriate --
MS. PERINO: -- to bring up those questions in the briefing room.
Q AIDS isn't that --
MS. PERINO: Just stop it, stop it.
Go ahead, Keith.
Q The 1.8 million people with sub-prime loans that you mentioned --
MS. PERINO: Yes.
Q -- is that all sub-prime loans, or just people who are in trouble?
MS. PERINO: These are active, owner-occupied, that we'll reset in 2008 and 2009. So I don't believe that all of those are in trouble, no.
Q Okay. Will this aid, the rate fixing, be available to people who are not having difficulty making their payments, as well? In other words, some of those people who are going to reset, they're not having trouble, but they're going to get the freeze, as well?
MS. PERINO: Well, one thing that they'll talk about is how they created, in this HOPE NOW agreement, a way to systematically look at when people call, so they don't have to do it one by one. If we have 1.2 million people calling, it would take too long in order to process them. So they'll go through a process. They'll have the details. They'll have the details for you later, in terms of what they will look at. But one of the things that they'll consider is -- certainly, if you're a speculator, in terms, like, if this was your second home that you bought in order to flip, they're not -- you're not going to be eligible.
Q Okay, then a broader question. How is this not, as some are suggesting, sort of an abandonment of free-market principles and a bailout? Isn't it really a reward for risky decisions and bad economic behavior?
MS. PERINO: Well, a massive wave of foreclosures is not in anyone's interests. It's not in the lender's interests, the service provider's interests, the home owner, the community, the neighbor. And so what the President did is help facilitate a private sector agreement. Not a penny of taxpayer revenue is going to go towards this agreement, and it's all private-sector-run. And I think that because they've come up with this new standard, I think that it will certainly help in the future. And it's a good private sector way to handle the problem.
Q But he supports that -- it's something he supports.
MS. PERINO: Well, certainly, we help facilitate it, but it's a private sector solution.
Q Is it a message to people that you can make risky bets like that and lose, and --
MS. PERINO: No, I think that these people -- I think that anyone who is in this situation is going to have to really think hard about what they did, and they're going to have some choices. They're still going to have to pay their mortgage, but just remember, a massive wave of foreclosures is not in anybody's interests, and so that's what we're trying to do.
Q Thank you, Dana.
END 1:01 P.M. EST