The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
September 17, 2008

Press Briefing by Dana Perino
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

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11:05 A.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Hi, everybody. Let me do a couple updates here. President Bush is currently meeting with General David Petraeus, who departed earlier this week as the Commander of Multi-National Force in Iraq. General Petraeus has served this country admirably over the last 19 months in Iraq, and will continue to serve his country as the next Commander of U.S. Central Command, a post he will assume the end of October.

At the conclusion of the meeting, President Bush will make a brief statement to the pool, where he is expected to comment on this morning's bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Yemen. We have condemned this attack and we offer our sincere condolences to the loved ones affected by today's violence, perpetrated by terrorists.

Also this afternoon, the President is going to meet with the President of Panama. He looks forward to discussing a range of issues with President Torrijos, including our common commitment to the United States-Panama trade promotion agreement expanding free trade and strengthening democracy throughout the region, enhancing security cooperation, and strengthening cooperation internationally.

This visit following President Torrijos' visit in May underscores the ongoing deep friendship and cooperation between our country and Panama.

This evening the President will host the Iftaar Dinner in the State Dining Room. This will be his eighth dinner of his administration. This year's dinner highlights American Muslims who have made significant technological, artistic or innovative contributions to our nation. Prior to this evening's dinner, the President will make brief remarks in which he will honor the members of the Muslim community in attendance who have risen to the top of their professions.

Finally, today the administration has committed to helping those who are less fortunate and has provided heating and air conditioning assistance to millions of families each year. We want to continue that assistance and our proposed budget for fiscal year 2009 would help those most in need. Today, HHS will announce the release of $121 million in energy assistance to help eligible low income households meet energy costs.

The LIHEAP funds are expected to provide states with heating assistance for the winter months ahead. The money is being released now so that the states can plan and buy the fuel that they will need. Of the $121 million, $96 million will go to help individuals heat or cool their homes in all 50 states, territories, tribal areas, and the District of Columbia. The remaining $25 million will assist the following states identified as having large numbers of eligible households that use oil to heat their homes: Alaska, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

With that, I'll take your questions. Yes.

Q Thanks, Dana. Two questions on AIG, to get us started. Can you do a little bit of tick-tock on the President's role -- when and how he signed off on this decision, and just kind of lead us through what his involvement was yesterday?

And then, secondly, can you also talk about how a bailout like this, another one after Fannie, Freddie, and Bear Stearns, sort of squares with the President's economic philosophy? I mean, how do we continue to put taxpayer money into companies that have made bad financial decisions?

MS. PERINO: Okay, so there was a lot of activity yesterday, but that followed a lot of activity over the past several weeks. I think we've kept you pretty well informed about the President's briefings that he has had with Secretary Paulson and other of his key economic advisors.

Yesterday, the President talked to Secretary Paulson in the morning, and then they had the President's working group in yesterday afternoon. Certainly, the topic of AIG was discussed. The President asked a lot of questions. Secretary Paulson came in with a recommendation. And the President agreed with that recommendation, and he told Secretary Paulson and Ben Bernanke to go forward and implement their plan as they saw fit.

As to -- I can understand why a lot of Americans would be confused as to why this company, and not another company, would get access to federal --

Q Why any company?

MS. PERINO: Well, why any company. I think that this is -- we are dealing with very challenging times and Secretary Paulson -- I'm sorry, the Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, and the President's economic advisors had determined that there were some -- some of these companies were so big that to allow them to fail would have caused even greater harm and damage to the economy.

So the goal has been to take action where necessary to promote stability and strength in the marketplace, so that we can prevent or limit more damage to the broader economy. In all cases, the President has wanted to make sure that the taxpayers are kept foremost in mind. In these agreements, if you look back, the shareholders have been wiped out. A lot of employees have lost their jobs. Management has been replaced. And the taxpayers will be paid back first.

While no one would have liked to have ended up in this situation, you have a government that is willing to lead, act where appropriate, and govern, to make sure that we limit broader financial harm to the economy.

Q You say taxpayers will be paid back first. They may not be paid back at all.

MS. PERINO: Well, that is true. And that is why we take great care in making sure that President has asked a lot of questions, to make sure that his economic advisors have thought things through, have made the best determination and have moved forward. But I think the tax -- I think the argument is that the taxpayers might be harmed even worse if the economy was -- if we allowed it to just have a lot broader damage.

And we think that the actions that have been taken were appropriate ones. I believe that Treasury thinks that they will be able to pay the taxpayers back. But it's just going to take us some time to work through this crisis.

Q Where does it stop?

MS. PERINO: You know, I would be misleading you if I knew. What we are doing is taking this on a case-by-case basis, evaluating each one carefully. The President also spoke to Secretary Paulson this morning, a little after 7:00 a.m., for several minutes to get an update, and I'm sure they'll probably talk later today, which we can give you an update on later.

Q Dana, what do you say to Americans who are looking at the AIG deal and saying, we don't have a free market economy; how can you call this a free market economy?

MS. PERINO: We do have a free market -- the free market is alive and well, and we have systems in place here in our country to be able to deal with shocks to the system like this. And Secretary Paulson and the Fed Chairman have taken action where they think necessary in order to prevent broader shocks to the economy.

Look, the market has had a lot of information to digest over the past several days, and it's going to take a little bit of time for us to see where this goes. But I think the considered judgment -- the collective judgment of most people today is that the action they took last night on AIG was the right move.

Q And to the people who say, you know what, AIG should have failed so that you clean out the system and you don't delay whatever recovery -- you have a bottom and you start to move up. What do you say to that?

MS. PERINO: Well, we remain concerned about other companies, and that's why the Secretary of the Treasury continues to work with the team to see if we can stem any other losses.

But they're -- as I said, they're taking this on a case-by-case basis, and we will have to continue to do so; at the same time, looking at what we do to make sure that the taxpayers, to the greatest extent possible, are protected. But the considered judgment here was that if you don't take the recommendations of the senior economic advisors, who are very experienced and have decided on decisive action that can help stem the tide of broader economic damage, that that's the best thing that we can do to try to help protect all taxpayers in the long run.

Q And because AIG is that much bigger than Lehman Brothers, they get a bailout --

MS. PERINO: Well, I think -- look, again, I would point you back to the comments that Secretary Paulson and the Fed Chairman made last night -- and I'm not an expert in all these financial matters. But AIG was a company involved in lots of different products -- reached a lot -- reached right into the American pocketbook, and that was one of the reasons they decided to take this action last night.

Q Dana, Speaker Pelosi says that AIG's global nature warrants international participation in this bailout. Why were foreign countries not involved in it?

MS. PERINO: I don't know that they weren't, so I'd refer you to the Secretary of Treasury for that; I wasn't involved in those discussions. I know that --

Q Is there something I'm missing about the guarantees here, that there's international participation in this?

MS. PERINO: I don't know, you'll have to call the Secretary of the Treasury. I don't know -- I know that they've been in contact with his counterparts in the G7, so let me just refer you over there, because I don't -- I don't know all the details of all the consultations the Secretary has had and so I'm not going to comment on her comments when I don't know the answer to it.

Q Maybe I wasn't being clear, I mean, what we understand is there's an $85 billion line of credit, if you will, extended by the Fed. And she said that some other countries should pick up some of the share --

MS. PERINO: Oh, I see. I don't know what her -- all I know is the action that the Secretary of Treasury and the Fed Reserve Chairman made. They talked to -- well, actually, I don't think Speaker Pelosi came to the meeting last night, but they did try to talk to her and other members of Congress last night, and I'll just refer you over there; I don't know.

Q And when you say the President agreed with this, did he -- did it come to him for a decision?

MS. PERINO: I would say that the way that they -- the way that they moved forward was that they consulted with the President; they had a recommendation and the President agreed with it. But I think the way the laws work that the Fed Chairman can make this decision if Secretary of the Treasury moves forward -- but they weren't going to do that without consulting with the President.

Go ahead.

Q Dana, you know, the public, we hear a lot of abstractions about the effects of these failures. You used one, you said, a failure of AIG would have reached into the American pocketbook. That's very vague. Now, yesterday we had a mutual fund, the oldest one in the country, break a dollar. There are other mutual -- money market mutual funds under stress. Did these concrete situations with money market funds or the very obscure credit derivative market enter into these discussions? Can you give us a concrete example of where the effect would have been catastrophic?

MS. PERINO: Look, I -- what I can tell you is what I learned from my experience being in the meeting yesterday with the Secretary of the Treasury. There was discussion about possible broader implications, but I'd refer you over to there for specific examples like that.

Go ahead, Peter.

Q Is it still accurate to say, as the President has almost always insisted, that the economic fundamentals are strong?

MS. PERINO: Let me remind you what Secretary Paulson said, that as he looks at our country and compares it with other countries, that we are in a position of strength to be able to deal with this crisis, and it's going to take us a while to work through it. I recognize that this issue of strength has come into the 2008 election; I'm not going to try to get involved in it.

What I will tell you is that we have some -- on any given day we can have economic news that comes out that's both positive and then negative. For example, in some cases we'll have a day where the productivity numbers are up, GDP is up, but unemployment is up as well, which is not welcome. And so we have a very mixed picture right now, and no doubt we're going through some challenging times, and it will just take us some time to work through it.

Q Well, I didn't frame that in the context of the campaign. It's the President who has always said that, and I'm wondering if that assessment still stands, that the economic fundamentals are strong after this bailout and Fannie and Freddie and Bear Stearns and everything else?

MS. PERINO: I will tell you that our -- from what I understand from the experts, that our economy has the strength to be able to deal with these shocks.

Q What is the administration's view of this call for some sort of a permanent agency, that's kicking around on Capitol Hill, a permanent agency --

MS. PERINO: Yes, the RTC.

Q -- to deal -- yes, an RTC-like office.

MS. PERINO: A resolution trust corporation, I think it's called. We're going to hear a lot of proposals in the coming days as we try to work through this. We have an open mind. We'll always review things that will strengthen the economy, but we're still working through a lot of those ideas that are coming forward. So I don't have an outline for you yet as to what we would --

Q Realistically, do you think there's any -- it's possible that anything like that could develop before this President leaves office?

MS. PERINO: I wouldn't rule it out, but I'm not saying that it's necessarily on the list of issues that we're trying to deal with right now. I think people are thinking about the long-term issues, but we also have a day-to-day management issue that we're trying to deal with.

Okay, Roger. I'm just going to go to --

Q Can I follow on that?

MS. PERINO: No, I'm going to go to Roger.

Q Dana, you said a moment ago that there was discussion about the broader implications, as Paulson made his recommendations to the President. Can you walk us through that a little bit on some of the notions that were discussed? Was it, for example, the, perhaps, threat that other banks might topple, other businesses, other insurance companies? Can you just elaborate on that a little bit?

MS. PERINO: I'm going to let Secretary Paulson describe that himself. But what I will tell you is, just more broadly, one of the things that they're concerned about is, with tightening of the financial markets that you'll have less capital for people to be able to get loans for their businesses or for their cars or for their homes, for their student loans -- those types of things. It's that type of tightening that could hurt the broader economy.

Keith.

Q You didn't directly answer the question about whether the fundamentals of the economy are sound --

MS. PERINO: I answered it the way I was going to answer it, and I'll answer it the same way again. So -- and if you --

Q Why are you -- why won't you direct --

MS. PERINO: Because, Keith --

Q I've never heard someone not answer that question directly, from the podium here, that the fundamentals of the economy are sound. Are they, or not?

MS. PERINO: What I said is that we have the strength to be able to deal with this crisis in our economy. And I know that you're not asking the question in the forum of a 2008 campaign, but I know as soon as I say something you're going to turn it around and it will be a part of the 2008 campaign, and I'm not going to play the game.

Q That's not a game, though. That's a very important statement for the President of the United States --

MS. PERINO: I answered the question. I said our --

Q -- whether the fundamentals of our economy are sound. You're not answering that question.

MS. PERINO: I did answer it the way that I was going to.

Q He was saying it long before any of the candidates did.

Q Yes, for years.

MS. PERINO: What I have said is that our country has the strength to be able to deal with it. And remember, we have a mixed picture. On one hand, we have home sales going up in some parts of country; in other parts of our country they're still having a hard time in the housing market, such as in Florida. We have a mixed picture; and retail sales can be up one day, but inventories will be down. So there's just a lot of issues that we have to work through. It's not clear-cut in terms of all the -- is it all positive, is it all negative; there's a mixed picture. But we do have the strength to be able to deal with it.

Q What, specifically, is there about the country that can deal with this -- I mean, what -- how would you characterize that strength? What is there in the economy that --

MS. PERINO: Well, just look at the markets right now. Look at the strength of our -- the resiliency and the flexibility of our market to handle the situation of the past several days in a responsible, prudent way where people have taken the information and recognize that our country is strong enough to be able to deal with this. And we'll weather the storm and we'll be better for it.

Q If these crises continue, failures of the major players on the economic front continue, what other options does the administration have, what other arrows does it have in its quiver to attack the crisis? And is there realistically in the long run a limit to what any President can do --

MS. PERINO: I think the way that I'm going to answer that is that right now we're looking at this on a case-by-case basis. As these issues come -- they come to the Secretary of the Treasury, to the Fed Chairman, and they're working closely with the President and his economic advisors to deal with it on a case by case basis. So I couldn't tell you -- I couldn't answer your question directly.

Go ahead.

Q Dana, the administration first made a strong point of -- they were very insistent on holding the line on AIG and not being willing to put taxpayer money at risk. By caving in so quickly on that, does it -- is there any concern within the administration that it now sets a precedent for other companies, other troubled companies that will be coming forth in coming months and weeks?

MS. PERINO: I think that if you look at the actions that have been taken, as they're taken on a case by case basis, I don't think any company could be guaranteed anything. I think that everything will be reviewed individually and on its merits.

Mark.

Q Let me ask, sort of, that question, but in the obverse, was the President offered any guarantees yesterday that this is the last bailout?

MS. PERINO: No. Go ahead.

Q Dana, two questions. First, I wonder what the administration says to critics on Capitol Hill and elsewhere who say that the administration is thinking about the economy, its deregulatory approach, broadly speaking, helped create the climate that we find ourselves in today.

And secondly, the President has been careful in his public statements this week. He did speak about the economy the other day. Those reassurances didn't seem to reach the market. And I'm wondering why we haven't heard from him since, if we're likely to hear him speak directly on these issues?

MS. PERINO: Well, let me first of all -- I don't know specifically what the critics you're referring to are talking about. And I would ask, you know, what specific regulation, could they name one, that we sought to weaken when it came to regulating these financial markets? I don't think that they could.

And in fact, it was this administration after the abuses of the 1990s that first implemented the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which dealt with accounting practices. In addition to that, we've been calling for years for GSE reform, and Congress did not act until there was a crisis at hand.

We asked for RESPA reform, which would help people clarify their closing costs, so that everybody understands exactly what they're getting into. Congress failed to act. We are now in the middle of a rule-making process that the Democrats are trying to block. There's FHA modernization that we asked for, so that we could improve that agency. We didn't get that legislation until there was a crisis.

So for critics who are suggesting, or trying to affix blame to the administration, I would ask them to go back and do a little bit of self-examination before they start addressing us. In addition to that, Secretary Paulson earlier this spring weighed out a regulatory blueprint for what he said needed to happen. He said that the regulations that we have right now were put in place after the Great Depression. And there have been a lot of changes in our financial system since then: new companies, new products, new ideas, new innovations; and yet we need to improve oversight, increase transparency and increase the safety and soundness of our financial system. We are hoping to work with Congress on that in the next several days.

Yes, you did hear from the President yesterday. There are times, believe it or not, when policymakers actually need to, like, work on making some policy. Everyone was very busy yesterday making sure that all the I's were dotted and T's were crossed before they moved forward with action last night. So you didn't hear from the President yesterday. I will keep you as updated as I possibly can. I don't expect you'll hear from the President today on this, either.

Q And if I could just follow, on the regulatory blueprint that you mentioned that Secretary Paulson put forward -- I think among the criticisms I have heard is that that kind of blueprint, had it been advocated early in the administration, had someone done that kind of review early in the administration that we might have, and advocated more, that we might have not --

MS. PERINO: I'm sure you can find lots of critics. And I'm sure that there are going to be plenty of them who -- what was it, "Success has lots of fathers, but failure doesn't." I think that Congress needs to take -- before they start throwing arrows, take a little bit of time for some self-reflection. But also, why don't we just set that aside for a minute and focus on the fact that we have a crisis that we're trying to manage, that we are able to manage it in a way because -- in a way of stability and strength, based on the system that we have.

And we have the right people in place, the right personnel in place to be able to deal with this, in terms of the experts that we have that are on the President's senior economic team. So I'm not going to get into the blame game. We are in the act, lead and govern game.

Q Can you just talk a little bit about -- you said the President had a lot of questions yesterday, some good questions about what his concerns were?

MS. PERINO: Sure. I think the President -- you know, the President also wanted to make sure he understood why one company would be considered for federal help, and why one would not be. He wanted more information about the considerations for the taxpayers. He wanted to make sure that people had really thought through where we needed to go, in terms of the regulations, so that the idea was to, first and foremost, deal with the crisis at hand, last night's issue, and then, to continue to work with Congress in a bipartisan way to try to figure out a way to address the issue so that we can deal with it, so that we can prevent it from happening again.

That was one of the reasons that Secretary Paulson met with a bipartisan group of members last night.

Q Is he confident -- I know Secretary Paulson said the other day he thought the worst would be behind us in a matter of months, not years. Does the President feel pretty confident about that too? And why?

MS. PERINO: Well, based on the analysis and the assessments that he's getting from those senior economic advisors, I think the President would not have any reason to disagree with that.

Q It's not something he presses them on, about why?

MS. PERINO: Oh, sure. Sure, he wants to know -- he wants to know more about why, and how do we fix it. But he first and foremost wants to know, is everybody fully focused to get their jobs done today, to make sure that we are handling this in the appropriate way.

Jim, you had a follow-up?

Q Dana, at the risk of further exasperating you, I want to take -- I want to take one more stamp at clarity, because I do think it's going to be newsy coming out of here that the, sort of a thumbnail way that the administration refers to the economy for a long time, the fundamentals of the economy are strong.

Today, it's just being referred to in a different way with a different phrase. And I'm simply asking, does that reflect some decrease in confidence from the White House about the economy?

MS. PERINO: I think it reflects a realization that we have today, the market dealing with a lot of information that's coming its way. We believe in the strength of our -- and the resiliency of our system to be able to be flexible, to be able to handle that information, but it's just going to take us a few days, maybe longer, to see how that shakes out.

Q Dana, are the domestic automakers like AIG too big for the government to allow to struggle and perhaps fail, or are they more like Lehman Brothers?

MS. PERINO: I think you're talking about the auto industry, perhaps going towards -- going to Congress asking for them to implement a provision in a law that was passed December 2007 -- that was the energy bill then. As we've said before, we're aware of the issue; we know that that provision was in the law. If Congress decides to move forward on offering a $25 billion loan for very -- that law is very specific as to what that money could go to pay for, and a lot of it has to do with environmental improvements. I don't think Congress has made a decision yet on whether or not they're going to move forward. And so until they do, I don't think we'll be able to answer that.

Q Are those industries at the level, though, where the size is such that they cannot be --

MS. PERINO: I'm not the person to look for, for that kind of assessment. You'll need to go to Secretary of Treasury for that.

Go ahead, April.

Q Dana, you're saying there's a mixed bag as far as the economy --

MS. PERINO: It is really weird that you're talking to me through your camera. (Laughter.) Try again. Okay, I will compose myself.

Q Dana, you say it's a mixed bag -- the economy. What are the concerns in this mixed bag of the "R" word, recession?

MS. PERINO: Well, we've talked about the definition of a recession before; it's two consecutive -- it's generally considered two consecutive quarters of negative growth. We certainly haven't had that. I can't remember the exact number from last quarter, but it was certainly not in the negative territory.

Q But -- okay. That is the traditional mark, those are the traditional markers. But we are in a situation that is so totally different -- you know, you saw something 70 years ago and those old markers, some are saying -- those old markers, some are saying, do not hold to this. And they're saying that -- economists are saying we're in a very grave situation. What kind of situation would you call it using the old markers and looking at the new --

MS. PERINO: April, you're asking me questions -- I'm not an economist. I'm doing my best to try to give you the information that I can and I can speak on behalf of the President and his involvement, but if you want definitions about what is or isn't a recession in this day and age with these different types of modeling and everything, you're just going to have to go to an economist, not me.

Q But isn't there concern that this -- that we are in the new phase, a new definition of a recession? You can call it what you want --

MS. PERINO: April, I'm just going to move on.

Go ahead, Ann.

Q The President, I don't think, has had a news conference in about two months. Does he feel that kind of forum doesn't really have much use for him now to communicate his ideas, especially on the financial developments?

MS. PERINO: I'm sure he misses you all greatly, but -- (laughter) -- look, I think we have to be realistic --

Q We miss him.

MS. PERINO: -- that if you guys had him in here, almost everything would be geared towards the election, and he is cognizant of that. He wants to make sure that this election remains fully focused on the two candidates. He's not on the ballot. This is about John McCain and Senator Obama and how those two present themselves to the American people. And the President is reluctant to be in a place where there's going to be a lot of competition for questions that get him involved in the 2008 campaign --

Q How about if we keep it to the he economy?

Q So no press conferences for the next 48 days?

MS. PERINO: Not -- I didn't say that. I just said that I'm telling you that one of the reasons that we haven't -- I mean, every time that I would think about maybe having a press conference, the news of the day would be such that we might be talking about lipstick on a pig, and the President is just not going to get involved in it.

Q Well, but in fairness, Dana, right now you've had an unprecedented week of economic financial news. He still is President of the United States --

MS. PERINO: I hear you on that.

Q -- through January 20th at noon.

MS. PERINO: No, I hear you on that and I will update you as soon as possible as to when you would hear from the President on the economy again.

Q But he just doesn't feel it useful at this point to discuss some --

MS. PERINO: Look, he's talked to -- he takes questions from the press, he's done individual questions. He hasn't had a press conference, but he does -- he has been talking to other individuals, or when we have pool at the bottom, two-and-two. But it's been -- I grant you that it's been a while and I understand that people want to hear from the President during this time. You heard from him Monday and I will update you as soon as I can as to when you'll hear from him again.

Q Are you suggesting that we might hear from him in the next, say, few days or five days or so?

Q Few minutes?

MS. PERINO: Not the next few minutes, but -- (laughter) -- well, yes, you will on Petraeus, but not on the economy. I don't know yet, Roger.

Q Dana.

MS. PERINO: Go ahead.

Q Thank you. I have two questions on the President's views on internal revenue. The Alliance Defense Fund is challenging the 1954 amendment to the Internal Revenue Code, which says that nonprofit tax-exempt entities, including churches, "may not participate in or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of any political candidate." And my question, first: Does the President agree or disagree with this pastoral prohibition on U.S. citizens?

MS. PERINO: I don't know how to answer it. Why don't we go to your next question.

Q Okay. How does the President, as a devout Christian, believe this rule would have applied to public statements of denunciation of such political parties as the Pharisees and Sadducees?

MS. PERINO: If you -- if I couldn't answer the first one, what makes you think I can answer the second one?

Q Well, I just --

MS. PERINO: I'm going to decline to answer.

Q -- do try, and I appreciate --

MS. PERINO: Go ahead, Andre.

Q Thank you, Dana. A different subject, sorry. The President today received the credentials of the new Russian Ambassador. What do you expect from that meeting?

MS. PERINO: Well, that's right. Ambassador Kislyak came in today -- or will be coming in today in order to get -- present his credentials, and that's standard operating procedure for new ambassadors.

Q Have you completed the review of the -- review of, internal review of relations with Russia?

MS. PERINO: Have -- well, no, I think that that ongoing.

Q That's ongoing. And why would the -- your ambassador in Moscow suggest that there might be a possibility of our two Presidents meeting again -- did you see that?

MS. PERINO: I'm not aware of any, and I don't know -- I don't believe the Russian President is coming to UNGA next week.

Go ahead, Paula.

Q On the energy bill, there was a veto threat issued last night, and one of the poison pills in that dealt with either delaying or eliminating certain oil and gas tax breaks. Is the White House concerned that Congress might not be able to leave town with an energy bill, based solely on the fact the President vetoed it over preserving oil and gas tax breaks?

MS. PERINO: I don't think that our -- I don't think that Americans are going to see this Congress actually pass out an energy bill. If you look at what they -- the product that they produced last night is not something that the majority of members of the Congress are going to be able to support for a lot of reasons. It stifles development, it shuts the state out of revenue sharing, it has the provision that you mentioned.

We don't believe that tax increases is the right way to move forward on an energy bill. We don't think permanently locking up America's resources is the appropriate thing to do. We don't think that shutting out states from being able to participate in the revenue that would be generated from such activity would be appropriate. And I think that if -- you just need to look up to the public comments of several Senators and members of Congress who have said that this bill isn't going to go anywhere.

So I'm not that concerned that this President is going to have to veto a bill because unless they can get their act together, there's not going to be a bill that is sent to us.

Q But, you know, the President has said he really wants to see more incentives for renewable energy and conservation. If those tax breaks were either delayed or repealed, the money for that, taxpayers' money, would actually go for new renewable energy and conservation efforts.

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that --

Q -- a disconnect here?

MS. PERINO: I think there's -- I think you have a disconnect, actually, because in this legislation they're moving forward to increase taxes on the American people, lock up resources, and deny states the right to share in the revenue. They don't have -- they don't address nuclear power. They don't even allow for debate on the bipartisan bill that was put forward in the House, that was presented by Congressman Abercrombie and I can't remember the other.

But they have bipartisan legislation in front of them that is quite comprehensive that everyone could actually have a good, robust debate on. They've chosen not to, so it's -- my worry is not that Congress is going to send a bill to the President that he would have to veto; I think our worry is that the Congress, after all of this debate and all of this rhetoric, they are not even going to produce a bill that they could pass.

Q Thank you.

END 11:35 A.M. EDT


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