For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 4, 2001
Press Briefing Index
Biological Weapons Testing.................................2
President's Meetings with Lott and Daschle...............2-5
President's Fall Agenda....................................3
Tax Cut/Budget Surplus............................3-4;6;8-10
Minimum Wage Bill..........................................5
Capital Gains Cut..........................................6
State Visit of President Fox of Mexico...............7;14-15
Social Security Trust Fund...............................7-8
Trade Promotion Authority.................................10
Next Possible Energy-Environment Meeting..................11
Stem Cell Research.....................................11-12
Afghan Refugee Situation..................................13
the White House
Office of the
12:12 P.M. EDT
MR. FLEISCHER: Good afternoon
and welcome to the White House Briefing Room. I have a
lengthy series of personnel announcements that I'll make, and then I'll
be happy to take questions.
The President intends to nominate William
Duffy, Jr. to be United States attorney for the northern district of
Georgia. The President intends to nominate Maxwell Wood to
be United States attorney for the middle district of
Georgia. The President intends to nominate Edward Kubo Jr.
to be United States attorney for the district of Hawaii. The
President intends to nominate Steven Colloton to be United States
attorney for the southern district of Iowa.
The President intends to nominate Donald
W. Washington to be United States attorney for the western district of
Louisiana. The President intends to nominate Thomas DiBiagio
to be United States attorney for the district of
Maryland. The President intends to nominate Jeffrey Gilbert
Collins to be United States attorney for the eastern district of
Michigan. The President intends to nominate Gregory Gordon Lockhart to
be United States attorney for the southern district of Ohio.
The President intends to nominate Sheldon
J. Sperling to be United States Attorney for the eastern district of
Oklahoma. The President intends to nominate Mary Beth
Buchanan to be United States attorney for the western district of
Pennsylvania. The President intends to nominate Daniel G.
Bogden to be United States attorney for the district of Nevada.
Penultimately, the President intends to
nominate Peter W. Hall to be United States attorney for the district of
Vermont. And, finally, the President intends to nominate
Thomas E. Johnston to be United States attorney for the northern
district of West Virginia.
And with that, I'm more than happy to take
Q For the record --
I know you touched on it this morning -- tell us now exactly why we're
conducting biological warfare research, which, I grant, was started
with the Clinton administration only for vaccines, antidotes, not for
biological warfare. And you should go on the record.
MR. FLEISCHER: Helen,
countering the threat of biological weapons is an administration
priority and has been a priority of the United States government for a
number of years. Unfortunately, the biological weapons
threat around the world is growing and it presents a real challenge to
the United States, particularly a challenge in terms of protecting our
men and women in the Armed Forces.
And as a result, we have a broad defense
-- bio-defense capability, that includes medical countermeasures,
detectors and protective systems, all of which are designed to protect
American citizenry and American servicemen and women. The
program is fully in accordance with the Biological Weapons Convention,
and is designed at providing defensive measures to protect our
population and our servicemen and women.
Q And it has
nothing to do with our rejection of this provision for enforcement and
MR. FLEISCHER: It is not
related at all to the protocol, and it is allowable and fully
permissible under the Biological Weapons Convention, which the United
Q Wouldn't it have
been allowed under the protocol?
MR. FLEISCHER: I have no
information on that, Ron, because it has nothing to do with the
Q What do you hope
to get -- what is the purpose of the meetings with Lott and Daschle
MR. FLEISCHER: The President
this afternoon will be meeting with Minority Leader Lott and Majority
Leader Daschle to talk about the fall agenda and the President's hopes
that progress can be made on a host of legislative priorities that
focus on the economy, education, opportunities and security -- security
meaning health security, Social Security, and national security.
It's a very busy fall agenda, but there
are a lot of strong prospects for bipartisan
accomplishment. And that's why the President will meet with
these two leaders.
Q What impact,
legislatively and politically on the President, will the limping
economy and the vanishing surpluses have?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think what the
American people want to know is, is there a plan to deal with these
problems. And I think the American people take comfort in
knowing that the President does have a plan, he has put it into
effect. It's centered around the stimulus for the economy of
a tax relief package, the first part of which went into effect on July
1st when people, particularly those in the 15 percent bracket, received
a lower income tax bracket rate; through the rebate checks of $300 and
$600, which are only now making their way into the economy; and
additional stimulus from tax relief, which is planned on January 1,
2002, as income tax rates come down again for all segments of society.
The President will also call on Senator
Daschle today and others to support trade promotion
authority. Many of the best-paying jobs in America are
trade-related jobs, and it's very important for Congress to send a
signal that they, too, care about the economy, and that's why trade
promotion authority is important.
Q But it's far from
clear that the tax cut is going to jump-start the
economy. You all have been talking about it for quite a
while. Monetary policy -- that was always -- there was fiscal and
monetary policy together, and the economy is still in a
doldrum. The one tangible thing you can say is that the
budget surplus is all but gone, and there's a lot of question about how
you can pay for everything you want to do.
MR. FLEISCHER: Actually, you
know, one of the most tangible things you can say is point to the
estimators in the private sector who, across the political spectrum,
whether they are Democratic or Republican private sector estimators,
believe the tax cut will have a stimulative effect on the
economy. And when they look at their models, they have
actually added to growth as a result of the tax cut. So
whatever growth will take place in this third quarter and fourth
quarter, they believe it will be augmented directly as a result of the
stimulus. And I think there's no question or debate about
But on the question of the surplus, the
size of the surplus and whether that will dry up the money, again I
just want to go over the numbers, because the proof is in the pudding
in the President's budget. And both the congressional CBO, which is
nonpartisan, and the Office of Management and Budget agree that under
the estimates they have, Social Security will not be tapped in
2002. There is plenty of room for growth, to have reasonable
spending increases in the President's budget, while still leaving
Social Security in surplus and the operating budget in the surplus.
In fact, if you just take a look at how
much money the government spent last year, compared to how much they'll
spend in 2002, under the administration's budget, the amount of
spending will grow by $107 billion. Spending in 2001 was $1.8 billion
-- $1.8 trillion. In 2002, it's $1.9 trillion.
So built into the budget is growth and spending at reasonable
levels. If Congress goes beyond those reasonable levels, and
spends too much, then it risks Social Security, and it can have a
detrimental effect on the economy.
Q The Senate
Minority Leader plans to ask for the President's support of capital
gains tax cut. Does the President think a capital gains tax
would stimulate the economy?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the
President looks forward to talking to Senator Lott about that topic, as
well as a number of other topics, and listening to the Senator on ideas
about the fall agenda and beyond. I think it's fair to say
that economists, depending on how a capital gains tax cut is
structured, do believe it can have a positive effect on the
economy. It's early -- very early for the administration, in
terms of its budget cycle for next year. Any ideas he hears
now will be discussed within the White House.
And this fall, there will be a process in
place between the White House and the government agencies to decide
what will go into the President's budget, which he would submit to the
Congress in sometime, most likely winter of 2002. That would
be the budget for 2003.
Q Ari, can you
describe the phone call that the President apparently got from Senator
MR. FLEISCHER: He has not
talked to Senator Gramm.
Q Will this
discussion with Senator Daschle this afternoon -- will this be sort of
an intense discussion, or is it just two potential fighters feeling
each other out?
MR. FLEISCHER: This is part of
their regular consultation. They -- I'm sorry?
Q Are they coming
to each other with a lot of numbers?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think they'll
come to each other the same way they have throughout the year, that
they're going to meet to talk about all of the issues that are pending
before the two of them, and Senator Daschle has been very forthright
about his desire to have bipartisan accomplishment. The President is
heartened to hear that, and that will be the same spirit in which the
President receives the Majority Leader.
Q I guess what I'm
driving at, is this the first negotiating session of them trying to get
the budget bills passed? Appropriations bill?
MR. FLEISCHER: I don't think --
no, you can't refer to this as a negotiating session. Its
point is much broader. The President has been encouraged by
the manner in which Congress has taken up the appropriations bill so
far. They actually so far have been adhering to the spending
limits now that were agreed to in the budget resolution, and that's a
big contrast to last year. And that's a very helpful sign
and hopeful sign that budget integrity has been restored to the process
and that they'll honor the spending limits.
Q Ari, the
Republican view on a minimum wage bill had been that it would be unfair
to do it without some tax breaks for business to ease whatever pain
might ensue. Is that the current White House view?
MR. FLEISCHER: We're going to
look very carefully to work with the Congress on a minimum wage bill to
make certain that it is fair. And the President does, as you
know, support increases in the minimum wage. But there are
talks on the Hill about attaching other items to it, and that all
depends on what items they decide they want to attach.
Q And if I can
follow up. But the thing they wanted to attach was a tax
break -- would be a further revenue loser, and there does not appear to
be any room in the budget at this point for a further tax cut.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, as I
indicated, that's one reason why the administration is willing to hear
specific ideas from people on the Hill if they want to attach anything
to it. And one of the factors that goes into having a tight
budget is it will force restraint on all parties -- not to engage in
excessive spending, and also to review carefully any tax proposals to
make sure that they're meritorious and that they led to growth.
Q But isn't that
the advantage, then, to a cap gains tax cut because it would be scored
as revenue gainer and would actually increase the amount of money
available and would either allow you to do another tax cut or at least
bring in more money?
MR. FLEISCHER: There is no
question, economically speaking, that that has been the history of
capital gains tax cuts, that they do lead to a short-term boost in
revenue. And estimators will differ about the long-term
effects, whether they lose money or gain money over a sustained period
of time. But it's another reason why the President will
welcome the opportunity to listen to leaders on the Hill and hear their
But the President also will remind people
on the Hill that fundamentals are now in place for the economy to come
back as a result of the steps that the administration and the Congress
took together to create economic growth. The current
downturn began in the summer of 2000; here we are entering the fall of
2001. Historically, downturns last of one year, one and a
quarter. It's unusual for them to go much beyond one and a
The combination of the Federal Reserve
interest rates cuts, in concert with the tax cuts, which are now making
their way through the economy, leads the President to believe that all
the fundamentals are in place for the economy to come back and come
Q Over the weekend,
I believe, Conrad had also said that capital gains could be a
stimulative measure, and as you know, Senator Lott has suggested only a
two-year, not a permanent, but a two-year short-term capital gains cut
which, arguably, might not need revenue to gain revenue. Is the White
House more amenable to a short-term capital gains cut than trying to do
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, my
previous answer covers that. That's more of a component or a
subset of the question on capital gains, and I'd refer you back to what
I just said about capital gains.
Q And also, in your
concern for the economy, why does -- or does the White House feel that
funding that -- if you fund legislative priorities by using the Social
Security surplus, that would have an adverse effect on the
economy? Do you believe that, or don't you?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think --
nobody has said it would have an adverse effect on the
economy. Funding projects out of Social Security is
something the President said that he wanted to avoid doing and he
pledged not to do. But the President's broader point is that
if Congress were to, once again, violate a budget agreement that it,
itself, made, and go beyond the spending they agreed to, it's another
sign that Congress is once again returning to the old ways of too much
spending. And that would be a risk for the economy.
Q But didn't he
also say that you could use that in times of war or recession, and his
own OMB Director last year -- last week -- said it would not be
unprecedented to even dip into it with the growth rate of less than 1
percent? It doesn't even have to be a recession.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, under,
actually -- this gets technical, but under the rules of the
Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Emergency Reduction Act, as you know, if you have
two consecutive quarters of less than 1 percent growth, not less than
zero percent growth, but less than 1 percent growth, it does have an
effect on caps and targets on Capitol Hill. So I think
that's what Director Daniels was referring to. But that's
not what the President was talking about when the President talks about
tapping Social Security only in the case of war or recession.
Q This morning --
just for the record, because I know you dealt with it this morning --
will there be a joint press conference with President Bush and
President Fox? And two, who will do the readout of the
meetings that are held tomorrow?
MR. FLEISCHER: There will be a
background briefing today by a senior administration
official. Tomorrow, Dr. Condoleezza Rice will do an
on-the-record, on-camera briefing following the Oval Office meeting, as
well as the meeting of the Cabinet groups that are meeting
together. And then, also on Thursday you can anticipate
President Fox and President Bush having some type of departure remarks
before they leave the South Lawn for Toledo, Ohio.
Q Will they take
MR. FLEISCHER: I think it's
likely they may take a question or two.
Q Will the photo op
be open to scribblers tomorrow? Will the press be in -- will
anybody besides photographers be in the photo op tomorrow?
MR. FLEISCHER: I'll have to
review tomorrow's schedule. I don't remember exactly, Ron,
Q Would the
President reject appropriations measures as they add up and do end up
dipping into the Social Security Trust Fund?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, there's no
doubt that the President has told Congress they need to
adhere to the budget agreement that they had made. If Congress adheres
to those spending limits, then according to both OMB and CBO, it would
not present any problems for Social Security in '02.
Q Exactly. Which is why I'm asking
what if they don't adhere to those spending limits? What's
he going to do --
MR. FLEISCHER: The President
has made it clear that he will veto any bills that bust the budget and
spend too much. The President will protect Social Security
and will protect the economy.
Q Going back to
this -- I know it's logistical, but I think it's been traditional that
when there's a foreign head of state here for a state visit, that there
is a joint news conference where both leaders take several
questions. Why are you guys not doing that?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I've
indicated they're going to have departure statements where they will
take a couple questions, likely take a couple questions.
Q It's not the same
as a news conference, though. Is there a reason why you
don't want to have a regular traditional news conference?
MR. FLEISCHER: You know, I
think we're just using phraseology here. I think you've seen other
news events where each person took three questions, something along
those lines. So we're still working with our Mexican
counterparts on exactly how the arrangements will be made for departure
Q Well, would you
anticipate that it would follow that model, where each side gets
approximately three questions apiece?
MR. FLEISCHER: I anticipate it
will be just as I indicated, that they will have departure statements
and take a couple questions on departure. I'm not prepared yet to
speculate on the exact number of questions they will take.
Q Also, Ari, given
the new surplus numbers, is the President considering preparing to back
out of his education or military spending requests for FY 2002, or at
the very least finding new offsets for the spending?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's why I
went to the trouble of citing page 40 in the President's Office of
Management and Budget Midsession Review. And it's very
important to realize that the reason government spends money is not
because it has a surplus, but because it has spending projections that
build the increases into the budget.
For example, under the President's budget
for 2001 to 2002, defense spending is projected to go up from $303
billion to $330 billion. That's a $27-billion increase in
just that year. And we still have a $2 billion surplus
outside of Social Security. Education funding built into the
President's budget is slated to go up from $64.2 billion to $75.5
billion for education, training, employment and social
services. So there are spending increases to fund the vital
priorities that the President has identified in defense and education,
for example, are built into a budget that increases.
After those increases are taken into
account, then you have a surplus. And it's called a surplus because
it's not needed because it's on top of the existing
priorities. So the President's budget makes plenty of room
to fund vital government programs at a healthy rate of growth while
still leaving a surplus. The only threat to the surplus is
if Congress would go too far and spend too much.
Q So there will be
no -- you don't think there's any need to pare those programs back,
given that there are going to be a lot of other new spending requests,
the appropriations process has its own momentum?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, these are
the President's priorities and this is what he believes in.
But I want to disabuse people of that
notion that just because the surplus has been reduced to the
second-largest surplus in history, there isn't room for increased
funding on vital government priorities. The surplus exists
only after those spending increases are taken into effect and are made
part and partial of the existing budget. The surplus is not
necessary beyond that to have money to spend because it's already been
built into the spending projections.
Q When you say the
surplus is not needed, does that mean that the White House no longer
considers debt reduction --
MR. FLEISCHER: No, I said the
surplus is not needed beyond that to take into account the spending
increases as part of the budget. I'm not saying the surplus
is not needed.
Q You would
consider debt reduction a need and a high priority, still?
MR. FLEISCHER: As a matter of
fact, it will be, under the existing budget, debt will be reduced by
more than $100 billion this year. But don't turn the meaning
of my words. I didn't say the surplus was not
necessary. I said the surplus is not -- spending doesn't
derive from a surplus; spending derives from the decisions somebody
makes after those decisions are made to increase education, increase
defense. What remains is the surplus. And the
government still remains with the second largest surplus in history,
and expect it to get larger next year.
Q That's the Social
Security surplus, it's not the non-Social Security surplus.
MR. FLEISCHER: It's both, of
Q But it's a
non-Social Security surplus. You have maybe $2 billion this
year and --
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the
unified surplus is the second- largest in history. The
unified surplus is the second-largest surplus in history. And David's
point is it's as the result of a unified surplus that we're able to
reduce so much debt.
Q But your platform
had been that the Social Security surplus is off limits for any other
kind of spending, so only the non-Social Security surplus is what you
can use to fund your legislative priorities, right?
MR. FLEISCHER: And that has
Q You're confident
there will be enough in there to fund everything you want?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, just as I
indicated, spending will go from $1.8 trillion to $1.9 trillion from
'01 to '02. After accounting for $100 billion increase in
spending, the government still has a surplus in its operating accounts
after spending, an additional $100 billion on important government
Q That surplus is
$2 billion this year, $1 billion the next year -- that's not a lot of
wiggle room, and it sounds like you're saying my way or the highway,
either it's my priorities and Congress really doesn't get a share in
saying what to do with that tiny extra surplus. And if they
step over the line, it's their fault.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the
President will always work with the Congress to help meet his
priorities. But not a lot of wiggle --
Q To meet his
MR. FLEISCHER: But not a lot of
wiggle room means that Congress has a fiscal straitjacket imposed upon
itself. Not a bad outcome.
Q On trade
promotion authority, there have been suggestions from many in the
Senate, I think including Daschle, that it might be a good idea to vote
on that next year, while the House does it this year. Is
that what he's going to do today, insist to Daschle --
MR. FLEISCHER: On which issue?
Q -- on trade
promotion authority. Is he going to insist that the Senate
should finish that bill this year as well?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President
believes that Congress should take up trade promotion authority and
pass it this fall. The President thinks failure to pass
trade promotion authority this fall would be a retreat from the United
States' role in the world. That would hurt the economy and
it would be an unwise delay that could hinder their chances of getting
trade promotion authority passed. And I think you're going
to see action in the House of Representatives this fall, and once the
House acts, I think it might be very hard for the Senate to drag its
feet on an item that important.
Q Speaking of the
U.S. role in the world, when is the next task force meeting on energy
and environment and getting the agenda together for the Marrakech
meeting, or a Kyoto alternative?
MR. FLEISCHER: The
Cabinet-level work group has been continuing its efforts working on an
alternative to Kyoto or ideas for what to present. As you know, there
is no hard deadline about when they are going to have the results done,
whether it would be before or after Marrakech.
Q When is the next
MR. FLEISCHER: I'll have to get
back to you on specific dates.
Q On stem cell
research, Senator Kennedy is having meetings on
that. There's a question of there not being enough stem cell
lines that are viable. What if there aren't enough viable
stem cell lines? Will the White House consider changing its
MR. FLEISCHER: The President
welcomes the congressional focus on stem cell. The White
House looks forward to Congress reviewing the same issues that the
President looked at in terms of how to advance science and lead to
medical breakthroughs in a way that represents the moral fiber of our
nation -- people who are concerned about research that comes at the
price of destroying embryos.
So I think it's highly likely that
Congress is going to get itself into the very same issues that the
President looked at and saw, that there are two very important sides
here. And from the President's point of view, what's
foremost important for Congress to remember is that under what
President Bush announced, for the first time we are now a nation that
is going to spend federal research dollars on stem cell research.
It was previously prohibited, and
according to the National Institute of Health, there are some 60 to 64
lines that can receive funding for stem cell research, which is a
dramatic step forward from where our nation was just one year ago, in
advancing the cause of science, and research in whether or not there is
hope for breakthroughs in disease.
Q Two international
ones, please. On the Durban Conference, why do you think the
groups meeting in Durban have been so harsh on Israel, but they have
not, to my knowledge, criticized any other countries, such as Sudan,
Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, or some of the others?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I would
hesitate to assign motive, but it is an unfortunate throwback to the
old days where these conferences worked in a counterproductive
fashion. This has been a lost opportunity for America and
for people throughout the world who are concerned about
racism. And it's unfortunate that people in this conference
brought it to the point where America and Israel had no choice but to
leave the conference. And this has been a lost opportunity
for people throughout the world who are concerned about racism.
Q If I could just
follow up, you wouldn't call what happened there motivated by
MR. FLEISCHER: Oh, I think
there's no question that in a conference that should have been
dedicated to fighting intolerance, the language that it has chosen to
use in describing Israel is laced with intolerance.
Q On the situation
with the Afghan refugees in the Indian Ocean, do you have any thoughts
on that, on the conduct of the various countries involved?
MR. FLEISCHER: I've got nothing
to offer on that right now, at this moment.
Q Ari, the
following statement was directed to the presidency.
Quote: We have an 18-year-old son. We are trying
to teach him to be responsible for his actions. You need
role models. And my question: The President would
not disagree with that, would he, that the Presidents and governors
need to be good role models?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think he would
appreciate, given the questioner, the context of the
Q Okay. It was a statement made by
Governor Glendening about President Clinton. And Maryland's
Republican Chairman, Michael Steele, has just called on Governor
Glendening and his staffer, Jennifer Crawford, "whose salary the
Governor has increased nearly $32,000 in less than three years, should
reimburse the state treasury for the expenses they incurred on official
trips while carrying on their clandestine personal
relationship." And to quote my question: since the President
spoke out on the ethical problems of Little League baseball --
(laughter) -- surely, Ari, the President won't fail to support this
great GOP chairman and his concern about taxpayers' money being used by
this married Governor for salary hiking and travel for his mistress,
will he, Ari?
MR. FLEISCHER: Lester, I have
nothing further to report since you asked the question last week.
Q Well, I mean,
this is a different thing. This is a thing that was directed
towards the President. Now, surely if he's going to speak
out on Little League, he's surely going to speak out on Big
Maryland. There's more money involved in this, more misuse
MR. FLEISCHER: I have not heard
the President speak out on that topic.
Q Ari, since the
U.S. team in China now have failed to convince the Chinese not to sell
missile technology to Pakistan or other countries, and the tensions are
there on the two countries, and Chinese and Pakistan company, if China
fails again to fulfill its promises, that means that sanctions can go
beyond companies to the countries?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, as you
know, the United States acted in accordance with the law in sanctioning
the Chinese company that provided technology to
Pakistan. There is no question that the law is clear on that
matter, and that any foreign entity that is involved in the transfer of
controlled ballistic missile technology to what is called non-missile
technology control regime countries -- and that's what happened in this
case -- must be sanctioned. And the President followed the
law in that matter.
And this is an indication of what the
President has previously said, that in our dealings with China there
are going to be aspects that are very positive that we will continue to
develop, and we will. Those typically center around trade
and trade-related issues. But other issues that involve
proliferation of weaponry, or involve human rights abuses, the United
States will continue to act and continue to speak out.
Q Are there any
reactions from those two countries?
MR. FLEISCHER: You may want to
check with State on the reaction.
Q Hey, Ari, I know
there's going to be a background briefing, but on the record, there's
been a lot said in the last few days sort of tamping down expectations
on this meeting. President Fox himself, in a series of
interviews yesterday, suggested that. Is the President
looking at this as basically a symbolic opportunity to underscore the
friendship -- two countries, little more than that?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the
President is looking forward to the meeting to underscore the
friendship between the United States and Mexico, which is far from
symbolic. It's real, and it's tangential, and it's helped
the American people, it's helped the American economy, and it's helped
the Mexican people in their economy as well. I think it's a
reflection that President Bush, having come from a border state, grown
up in Texas and been Governor of Texas, has a very deep and personal
appreciation for the importance that Mexico plays in the American way
So he looks forward to welcoming the
President of Mexico to the United States, for his first-ever state
visit. And that's the context in which President Fox will be
Q Does he agree
with President Fox's assessment that any kind of meaningful immigration
reform is going to be four to six years off?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I'm not
sure exactly what the number of years will be. That very
well may be the case. But what's important from President
Bush's point of view is to continue to make progress and do so
immediately. And that's why he has directed Secretary Powell
and General Ashcroft to be working on this initiative, and how to
welcome immigrants to the United States in a legal, humane and safe
way. And it will take additional work.
Q Ari, is it your
view on this, there were much higher expectations when this first came
up a few months ago. Have there been things that you would
point to that have slowed down the process on this? Is it
political opposition on Capitol Hill? What's the problem
MR. FLEISCHER: I think it's a
reflection of the complicated nature of immigration issues, that all
good intentions are also met by a very interesting reality on the
ground, involving the rights of people to come to the United States and
the obligations on people to come here legally, while recognizing that
America has benefitted nicely from millions of people who have come
here, who pay taxes here and are contributing to the American economy.
12:38 P.M. EDT