Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, February 19, 2004 (Full Transcript)Last night -- Scott, last night Senator Daschle, and a handful of other Democrats, asked, in a letter to the President, if he would update the economic forecast in connection with the jobs and the economic report. What's the President's response to that request?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the President is focused on doing more to create an even more robust environment for job creation. That's where the President's focus is on. Presidents and congressional leaders make policy decisions. And that's where the discussion should be. And the policies that this President has pursued are working to strengthen our economy and to create a robust environment for job creation. New jobs are being created. There are some 366,000 new jobs that were created in the last five months. Unemployment is declining. GDP is strong. We're seeing sustained economic growth.
But the President is not satisfied. The President believes there is more to do, and he calls on Congress to focus on acting on his proposals to strengthen the economy even more. That's where these leaders should focus their attention, on acting to create as robust an environment as possible for job creation, so that we can create as many jobs as possible. I mean, the forecast you point to, it was a snapshot in time. It was based on the data available at that point in time.
QUESTION: They're asking if the snapshot could be updated.
MR. McCLELLAN: It's done annually in the President's Economic Report. It's been done that way for some 21 years. That's why it was put forward in the economic report. I think you'll see -- I think you see lots of forecasts from economists that are updated all the time, based on available economic data. This President is focused on one thing, and that is creating as robust an environment as possible for job creation. He is encouraged by the direction the economy is going. And this debate ought to focus on the policy decisions that are being made. And the policies that we are pursuing are working.
QUESTION: One last question. Would he make the CEA -- Council of Economic Advisors available to congressional committees for a verbal update?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think where Congress ought to spend their time is working to act on policies that strengthen our economy even more. That's what we would call on these congressional leaders to do, is to get behind our efforts to create as robust an environment as possible for job creation. That's where their focus ought to be, because we are the policymakers, we are the decision-makers. And this President acts decisively to create as robust an environment as possible for job creation and economic growth.
February 13, 2004 Press Briefing
QUESTION: Scott, in connection with the road show by Snow and Evans and so forth, to the Northwest next week, the consumer sentiment index came out today. It showed quite a big drop. It fell to 93.1, from 103 in December. Now the President spoke yesterday in Pennsylvania, talking about the job retraining program and so forth. Is there anything else he has in mind to get jobs moving, beyond the six-point plan?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, for Congress to act on the six-point plan and to act on the initiatives he outlined in his State of the Union address -- on health care, on jobs and education -- or on job training and education, the ones that I mentioned at the beginning.
QUESTION: But is he concerned that beyond -- anything beyond --
MR. McCLELLAN: One of the most important things the Congress can do to help strengthen our economy even more is to make the tax cuts permanent. That's a very important part of strengthening our economy even more and creating a more robust environment for job growth. The last thing we need to do is increase taxes. And if those expire, that's what would happen. It would be increasing taxes. We need to provide certainty to the American people, so that they can plan for their futures. And the President trusts in people, and that's why he believes that those decisions about spending and investing in the future are best made by people, not the government.