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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
September 8, 2008

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

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11:05 A.M. EDT

MS. PERINO: Good morning. The President will make remarks at 1:10 p.m. today on the South Lawn, on volunteerism; a word about that. After 9/11, President Bush called on all Americans to serve their communities, their nation, and the world. In his 2002 State of the Union address he announced the creation of USA Freedom Corps, and also called for every American to commit at least two years -- which is 4,000 hours -- to the service of their neighbors and their nation.

Today the President will host an event that highlights USA Freedom Corps and honors America's volunteers who serve at home and abroad. During his remarks to over 1,800 volunteers the President will point out a few facts. One, in 2002, the administration became the first to conduct a regular survey of volunteerism through the U.S. Census Bureau. And because we have begun to measure we now know some facts that we didn't know before, such as nearly 61 million Americans now give their time to help their neighbors. That's an increase of more than 1 million since 2002.

His administration has helped Americans answer the call to service by creating the Citizen Corps, which now has nearly 1 million volunteers, and a new program called Volunteers for Prosperity. The administration has strengthened AmeriCorps, and today more than 74,000 people serve their fellow citizens through that organization.

The administration has also expanded Peace Corps. Since 2002, the administration has provided this great program with its highest level of funding in history, and we have increased the number of Peace Corps volunteers and have opened or reopened programs in 13 programs.

Finally, he will note that since the post-Katrina uptick up in volunteerism, things have started to taper off. Today he will repeat his call for Americans to devote 4,000 hours over their lifetimes in service to their fellow citizens.

Also a word about the housing matter. I'm sure you saw the announcement yesterday that the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, determined that these housing mortgage companies could not continue to operate in a way that was safe and sound and still fulfill their public mission to support housing.

And so FA and Secretary Paulson announced a plan to take over and prevent further deterioration from affecting the broader economy, especially the availability of credit for home mortgages, consumer credit, and business lending.

The plan that Secretary Paulson outlined had three very important goals: first and foremost, promoting market stability; ensuring the availability and affordability of home mortgages; and protecting the taxpayer. The President is confident that these are the appropriate goals, and that the plan outlined will be successful.

Throughout these discussions, the President was continuously briefed by Secretary Paulson, and discussed the policy options. The President gave Secretary Paulson his full support to put the right plan in place to protect the U.S. economy.

This is not a step that the administration was anxious to take. And in fact, it is exactly the kind of event we've warned about and tried to prevent over the years. Remember that we have highlighted the systemic risk posed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because of the very large role they play in housing markets, and because of their business practices.

And for years we have encouraged Congress to put in place a strong, independent regulator to oversee the institutions. We believe the actions will help to improve conditions in the housing market. Our economy will not return to a strong job growth until the housing correction is behind us. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are critical to turning the corner on housing, and so it's important that in a plan the primary mission of Fannie and Freddie be to work to increase the availability and affordability of mortgage finance.

The plan also gives time for Congress and the next administration to determine the appropriate role of the companies in the future. Whatever eventual long-term solution is decided for Fannie Mac and Freddie Mac, it is crucial that they are reformed so that they do not pose similar risks to our economy or the financial system again.

And finally, today we welcome back to Washington D.C., members of Congress who have been on their August recess. There's much work to be done, and not a lot of time to do it in. There are many legislative priorities that we have. And we would like to work with Congress in a bipartisan way to deal with things like appropriations bills; energy bill -- one that would allow for increased safe, environmentally friendly production of oil on the Outer Continental Shelf, improved technologies so that we could access oil shale, refinery expansion, and extending renewable energy tax credits. There's the highway trust fund that needs to be dealt with. There are judges that need to be confirmed. There's FAA authorization. There's the AMT and the tax extender issue, not to mention the free trade agreements, U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement, NATO expansion for Croatia and Albania, and U.S.-UK and U.S.-Australia defense trade cooperation treaties.

That is not an exhaustive list, but it does provide you an idea of how much work Congress needs to get done within the next three weeks.

With that, I'll go to questions. Ben.

Q Dana, on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, you've outlined the risk to taxpayers and the economy if these companies were to fail. But what about the risk to taxpayers now that the government has taken them over and assumed that debt? Is that a risk that the White House is concerned about?

MS. PERINO: President Bush thinks that the move that Secretary Paulson worked on is the right move at the right time. And this is not action that we wanted to take, it's action that we needed to take. The goal is to prevent additional risk to the taxpayers, and in this plan Secretary Paulson has moved forward to make sure that the taxpayers would be paid back first. If you're a shareholder or you're top management of these companies today, it's not a very bright day for you. And taxpayer money will be safeguarded to the greatest extent possible.

Secretary Paulson and others made the determination in working through the options, and then finally talking with the President, that this was the best way to prevent a broader financial problem for our capital markets here in the United States, but also globally.

Q And just to follow up on that, about the administration not being anxious to take that step, why is that? Could you flesh out a little bit more what the concern is or why this is a step that the administration was hesitant to take?

MS. PERINO: Well, going back years, this administration has advocated for reforms of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Congress has been reluctant to move forward on those for many years, and in fact, didn't even take it real seriously until this crisis emerged -- and we finally got some of that legislation I think in early August or late July.

The reason that we're -- we didn't want to have to take this action is we prefer for Congress to take care of its own business. Remember, these are congressionally chartered companies, and it's appropriate that Congress have a role in saying how they're going to move forward in the future. And that's why Congress will have a chance when they get back over this next period and also into the next administration to decide how to move forward with them.

Q Dana, could you expand a bit, in terms of the President's sort of philosophical underpinning -- this is not exactly limited government, this takeover. So how concerned was he -- just in terms of conservative political ideology, how concerned was he about doing something that seems to be sort of the opposite of all of that?

MS. PERINO: Well, it's again -- President Bush initiated a call years ago to try to reform this system because he did not want the status quo to continue. Unfortunately, Congress didn't act on that. And the systemic risk that was posed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to our entire economy was one that the President felt it was more important to deal with now, and start to work on now, so that the next administration would be able to work with the Congress and figure out a way to make sure that this would not be allowed to happen again. And so far, cooperation with Congress since this announcement has been very good.

Q But, I mean, I imagine it's -- there are -- does this mark a change in the President's thinking, in terms of there are times where you do need big government action and intervention?

MS. PERINO: Remember, these are congressionally chartered companies, so the government is involved in these companies whether we've liked it or not.

Q There's a difference between charger and take over.

MS. PERINO: It became clear that these companies were not going to be able to continue to function the way that they were, and that the whole system was at risk -- not only here in our country, but also affecting global markets. And so given that they were already part of a quasi-federal government agency, it's only appropriate that the President take this action. And Secretary Paulson, he believes, came up with the right mix with this conservatorship -- which I'm not an expert in, but Secretary Paulson has spoken about it today.

Q Was there ever -- or to what degree were you hearing, was the White House hearing from opponents of the idea? How much push back was there about doing something like a big takeover?

MS. PERINO: As I said, I think that the cooperation we've had from members of Congress and from the companies, themselves, is emblematic of the fact that people recognized that the status quo was not going to suffice anymore.

And the turmoil that would have resulted from a failure of these two companies would have directly impacted households everywhere -- household wealth, our buying power, our ability to save for college or our savings for retirement, ability to get loans -- not just home loans, but auto loans -- everything that makes our economy work. So the President thought it was absolutely appropriate that we move forward. And as I said, the cooperation so far has been very good.

Q It's up to about $200 billion that's being guaranteed by this. What's the expectation of the administration about how much will -- how much taxpayer money will actually have to -- you'll actually have to come up with to help secure these companies?

MS. PERINO: I'll refer you to Secretary Paulson, who said this morning that -- he said it would be as little as possible, and I think the initial request was for $5 billion, but up to $200 billion. He said he doesn't know yet what that would ultimately be. But what he does know is that as soon as these companies start to turn around, it is the taxpayers who will be paid back first, not the shareholders.

Q And the money, however much it ends up being, is just going to be borrowed or is there another way to --

MS. PERINO: I'll refer you to Treasury for details; I don't know.

Q And what happened -- about six weeks ago, toward late July you said that there was not an expectation that you would have to do this. What happened in the interim that made it necessary for this to occur?

MS. PERINO: I think -- I would refer you to Treasury for details as to what they were looking at. But remember, we asked for a strong regulator who would go in and be able to look at the books in a full, transparent way. And over the past several weeks it became clear that they were not going to be able to continue to function and that this action was necessary.

Go ahead, Sheryl.

Q Just sort of following on Jim's question, you talked about the next administration would determine what the appropriate role is for these companies. Was the President uncomfortable at the outset with even the idea of these as quasi-governmental agencies? Is there a philosophical uneasiness with having the government play even a limited role? And I'm wondering is this kind of a bitter pill for him to have to swallow, that now the government has to take over the whole thing?

MS. PERINO: Well, look, he didn't create government-sponsored entities, these were -- he inherited them.

Q Right. Was he uneasy with that?

MS. PERINO: Well, he was uneasy with the whole system, which is why in 2002, I think it was, that he first recommended wholesale changes of GSEs -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- because he fundamentally thought that it didn't work.

But it's not something he invented, and so he was trying to work best with the Congress to figure out a way to reform it so that we wouldn't have to take such actions. As I said, this is not action that we wanted to take, it was action that Secretary Paulson and others, working with the President, determined that we needed to take.

So I would refer you back to what he had -- years ago he and members of his administration thought that we needed to make some changes. We do believe that the best way for this to move forward is to have Congress look at how they really want to be involved in the future. This was allowed to get out of control. And President Bush believes that however Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are addressed by either this Congress or the next administration, it is crucial that they not be set up in the same way as they were before.

Q Can you talk to us about some of the steps the President took since 2002, other than simply saying he wanted Congress to reform, to actually --

MS. PERINO: We proposed legislation -- we proposed legislation. We tried to move forward. I mean, there's lots of different ways, but there's only so much in our system that an executive branch can do when these are congressionally chartered agencies. You have to have congressional buy-in, you have congressional action.

And just the intrinsic nature of the way that the housing industry was woven into the fabric of inside the beltway was hard to break loose. But I think that, going to Jim's question, as you said, the fact that we have had good cooperation since this announcement was made, I think is symbolic of the fact that everyone releases that this was not a game that could continue to be played. And it had to be changed fundamentally.

Q And just, finally, one more. Was Vice President Cheney involved in this decision-making at all?

MS. PERINO: I know that he has been -- he had been briefed on it, and he had been a part of the economic lunch before. But he's been away this past week, as you know.

Q So is it fair to ask going forward why these entities should even exist as government-sponsored entities?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that'll be a question that everyone's going to have to look towards. But one of the things we know that we need is the ability for affordable mortgage loans to be available, widely available to Americans.

And I am not an expert in that area, although I do have a mortgage. (Laughter.) So I'd refer you to the Treasury Department for how they're going to move forward. And I think a lot of smart people will get together. A lot of analysis will be done. And I think, hopefully, people will take a real sober assessment of how they should move forward, because taxpayer dollars are at risk, but also our fundamental economy; not just our economy, but the world economy was at risk. And so this was action that we had to take.


Q Dana, I have two questions. One is you mentioned in your opening comments that the President was continually briefed by Secretary Paulson about this. Did the White House, did the President, did the President's economic staff have any role in crafting the actual details of the plan, or was this basically a Treasury --

MS. PERINO: I'll see if we can get that for you. But I believe a lot of -- most of it was developed at the Treasury Department, where they have the experts. And also at OFHEO, the housing agency.

Q And just in the same vein, did the -- in terms of the President's instruction to the Secretary of the Treasury, did he in the last month or two have any specific guidelines or principles that he wanted the Secretary to follow, in terms of how he approached this?

MS. PERINO: I think President Bush and Secretary Paulson are of like minds in that, one, they want our economy to grow; They want actions to be taken to make sure it can grow. Two, we have to get through this housing crisis, and President Bush has been very pleased with the HOPE NOW program and FHA Secure, ways that our administration has tried to help Americans stay in their homes. He trusts Secretary Paulson. He likes the fact that he can have very blunt and candid conversations from such an expert in the financial world.

So they speak sometimes multiple times a day and the administration -- in our administration we've been able to have great cooperation between our economic staff here at the White House and at the Treasury Department, amongst other agencies, including HUD or at the OFHEO.


Q Dana, would the President have preferred a permanent, long-term fix, or is that just the reality of the political calendar that you needed something to fix it for short-term and then let the next administration, next-timers do it?

MS. PERINO: You know, what I can tell you is President Bush thinks that this measure, to take the companies under conservatorship, was the right way to go at this time.


Q In the Woodward book the President is quoted as saying that a surge would also help here at home, since for many a measure of success is a reduction in violence. What role, if any, did domestic politics play in the formulation of the surge?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think -- you know, I haven't read the book. I think what that would refer to would be that the President has said multiple times that it's very important that your country understand what the Commander-in-Chief is asking its military to do. And clearly Americans want to win wherever we send our troops, and we don't want our troops to be put in harm's way, where they don't have a clear strategy to win. I think that's probably what it's referring to.

Q It also says that Generals Casey and Abizaid lost the confidence of the President. Is that true?

MS. PERINO: Why don't you ask Generals Casey and Abizaid that. I don't think that it's true, but it's not something that I'm going to answer from here.

Q Since we're on Woodward, the overall impression is left that the decision to go forward with the surge was one that was taken despite strong opposition at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top military leadership. What do you -- is that an accurate portrayal?

MS. PERINO: I do think that it is.* I think that the surge is no doubt one of the most important foreign policy and military decisions that have been made in a generation. And it was fundamental to the change that we have seen today in Iraq. We are working now to cement those gains and to be able to continue to watch Iraq evolve into a country that can sustain, govern and defend itself.

Having been here and watched somewhat from -- you know, from the outside, from the press office watching this policy development process develop over a couple of months, three months, where people were working around the clock, he brought together -- Steve Hadley and the President brought together the most -- the best minds in military strategy, in economic strategy -- from the State Department, from DOD, from all different places to pull together and try to figure out what was the strategy that would help us win. And that's the strategy that we ultimately ended up with.

I think that when it comes to this book, I don't necessarily think that the conclusions are supported by a lot of the facts in the book. The surge was not just about sending 30,000 troops; it was a fundamental change in the way that we were working to secure the population, for example. And sometimes in Washington when you can't attack the results of something you attack a process.

I would submit to you that President Bush initiated and oversaw a very comprehensive, thorough, well-managed process that in some cases and some people might say that it was too slow in its development. But when you are making a decision where you are asking young men and women to put their lives on the line, that it was the right type of assessment. It was sober; it was very clear-eyed; it was brutal in terms of the amount of hours.

And I also take issue with the notion about a war within. I can't imagine that anybody in Washington would be shocked that if you bring people together to talk about one of the most difficult problems in our time, that they might have a disagreement over what is the best option. And in fact, we should all want that to happen.

In addition, there is no possible way that you can have such a debate in public. We're not going to have this debate on CNN or FOX or MSNBC or ABC, CBS, NBC. There's just no way to do that. There are discussions that need to be taken in very private quarters so that everybody can feel confident that what they're saying and laying out there on the table will be held in confidence, and that the President can get the best advice and not be constrained by any options that might be put on the table.

Thankfully, the policy that the President decided on and announced on January 10, 2007 has been the right one. And now the President is weighing his options for the next announcement in terms of troop levels in Iraq. And I, last week, said that that would be likely this week. I'm going to upgrade that to probable this week, and we'll probably have more for you within the next day or so.

Q But what does it say about the judgment of the military leadership of the country that what you're calling the most important foreign policy national security decision of a generation faced near unanimous opposition from the top military leaders?

MS. PERINO: Well, I would be -- I would caution you that it was near unanimous. I would also point out that President Bush showed tremendous leadership to be able to ask, what are the other options? What else could we do? How can we win?

Remember, a lot of conversation during that time was from members of Congress saying that we are losing and we should leave. And the President instead said, it is tough, it is horrific in terms of the violence, but we are staying, and how can we win? And that was the conversation that went -- that took place those last several months of 2006 and resulted in the policy of the surge.

Q President Sarkozy said just a little while ago that it appears that he's reached a deal for Russian troops to move out of the buffer zones in Georgia. Any reaction to that? And would that have any impact on the civilian nuclear agreement that seems to be on hold and potentially withdrawn?

MS. PERINO: I saw that Reuters report, so congratulations on getting -- I don't believe -- I don't know that we've had an update from the French in terms of their meetings. So let us get that for you and respond. On the Russia 1-2-3 agreement, I don't have anything for you yet, but all the reporting that I've seen on it is pretty accurate in terms of the direction this is going. And I don't think that any -- that today's announcement would change that, but I'll check with State Department.

Q Okay. And the Indian agreement, how does the White House see proceeding with that, given the -- you mentioned the congressional timeline is short, has a 30-day legislative gestation period. What do you see the strategy for going forward?

MS. PERINO: This is an agreement that has enjoyed wide bipartisan approval for the period of time that we've been working on it. It really does deepen the U.S.-India relationship on many levels, and it will help meet India's surging energy needs, as well as help us bring India along as a solution to helping solve the challenges that we face on global climate change. It increases jobs for Indians and for Americans. It increases innovation and competition. Civil nuclear energy is the way of the future if we want to power this country in a way that is clean, renewable, and does not emit greenhouse gases.

We urge Congress to act soon on this important measure. Secretary Rice and her team will be working very closely with members of Congress over the next several weeks to see if we can get this done in a timely fashion. I would say that signs for it to be able to pass are good, given the bipartisan support it's enjoyed in the past. I don't think that anything has changed in that regard. So if they are able to get anything done, this could be one of them.


Q Are we going to hear a troop reduction announcement tomorrow?

MS. PERINO: I just said last week I said it was likely, and now I think it's probable that you'll hear it this week, possibly as early as tomorrow -- I should say likely, even probable tomorrow. Let me see if can get you more. I don't know if the President has made a final decision yet, and once we do we'll be able to get that to you right away.

Q Is Iraq the subject of the speech?

MS. PERINO: Iraq and Afghanistan, yes.

Q Just to summarize on the economy again, where does -- is the White House concerned about getting enough money to support the trillion dollars for the mortgage bailout, the war against terrorism, national disasters? Would the President recommend raising taxes for the next administration?

MS. PERINO: The President does not recommend raising taxes. And the next -- and the candidates can decide for themselves how they want to announce it. I know where my candidate stands on taxes, and that's why I think we need to be -- remember, on the disasters, for the natural disasters, we've replaced the Disaster Recovery Fund -- it's called the DRF -- we replenished it to $3 billion in May during the supplemental, which is something that we wanted to do after the depletions from the previous natural disasters. So I think we're in pretty good shape when it comes to being able to help both prepare and respond to these natural disasters.

Q But right now where the government stands, where the White House stands, there's enough money to have both a guns and butter economy?

MS. PERINO: We're comfortable with where we are, but what we want to see is a return to job growth, which will help fuel those receipts into the Treasury Department.

I'm going to go to April, and then I'm going to come down that way. April -- because you're so impatient. (Laughter.)

Q I'm impatient, too. (Laughter.)

MS. PERINO: April wins. April.

Q Okay, yes. Dana, going back to the economy and Freddie and Fannie, you're saying that you've taken this step -- the Bush administration has taken this step to cut into the broader effects of the economy. Where is this economy standing now, and what were you looking at, the effects that could happen, if you did not take this action? If you --

MS. PERINO: Well, I wouldn't speculate, except for that if these companies would have failed, we would have had even broader concerns in the economy. In fact, the hit on the --

Q The question --

MS. PERINO: I'm not going to forecast that way. You can talk to economists who can tell you either way what they think. But I think the widespread reaction to our announcement is that this was the right move at the right time in order to help shore up the economy. We need to get past this housing downturn that we've had, and this is one of the ways that we can do that. So that should help the overall economy as well.

Q And also, on another question, 9/11, the anniversary, this President's last remembrance of 9/11 as President -- what should the nation expect from this White House leading into this remembrance?

MS. PERINO: Well, President Bush is very pleased that he's going to be at the dedication for the opening of the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial. And so he'll be there on Thursday morning.

Q Anything else? I mean, this is his last one, and it happened under his watch.

MS. PERINO: I think September 11th will always be a day that lives in the President's mind every single day. He has never once forgot it since September 11th; he wakes up every day thinking about it and goes to bed thinking about it. He has the most solemn obligation of anyone in the world, which is to protect American citizens from another attack. Thankfully we've been able to do that, but we know that these terrorists are out there plotting, planning, and that they have to be right only once; we have to be right every single time.

So even when he's not President anymore, I am sure that he will think about it every day, especially as we approach an anniversary where you take time to reflect on what the families have gone through these past seven years. And there's nothing that he will be able to say or do that will heal the hole in their heart, but he will try on Thursday to hold up their memory so that all of us can pause and reflect on it.


Q A couple for you. First, following up on Jeremy's question about the India nuclear deal, is there an explicit or even implicit understanding between the United States and India that a nuclear test by India would void the agreement, put it on hold, or in any way affect it?

MS. PERINO: I'm going to -- I'll just have to get back to you on that one.

Q And there's reports of another missile strike in Pakistan by either U.S. or coalition forces based in Afghanistan. This is now -- I know you're not commenting about the details of these reports, but why shouldn't we conclude that there's a pretty dramatic escalation of coalition operations in that border region over the past month or so?

MS. PERINO: What I would point you to is the increased cooperation between the Pakistanis, the Afghanistan -- the Afghanis, and the United States, and also our NATO allies; and everybody recognizing that this is a fight we need to have. And I would also point you to the fact that this Pakistani civilian government is now more fully stood up and stabilizing and taking more action along with us.


Q Can I just clarify quickly one point on Iraq? I took you to mean that an announcement on the next step in Iraq from the President is probable, except the timing. Brianna asked, I thought, about is an announcement on troop withdrawals likely, and you said -- did you mean that that's probable -- the substance --

MS. PERINO: I just meant that the announcement is likely today or tomorrow.

Go ahead, Mark.

Q Dana, there's a lawsuit being filed today about the Vice President's official papers. In the administration view, are those papers covered by the Presidential Records Act, do you know?

MS. PERINO: I'll check in terms of the constitutional law aspects of those papers. We'll get back to you.


Q We've heard from the President countless times that the best people to make recommendations about the conduct of the war are people on the ground, the people in the military. How does that square with his -- the way he decided the surge? Was he perhaps before that over-reliant on people in the military and on the ground?

MS. PERINO: How do you know that there weren't people that were on the ground in the military or at the Pentagon that were actually recommending what we ultimately ended up with?

Q Well, General Casey, the Joint Chiefs of Staff --

Q But the --

MS. PERINO: I think that they were tough decisions that were made and the President did a lot of work and in fact spent a lot of time overturning every stone to figure out if this was the right move to make. And eventually everyone came aboard and they have implemented flawlessly from the Pentagon, in terms of getting Iraq back to a secure footing, and where we are allowed now to bring troops home based on success.

Q Did he do too little of that potentially earlier, and relied too much on these senior military leaders? And could that be part of what got us in trouble there?

MS. PERINO: I don't believe so, no. I think that this has a lot more to do with the terrorists and the extremists and what happened in February of 2006 with the Golden Mosque bombing and the sectarian violence that spiraled out of control from there, than it does about us.

Look, wars are unpredictable. You have to change strategy at some point -- at some points along the way. And you saw that when it came to Iraq. You have to be flexible. And there's lots of different parts to these wars, too. This is not a military fight alone. There was an economic, a political and diplomatic surge at the same time. It was not just sending 30,000 more troops. It was fundamentally changing the approach.

Q And despite the way he decided the surge, he still believes that the military is -- and the people on the ground are the best people, in the best position, as he often puts it, to advise him on that?

MS. PERINO: As I just said, he got the advice from the military. But he also -- there's a lot of other parts to these puzzles when you're fighting an insurgency and fighting extremists.

We had to continue to work with the members, with the Iraqis on their economy, which is now doing very well, the diplomatic parts of it, in terms of how would they work with their neighbors.

And Prime Minister Maliki deserves a lot of credit for all that he has done to reach out to his neighbors and establish new embassies, have debt forgiven. And he continues to work on that, and also, on the political side of things with our provincial reconstruction teams. Those are teams that come out of not just the State Department, but other places like USDA, where they have agricultural experts that are helping the Iraqis plant new crops.

Now Iraq is a very different place from Afghanistan, and that's because they're just fundamentally different places, especially from where they started. So there's lots of different strategies that have been bandied about.

The President came up with the right one in Iraq. And we are working to increase forces there, and in Afghanistan as well, and working with our NATO allies to find out the best ways to both win that militarily. But also, we know that we have a lot of work to do when it comes to the economy in Afghanistan, and political reconciliation, especially with the tribal chiefs.

Q Thanks.

MS. PERINO: Okay. John, go ahead, you've had your hand up the whole time.

Q Thank you Dana. Will the President veto a continuing resolution if it still contains a ban on offshore drilling?

MS. PERINO: I think that we need to ask Congress to actually get their work done and actually pass an appropriations bill, instead of having to move forward to a CR. This is the longest time it's been in 20 years, since Congress has actually passed one appropriations bill. It's not a record to be proud of. And we would like to actually have them do some of that before we talk about a CR.

END 11:39 A.M.

* The Press Secretary meant to say, "I don't think that it is."