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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 13, 2008

Press Gaggle by Deputy Press Secretary Gordon Johndroe
Aboard Air Force One
En Route New York, New York

9:01 A.M. EST

MR. JOHNDROE: Good morning, everyone. Okay. We are on our way to New York City. The President will make remarks at the United Nations High-Level Debate on Interfaith Dialogue. The President will discuss religious freedom and tolerance at this meeting. He will then meet with King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia. I expect they will talk about the continued strong U.S.-Saudi bilateral relationship, as well as issues related to regional security.

The President will then make remarks on financial markets and the world economy at Federal Hall. This will be hosted by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. In his remarks the President will review the origins of the financial crisis and observe the increased interconnectedness of the global financial marketplace; discuss the importance of making our markets more transparent; ensuring our markets are appropriately regulated, promoting integrity within the markets; and strengthening cooperation among the world's financial leaders; emphasize that free market capitalism, especially free trade, is still the best system to create economic growth and lift people out of poverty.

We should fix the problems we have rather than dismantle a system that has improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world. There will be approximately 175 people at the speech today.

Then the President and Mrs. Bush will return to Washington. Tomorrow the President hosts the G20 world leaders plus other leaders of important institutions. And with that, I am happy to take your questions.

Q Will the President and King Abdallah discuss the oil issue?

MR. JOHNDROE: I'm not sure what you mean specifically by "the oil issue." I would just say that I'm sure that energy policy will come up in general. Also, Saudi Arabia is a member of the G20. They will participate in the financial summit this weekend. So I can expect a number of issues -- energy and the world economy are related, so it's likely that something like that would come up.

Q And does the United States want Saudi Arabia to do more in terms of the economic crisis -- give more money to bolster some of these companies?

MR. JOHNDROE: Let's let the -- one, let's let the meeting take place. But, two, as I said, Saudi Arabia is a member of the G20, so this is going to be a discussion that all of the world leaders will be able to have together as to what are the root causes of the current situation we're in, and then what are some basic outlines or principles and then potential actions that can be taken at this first in what is likely to be a series of world summits.

Q Gordon, I had two questions on the summit. You made a comment that the President will make the point that we shouldn't dismantle the system that's been working -- I'm paraphrasing you. Is anybody suggesting that the financial systems worldwide be dismantled?

MR. JOHNDROE: I think it's just a matter of making clear that free market capitalism has led to incredible growth and prosperity and has helped lift people in the developing world over many years. And it's important that as we make changes and take steps to return not only the United States and the whole world to prosperity and creating jobs and continuing to thaw out the credit market, that we not take any steps that are against our underlying principles.

Q I guess what I'm -- the administration has been very clear about that anti-protectionist view. What I'm wondering is, heading into the summit, what is it in response to? In the primary season when there was debate about NAFTA, there were some people saying we ought to reexamine that view and the President was responding to that. In this case, I'm not sure who he's responding to by saying we need to focus on trade, we need to make sure that we don't close markets. Is there a particular country, a particular view out there?

MR. JOHNDROE: I think it's just a general principle that I think is shared by most of the members of the G20, that free trade is the right way to go. It is -- it helps promote prosperity, create jobs, and foster openness.

Q Got anything to say on Detroit and bailout of automakers?

MR. JOHNDROE: Nothing new.

Q What about Barney Frank's legislation?

MR. JOHNDROE: I don't think we've actually seen any specific proposals coming out of Congress. We don't even know whether they're calling a session next week. We haven't -- we don't have any specifics on that, so I don't think I'll -- I don't think there's anything to add.

Q What is the White House position on his legislation?

MR. JOHNDROE: I haven't seen the specifics of his legislation, so I think I'll decline to comment. Obviously we're -- we are interested in continuing to see a thaw in the credit markets. That is a way to help get money moving around and get people back to work. We are -- this is a full court press across the board in the administration to deal with the countries and then the world's financial situation.


Q But you still oppose using the TARP for automakers, correct?

MR. JOHNDROE: That was not Congress's intent. We are looking at using the -- moving as quickly as possible on the 136 money out of the Department of Energy to assist the automakers. But that was not Congress's intent, and Secretary Paulson made that clear yesterday with regards to the TARP money.


END 9:08 A.M. EST