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Home > News & Policies > Press Secretary Briefings

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 14, 2008

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

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11:11 A.M. EST

MS. PERINO: Hello, everybody; good morning, Helen.

The President recorded his radio address this morning. In it he discusses the global financial summit and the economy. And in a departure from the norm, we will release that unembargoed as soon as it's ready, which could be any minute; so you'll have that.

Q The audio, too?

MS. PERINO: I will check. I'll check.

The President will greet each leader tonight in reverse protocol order on the North Portico, which will be pool coverage. And then this evening President Bush will welcome leaders from the G20, along with the heads of key international organizations, to the White House. They will have a working dinner on the eve of the Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy, which will kick off tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. And we'll have a guest list for you as soon as possible.

And then one personnel announcement for you. The recent rescue legislation -- financial rescue legislation created a special inspector general for the TARP program to monitor the functioning of it. We chose today -- the President chose Neil Barofsky for this important position. He's a seasoned career federal prosecutor. He's known for his meticulous attention to detail, his sharp intellect, and we think he's an outstanding choice to fill this position.

And with that I can take questions. Jen.

Q Thanks. Have the delegations agreed -- and particularly, the White House, agreed to an early warning system, a clearinghouse for derivatives, and a college of supervisors for oversight?

MS. PERINO: On those two issues, on college of supervisors and early warning systems, these are things that we have been supportive of in the past. For example, specific sectors, the financial sector, the insurance sector -- those private sectors have set up their own college of supervisors. We have been supportive of those. So what I'd like to do is let this meeting take place and let the leaders actually discuss it, and then we'll have a full Washington communiqué for you to read tomorrow at the conclusion of the meeting.

Q But not today?

MS. PERINO: I don't think we'll have anything specific on that today. I think the leaders need to meet first.

Q Even you told us last week you might be able to tell us this week what --

MS. PERINO: I know I referred you to this briefing. And now we are here -- (laughter.) Well, I went a step further to tell you that we have been supportive of those types of ideas in the past. And so I'll let the leaders meet.

Q We've been good. (Laughter.)

MS. PERINO: Well, we want you to show up tomorrow. (Laughter.)

Q Oh.

MS. PERINO: On a Saturday.

Anything else? Helen.

Q Is the auto industry bid for a bailout dead now?

MS. PERINO: Well, what we've been waiting for is to hear from Congress as to whether or not they're going to move forward in utilizing the program that they had designed specifically for the auto industry. This is the 136 loans that required the Energy Department to do regulations, to figure out how to structure loans for the auto industry. We did that. That's been completed for about 10 days now, and we're awaiting those applications.

One of the things that the auto industry wanted was help sooner than those loans could provide. So what we have been wondering from Congress is, since their intent in the TARP legislation, in the Treasury legislation, was for financial institutions, could they figure out a way to accelerate loans for viable companies under the program that they already designed for the auto industry. We're waiting to hear back from them. We just don't know yet.

Q Well, is the President putting the arm on his fellow Republicans to approve it?

MS. PERINO: Well, right now we're waiting to know what the leadership in Congress wants. The leadership is Democratic and we don't know what Speaker Pelosi or Leader Reid are going to put forward. But we are certainly open to their ideas. We're trying to talk to them about what they might or might not put forward, and we're seeing if they would be willing to accelerate loans for viable companies.

Q What's the problem?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think -- I hate to have to refer you to somebody, but I think I have to refer you to the Speaker's office and the Leader's office to find out what the Democrats are thinking. I just -- I can't speak for them, because we just don't know.

Q You're opposed to additional money on top of that $25 billion, correct?

MS. PERINO: We think the $25 billion that they've already authorized and appropriated, and that we've designed through the regulations would be something that they might consider accelerating to those companies. But they would have to pass legislation to do that. So we're waiting on them.


Q Dana, we had that briefing with Dan Price and he talked a lot about this weekend, wanting to identify the problem. But beyond that, what are the White House's benchmarks for success out of this summit? On Sunday, when we look back -- what exactly are you looking for to have gotten out of these two meetings?

MS. PERINO: Well, identifying the causes of the crisis are important, because you can't talk about solutions until you've identified the problems and really understand what they are. There were problems here in our country, and there were problems in other countries, as we've since learned. And having the G20 here was a good idea, because it represents about 90 percent of the world's economy.

We will also discuss the efforts that are already underway. There have been lots of coordinated efforts, especially amongst our Fed offices both here in America and across Europe and other places. Some countries have opted to put forward a stimulus package, like China has done. So we'll discuss those efforts that are already underway. And then we want to agree on principles for reforms that we can then ask working groups to come back with specific ideas on how to implement agreements that some of the leaders will make, particular leaders would make this weekend.

They would be asked to develop specific, concrete actions. But that is going to take a while for them to come back and provide that. So then the next thing that we'll do is we'll identify -- hopefully be able to identify when the next meeting should be. Obviously, we're in the middle of a transition here from one administration to the next. And so, we're working very closely and talking to President-Elect Obama's team on this during this week.

Q Dana, how do you push back, though, when other world leaders are -- some of them are looking for some hard and fast agreement on specific reforms at the summit this weekend?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think -- as I said, let's let the meeting take place and see what comes forward. And also let's take a look at the fact that those task forces will be able to come back with specific concrete actions. I think that the goals that we've laid out for this meeting are robust, in terms of just identifying the problems and agreeing on efforts that are already underway, and then figuring out how do we move forward with principles for reform, and then asking the working groups to go back, work with their financial experts in their countries and in their governments, and identify specific concrete actions that can be taken.

We've always said that this was going to be a series of summits; nothing is going to be solved overnight. But we're going to get a long way towards moving the ball down the field tomorrow night -- well, tonight and tomorrow afternoon.

Q Will President Bush be pushing other leaders to do more to stimulate their own economies?

MS. PERINO: I think that there will be a full discussion, and we'll be able to provide you a readout for it afterwards. The President is going to make a statement after the summit tomorrow, as well.


Q Dana, let me ask that same question but in a larger way. Most of the leaders coming here are saying there needs to be very specific, direct, and comprehensive re-regulation of the financial sector. Many of them are coming here saying the world needs to get together and do stimulus for everybody. The President is reluctant on stimulus here in America, and warned yesterday, yet again, don't over-regulate. Is he in danger of being the odd man out here?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that there might be some countries who feel that way. But one of the reasons that the President wanted the G20 to be here is because it does represent 90 percent of the world's economy. And by no means does everyone feel like they have all the answers at their disposal and that they should prescribe their solutions for their own countries to others.

Now, some people coming to the meeting, some leaders might think that they have solutions that could be applied worldwide. That will be something that's discussed. But I'm not going to get in front of the leaders on that. And I think that it will be important when the President invites leaders from all these other countries that he not invite them and then ignore them; that he invite them and hear them out, because they have a stake in this, as well.

Q Dana.

MS. PERINO: I'm going to go to Andre.

Q Thank you. I might have misheard, but did you just say reverse protocol order?


Q What does it mean?

MS. PERINO: It means that the international organizations are going to come first, and then the leaders of the countries.

Q And the order of their arrivals is set?

MS. PERINO: It is set. And one of the reasons is because of the way that they will arrive, and then the way that they will depart. We have to make sure that we can get everybody in and out of here in a way -- in a very smooth fashion. We will have, I think, 300 to 400 hundred cars out on Pennsylvania Avenue. So it has to be very well organized.

Q Does the President plan to confer with any of his guests individually like -- or bilaterally? And maybe --

MS. PERINO: There's no separate bilateral setup. But I would never say that the President of the United States wouldn't have -- if there's an opportunity to talk with another leader about a certain issue, or if another leader wants to talk to the President about an issue, that they wouldn't be allowed to do that. But there's probably not going to be a lot of time. It's a pretty full agenda.

Q Why is that, Dana? Because Gordon Brown, I believe, is meeting with Hank Paulson today; the President doesn't really have anything on his schedule. Is it because he doesn't want to slight some leaders by meeting with others? Why aren't there --

MS. PERINO: The President is going to meet with all the leaders tonight. And he's had a lot of bilateral meetings in the last couple of months, and he'll have more even next weekend at the APEC summit. So I think that we'll just keep the agenda as we have it. He's invited 20 leaders he'll have for a reception and then dinner, and then he'll spend the entire day with them tomorrow, as well.


Q Thank you.

MS. PERINO: Looking at Wendell and calling you Wendell -- sorry.

Q I liked it. Separated at birth. (Laughter.)

Q Congress is going to be coming back next week for at least a short lame duck. A stimulus may be coming up.

MS. PERINO: Have they announced that, that they're coming back for sure?

Q That's my understanding --

MS. PERINO: Okay. Let me just check that.

Q They have some hearings and so forth. Can you talk broadly about what kinds of things the President might support in the way of a stimulus package, should one develop?

MS. PERINO: I'm not going to presuppose something. We'll just see what they come forward with. We're focused right now on implementing our rescue package and on -- because the main issue has been the tightening of the credit markets. And the actions that we have taken are starting to work. So we're going to continue to focus on that. Whether or not they come forward with a stimulus package remains to be seen. I think that there's a lot of question right now, and it's hard for me to react to something that hasn't even materialized.

Q At a minimum, they've been talking about another extension of unemployment insurance benefits. We've already had one extension. Would the President be in favor and sign a second?

MS. PERINO: We'll see what they put forward. Obviously the job market is very tough for a lot of Americans out there and we're well aware of the problems some people are having in finding a job. And we know that it's going to take us a while to pull out of this downturn that we're in, in our economy. So let's see what they put forward and then we'll let you know.

Q You won't rule it out then?

MS. PERINO: I will not rule it out.


Q Do you think there's no chance that the administration would use the TARP program to provide some funding to the automakers?

MS. PERINO: I think that the intent of the Congress when they put forward the rescue package was for financial companies. And that's what we have been focused on. But at the same time, they did put forward a plan to try to help the automakers, and we rushed to try to get the regulations in place. Now the question is whether or not Congress would put forward an amendment to try to accelerate those loans, and that's what we're waiting to see.

Q But if that doesn't happen by the end of the year and you reach a really critical point, what would happen?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think I -- I'm just going to decline to speculate. I will just tell you that our work so far in talking with them has -- to the automakers has been the focus of the TARP program, the intent of Congress was a focus on financial companies, and the automakers don't fall into that category. So that's where we are.


Q Yesterday the President, and the day before Secretary Paulson, indicated that we are turning the corner on this crisis, that the measures put in place are having an effect, that credit is loosening. Are we really focused on measures for preventing a repeat of this with the summit, or is there still more work to be done to mitigate the recession that we're probably --

MS. PERINO: I think it's twofold. I think that we need to continue to assess and see if there's anything more that we need to be doing. There are -- other countries might feel that they need to take similar actions that we have, or other people might have ideas that we want to take on board as well. But loosening up those credit markets has been our focus.

At the same time, they want to try to move forward to try to alleviate any future crises, or try to help prevent them in the future. Markets do go up and down, that's the way that it is. But we want to alleviate the pain to some extent now, but also try to prevent it in the future. So I think there's a two-track problem that we're trying to deal with.

Q In light of the automakers request, I mean, how much can we say we have actually done to deal with the credit crisis, the financial crisis now, the economic crisis?

MS. PERINO: Well, I think that if you just -- I'm not an economic expert, but as I understand the reading of the statistics regarding the Libor rate and the loosening up of credit as the best thing that can help people, consumers, can buy more cars or shop. We saw retail sales numbers today that were obviously not good. And we're trying to get -- those numbers lagged for a while, right, those were numbers from last month. I'm not saying that this month's are going to be any better, and leading into the holiday season, people are concerned. So there's things that we need to do right now, which is continue to implement our program, but at the same time look ahead and see if we can alleviate it in the future.


Q The OECD came out with a projection today of global recession, and the United States is one member of that. They're predicting a contraction of the U.S. economy of close to 1 percent next year. Do you think that's feasible?

MS. PERINO: I don't know Paula. I'll just refer you to the Treasury Department.

Go ahead.

Q Iraq's national security advisor said today that all British troops will be out of Iraq by the end of next year. What's your reaction to that?

MS. PERINO: I think that they've been working towards it. They've been working hard in trying to establish a way for Iraq to be able to take care of themselves. They've done -- the British troops have done a great job of helping secure the population, but also in training the Iraqi troops, which are gaining in number, in confidence, and in competence. So we hope that they -- I didn't see that report. But I'm assuming that if the British are able to reach their goals, they will be able to bring more of their own troops home, just like we are.

Q And can you confirm that there's been a missile strike in Pakistan that's killed 11 or 12 people?



Q Thank you Dana. Two questions. A commission appointed by the governor of Maryland has just recommended, by a vote of 13-7, that capital punishment be abolished in Maryland. My question: Since the President is a devout follower of world history's best-known victim of the death penalty, could you explain how he can support the punishment of killings in cold blood by doing just that in executions?

MS. PERINO: I think the President's position on death penalty is well known. I'm going to move on.

Go ahead, Sam. I'm going to move on.

Q Wait a minute.

MS. PERINO: Les, no.

Sam, go ahead.

Q I said two questions.

MS. PERINO: Sam, please go ahead.

Q Dana, I know that the White House has been in contact with the transition team. But specifically, has anybody from here been in touch with Secretary Albright and Congressman Leach? And how do you all envision their role this weekend?

MS. PERINO: I'll check. I know that Dan Price, as he told you the other day, had been in touch with his counterpart on the transition team. I don't know if they've actually spoken to those two individuals, but we'll check and get back to you.


Q Dana, does the President now regard himself as titular head of the Republican Party once again?

MS. PERINO: Once again? (Laughter.)

Q Well, wasn't McCain in that role during the campaign, don't you think?

MS. PERINO: Yes, that's a good question. I haven't talked to the President about it. We're in a period of transition. The RNC is going to elect a new head. So I guess for the time being we are. But we'll see, after this debate that they have within our party, who emerges. And I think that there's a lot of good candidates out there talking about it.

Q Does he have a candidate in the contest?

MS. PERINO: Not that I've talked to him about.

Q Thank you.

END 11:27 A.M. EST