For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 25, 2008
Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Dana Perino
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Fort Campbell, Kentucky
10:02 A.M. EST
MS. PERINO: We are on our way to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The President will make remarks to thank military personnel who have recently returned from Iraq or Afghanistan, and the families who have supported them. And he will discuss the importance of the global war on terror and how these brave men and women have worked to keep Americans safe.
He will then have lunch with military personnel at the Son Cafe. He'll have lunch with a group of about 150 soldiers, many of whom have recently returned from either Iraq or Afghanistan. That will be pool at the top, and the remarks are, of course, open.
One note: Today, Secretary Peters of the Transportation Department, will deliver a speech scheduled this morning in Atlanta, Georgia, to outline the administration's accomplishments in creating a new transportation agenda entirely focused on reducing transportation congestion and improving urban mobility, and to announce a new congestion reduction grant for Atlanta. And she will also call for the kind of transportation reforms needed to actually deliver meaningful progress on traffic.
A fun note: Today is the last day to get your vote in to name the National Thanksgiving Turkey. So band together, send in your vote to whitehouse.gov. And then also, just a note for you. You remember, I think it was about a week ago, or two, the President taped an interview for StoryCorps, which will run on NPR on Friday, as part of StoryCorps' National Day of Listening. This is the interview that Doro did of the President and Mrs. Bush.
Traveling on Air Force One today, Representative Ed Whitfield of Tennessee*, and also Zach Wamp of Tennessee.
And with that, I can take your questions.
Q The economy.
MS. PERINO: Is there a question? (Laughter.) Do you guys have any questions?
Q Treasury actions -- what's the consequence of these actions?
MS. PERINO: Well, we support the actions of the Fed today, and the Treasury Department. This effort will significantly help the housing market and increase the availability of home loans and affordable -- increase the availability of home loans at affordable rates.
And then the Treasury Department is today announcing that it and the Federal Reserve will have a new program to free up lending to consumers and small businesses. The consumer lending facility that they're creating will provide liquidity to banks that will provide for small business loans, consumer loans such as autos, student loans, and credit cards.
The market of this kind of credit slowed significantly in October, and it was the main reason that we said that we needed the rescue package. And so Secretary Paulson is holding a news conference, I think right now, so when you get on the ground he'll have more details for you about how the program works. But we believe it's important to free up credit and that this is another step that we can take to try to help the situation.
Q Was President-Elect Obama informed of this action today?
MS. PERINO: You'll have to connect with the Treasury Department for sure, but as you heard both the President and President-Elect Obama say yesterday, that they're keeping each other informed and their staffs are working closely together. I can't imagine a situation -- a scenario where they would not have been informed. We are working hand-in-glove with them.
Q -- know it for a fact?
MS. PERINO: I wasn't on the phone call. But I mean, they're talking all the time.
Q A former NSA linguist is saying that the U.S. spied on Tony Blair. Do you have anything on that?
MS. PERINO: I don't have anything on that. No, I would not comment. And I saw reports about that. President Bush doesn't recall anything of that sort. So that's all I'd have to say on it.
Q You asked him about it, and he doesn't recall anything of that sort --
MS. PERINO: This story has been out there for a while. It's been circulating around. I don't know why all of a sudden everybody is writing about it, because -- maybe they read it on a blog or something. I don't know.
Is that it? Oh, sorry.
Q Do you want to ask about the economy numbers that come out today? Are you guys going to comment on that?
MS. PERINO: I think that Tony Fratto responded to you, so you should have his response. And, look, the numbers are what they are, which is they're troubling, and this is why we are having to act and take such bold actions that we are taking.
We think that one of the reasons that the data showed a decline was that consumers pulled back on spending, and we think a lot of that was because of the credit crisis, which is why we are so focused on unfreezing credit markets, and another reason why the Treasury and the Fed Reserve continue to try to find ways to fix the problem, as they're announcing right now as we speak.
Q What are your prospects for the U.S. security pact to be passed by the Iraqi parliament tomorrow?
MS. PERINO: We're hopeful. They've had a lot of debate in their country. And I think that if you look at the violence that took place there yesterday that was indiscriminate and killed many people, that it reminds us that the Iraqis have come a long way, but they're not quite there yet to be able to take care of all their security needs on their own. And they need -- they continue to need our support. That's what Prime Minister Maliki has said, their Defense Ministry, amongst others. But they'll have their debate. And this is the process that we knew was going to take a while. But we remain hopeful that the council of representatives will pass it out tomorrow.
Q Were administration officials lobbying by phone to different Iraqi officials?
MS. PERINO: Of course we have Ambassador Crocker, who's leading the negotiations there and talking to both members of our Congress to the extent that they get briefings and they have questions. But of course, we're talking to members of the parliament there in Iraq and making the case. But it's being all led by Ambassador Crocker.
Q Also, I didn't know if you know the details, but I think there are some troops in Fort Campbell who are just getting ready to go to Afghanistan. Is that correct?
MS. PERINO: That's right. Here at Fort Campbell --
Q Do you know anything about that, what the numbers --
MS. PERINO: Well, I'll have to get you -- I don't have the numbers with me. I do know that there are troops here that have just recently returned and some that are about to deploy to both Iraq and Afghanistan. We'll see if we can get the numbers for you from the base.
All right. Okay, we'll see you on the ground.
END 10:09 A.M. EST
* Representative Ed Whitfield of Kentucky