THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS The Briefing Room
5:59 P.M. EST
MS. MYERS: So I'm here to say I'm leaving this current job. (Laughter.)
Just a quick overview of tomorrow's schedule: In the morning he has his usual national security and intelligence meetings with staff. At 11:30 a.m. he'll announce the staff cuts here, I believe. It will be in the briefing room. It will be -- the President will make an announcement, and then Mack will make an announcement and Mack will take questions.
And then at 1:45 p.m. he's meeting with the boy scouts. It is National Boy Scout Day. There will be a photo op in the Oval. And then at 2:00 p.m. he'll have another economic meeting which will take most of the rest of the afternoon. And that's it.
Q Was he a boy scout?
MS. MYERS: Not to my knowledge. I don't believe he was.
Q Can you start putting out a week ahead of things that you know that are coming?
MS. MYERS: We've had some requests to do that and the information hasn't been very reliable so far. We'll try to do that, but I don't think it will happen this week. And I don't know -- if we get more reliable long-term scheduling information to make that possible, we'll do it.
Q Pictures of the boy scouts and the economic? that possible. We'll do it.
MS. MYERS: Definitely pictures of the boy scouts. Economic meeting -- good chance it will get added tomorrow. No plans right now.
Q What can you say about Wednesday, departure and so forth, and where he's going?
MS. MYERS: The departure is sometime around 3:30 p.m., I believe. It's sort of mid-afternoon. He'll fly to Detroit. There will be a small group there to greet him on arrival. He'll go from there to the TV station. After the station, there will be filing time. He'll have a private reception with some local officials and then fly back
Q You mean -- but it's an 8:00 p.m. --
MS. MYERS: Correct -- 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. is the town hall.
Q It's live, isn't it?
MS. MYERS: It's live, correct. So then there'll be some filing time afterwards. And I think we're scheduled to leave there around -- it's fairly late -- after 11:00 p.m. And since we're always on time, you can set your watches by it.
Q And the boy scouts?
MS. MYERS: Boy scouts is at 1:45 p.m.
Q And the economic meeting is at --
MS. MYERS: And the economic meeting is at 2:00 p.m.
Q Will there be a Stephanopoulos briefing?
MS. MYERS: Yes, there will. At 12:30 p.m.
Q And when will McLarty --
MS. MYERS: Well, actually, we may have to push it back. But there will be a Stephanopoulos sort of clean-up briefing after the --
Q The President's at 11:30 a.m.?
MS. MYERS: The President's at 11:30 a.m. And then Mack will take questions.
Q The President will take no questions?
MS. MYERS: No, he'll just make a statement -- similar to today.
Q Give us some more on the staff cuts. The goal --
Q Reiterate the goal. We need another 15 seconds.
Q Tomorrow's announcement will be the first installment of staff cuts, or the whole thing?
MS. MYERS: Well, he'll announce the plan. Again, he committed to reducing the White House staff by 25 percent. And not only will he do that, but I think it becomes a demonstration to the American people that the President is committed to looking at government first before he goes to them and asks them to contribute to getting our economic house in order.
Q Could you give us any guidance on AG tomorrow -- announcement likely, unlikely?
MS. MYERS: I think it's unlikely.
Q Have any of the senior Cabinet members or seniors officials come forward yet and said that they failed to pay their taxes or they contravened the law in some other way?
MS. MYERS: Ron Brown is the only one that I know of. If there are any others, I don't know about them. But, again, his problem was fairly limited in that he failed to pay Social Security taxes on a weekly employee that came into clean his house. Once he found out what the law was regarding domestic help, he moved to pay his back taxes. So it's been cleared up.
Q If the others do the same that will be the end of it?
MS. MYERS: Yes. Obviously, this question wasn't --just to beat the dead horse a little more, the question wasn't asked before Zoe Baird. And people who have subsequently gone back --certainly in Secretary Brown's case -- and tried to comply with the law, clearly that is the direction from the President is that all of the people who are working in the federal government are expected to comply with the law.
Q Is the President taking Air Force One and will there be a pool on it?
MS. MYERS: Yes, the President's taking Air Force One. Yes, there will be a pool and a press charter.
Q And that's his first time on Air Force One?
MS. MYERS: Correct. I don't believe he's ever set foot on it before.
Q He's leaving from here?
MS. MYERS: Leaving from Washington? From here, there will there be a pool that will go in the motorcade with him?
Q The motorcade goes to Andrews?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q Is going by helicopter.
MS. MYERS: The rest of the motorcade for staff and the pool and the other press will leave from here. Is that your question?
Q Are there supposed to be more announcements of Cabinet agency cuts on Wednesday?
MS. MYERS: There will be subsequent announcements on Wednesday.
Q And this is the proposed promise to cut the government by 100,000 workers and administration costs by three percent?
MS. MYERS: I don't want to give the details of what's going to happen Wednesday yet, but he certainly made that commitment during the campaign.
Q Subsequent announcements on what, Dee Dee?
MS. MYERS: Just further -- looking at government first before asking the American people to pay their fair share.
Q From here or from agencies?
MS. MYERS: That will be -- I expect Wednesday to focus on broader than here.
Q Do you have any details of the schedule, his schedule here before leaving for Detroit?
MS. MYERS: I don't. I won't have that until tomorrow.
Q Do you have a price tag on the extension of unemployment benefits?
MS. MYERS: No, I don't.
Q Do you know why you don't have one?
MS. MYERS: No. I'll check and get back to you on it. We didn't put one out today.
Q But you don't have -- they couldn't give us a number on the cost of the reemployment services. Do you have any number on that?
MS. MYERS: No, I don't.
Q Can you tell us any more on the 25 percent --money, people, combination of the two?
MS. MYERS: No, you'll have to wait until tomorrow.
Q But he will say tomorrow that by some standard he professes tomorrow he will meet the 25 percent goal?
MS. MYERS: He absolutely will meet that commitment. No question.
Q Will McLarty be on camera, too?
MS. MYERS: Yes. We haven't talked through any ground rules, but he will be taking questions.
Q These layoffs and so forth -- not the White House per se, but later on in the government -- he can't fire anyone on civil service.
MS. MYERS: Gosh, no. That's certainly not our intention.
Q Who did you say was taking questions?
MS. MYERS: Mack McLarty. He's the White House Chief of Staff. (Laughter.)
Q Have any other candidates for appointment by the President that require Senate confirmation had their consideration halted because of an issue regarding taxes or illegal workers working for them? I've heard of a figure up to about a dozen or so.
MS. MYERS: I have no idea what the figure is. It is something that is being asked now in the wake of Zoe Baird. I think it is only prudent. People who are going to have to face a Senate confirmation process are expected to answer that question now. But I don't have any idea what impact it's had, sort of throughout the agencies.
Q Didn't the Judge pay for taxes?
MS. MYERS: She did.
Q Well, isn't that the same as Ron Brown? He paid for taxes but it's the same category, isn't it?
MS. MYERS: No, there's -- there are many differences, and without going back through the whole thing, I think Judge Wood was asked several times about it and I think the answer wasn't as forthcoming as it might have been. I also think that in this political environment it would have been very difficult to get her through a Senate confirmation process even though she broke no laws.
Q Dee Dee, you said not to be a dead horse. Is this a reflection of the level of frustration of attention focused on this issue in the White House?
MS. MYERS: I think somebody went back and counted up the number of questions George got at his briefing today on this issue and it was around 60.
Q How many answers did he give? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: Two.
Q -- statement that there are a number of people whose confirmation or proceedings, or whatever, have been held up because of the possibility --
MS. MYERS: No, I can't confirm that. I don't know that that's true. Other than Judge Wood, I don't know whether it's had an impact on anybody. It may have been a factor in a decision, but I can't say.
Q You cannot or you will not?
MS. MYERS: I cannot at this point.
Q But there are some?
MS. MYERS: I don't know. I only know that it's been asked. I don't know whether it's kept anybody from an appointment or a nomination.
Q Dee Dee, let me ask you something. Short of kept somebody from an appointment, is this question being looked in with specificity on a number of people?
MS. MYERS: Absolutely. It's now being asked of people who are going to go through a Senate confirmation process. I think it's likely to come up in any proceeding, and it would be imprudent of us not to ask it. So, of course, it's being asked. It wasn't an issue before Zoe Baird. It's now an issue. You look confused.
Q I am. The question's being asked, but what I want to know is whether it has held up the process. Whether it's now --there are several people who are in a group and we've got to check out the records of their household employment or whatever -- whether this specific issue --
MS. MYERS: And I can't speak to that. It is now part of any sort of standard vetting process at this point. And so it may be that it's being looked into with a number of sub-Cabinet appointments. I would imagine -- everybody is being asked.
Q There isn't going to be any actual cutting of White House staff, is it? Because you haven't filled all the jobs, have you?
MS. MYERS: Correct. Correct. We're not going to announce it --
Q And this may be an elimination of jobs that you don't plan to fill.
MS. MYERS: Yes. And there will be more specifics tomorrow. But obviously, we're doing things a little differently than have been done in previous White Houses. And so some positions will be eliminated. Some, for example, were eliminated in CEQ today. There will be fewer people in the new Office of Environmental Policy than there was at CEQ and there will be a number of other eliminations from top to bottom.
Q Do you have a number on that?
MS. MYERS: The press office is being eliminated.
Q We hear you've taken over the whole EOB for communications.
MS. MYERS: The whole EOB for communications? I wish. It would be nice.
Q How many people are going to be in that Office of Environmental Policy?
MS. MYERS: I don't know the exact number. I believe it's about -- I don't want to put out a wrong number, but it's substantially less.
Q Is it less than 15?
MS. MYERS: Yes, probably less than half.
Q Dee Dee, both you and George today have said that Judge Wood was a little less forthcoming than she might have been. Are you suggesting that, clearly, this it was a lack of trust that was behind the ending of her consideration?
MS. MYERS: I think that there are a number of factors that go into making a decision like that. I think it's important to reemphasize that Judge Wood had not been chosen, the President had not made a decision about the next attorney general nominee. But that was a factor, yes; that not only was the situation going to make the confirmation process difficult, but I think her answers on it were not as forthcoming as they might have been. And that's regrettable. I think she's admitted as much. I think it was more of a political miscalculation than anything else, but I think it had an impact.
Q What will the employees of CEQ do until Congress pulls the plug on them because it's an agency created by Congress?
MS. MYERS: I expect they'll hopefully start to phase down their responsibilities. And some of those responsibilities will be transferred to the Office of Environmental Protection. I don't expect that to happen overnight.
Q Any of the staff reductions that you announce tomorrow, will that -- that won't result in any immediate loss of jobs for anybody, is that correct?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q It's phased out over the course of the fiscal year?
MS. MYERS: Some of the jobs were phased out -- they weren't filled. We just have a different structure than the previous White House. But it is a smaller structure, a leaner, meaner structure.
Q What baseline are you using? Are you using the 408 or the 1,900 in the Executive Office of the President?
MS. MYERS: I'm not sure what the starting figure was. I believe it's bigger than 408, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to get the details on that.
Q Got any bean counters -- leaner, meaner --
Q Are you going to continue the process of using detailees from the Pentagon, GSA, Park Service, State Department?
MS. MYERS: I'm sure they're will be some. I don't know exactly where, but there will continue to be some detailees.
Q But the objective is to reduce the number of detailees -- you could get rid of a lot of people and then just bring in more detailees.
MS. MYERS: No, that won't happen. That's not what's happening here. This is a real downsizing. We're really changing the structure of the White House staff, downsizing it.
Q George's last question that he answered today -- he said it would make sense in certain circumstances to raise the corporate tax rate. That was going further than most questions about the economic plan, which usually, the answer is on the order of we -- everything's on the table. But on some things like the Social Security COLA, he has said it's unlikely. Does this phrasing mean to suggest that it is likely to include a hike in the corporate tax rate in this plan?
MS. MYERS: I don't want to characterize it as likely or unlikely, but it's clearly something that's being looked at.
Q The President's stepsister, Diane Welsh, said in a taping for a Fox show that he won't accept her phone calls. And furthermore, the Democrats spirited her away to a hotel in New York during the -- two days before the election and kept her there and told her not to talk to anyone. Is that --
MS. MYERS: Well, I think it's important to understand the nature of that relationship. She is the daughter of one of Virginia Kelly's previous husbands who passed away. They were married for about six or seven years, I think, in the late '60s to the mid-'70s. He does not have much of a relationship with her. I don't know what happened at the convention, but she's certainly not somebody that he's spent a lot of time with in his life or knows well.
Q He didn't know -- if the Democrats did this before the election, he didn't know about it, did he?
MS. MYERS: No. There was no -- she's just not somebody that has surfaced as a member of the Clinton family. Again, she's the child of a former husband of Virginia Kelly's. Never lived in the same house with him. The second husband, whose name -- the third, after Roger Clinton -- the first husband after Roger Clinton before Richard Kelly.
Q She was not considered a part of the family?
MS. MYERS: Yes, she's not somebody that, for example, came to the inauguration with the Clinton family.
Q Why do you know so much about her?
MS. MYERS: I know more details about more things than I ever thought I would.
Q But has she come up in some context that you had to find out --
MS. MYERS: I've gotten asked about her a couple of times.
Q Because of this?
MS. MYERS: Not because of this, but just over the course of the last year. I know a lot about the Clinton family.
Q But, Dee Dee, the question would be why she didn't come to the inauguration and the other festivities --
MS. MYERS: Because President Clinton has no relationship with her.
Q Does he want to avoid a relationship with her?
MS. MYERS: She's just not somebody that he has a relationship with. I mean, he's not avoiding it, but she is the daughter of one of his mother's previous husbands. It's not a big deal one way or another; simply not anyone he ever lived with or had much of a family relationship with. I believe she didn't have much of a relationship with her father. He doesn't have much occasion to know her.
Q He has a relationship, though, with some other siblings of her ex-husbands.
MS. MYERS: It's predicated on the relationship that they have with their parents or their father.
Q Was she trying to crash the convention?
MS. MYERS: Not that I know of. I don't know much about her other than who she is.
Q Has she attempted to contact him since the election?
MS. MYERS: I don't know. Not that I know of but she may have.
Q Is that her outside the gate? (Laughter.)
Q Does she have any domestic help from outside? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I can't confirm or deny that.
Q Did Virginia Kelly have any relationship her?
MS. MYERS: No.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END6:17 P.M. EST