E X E C U T I V E O F F I C E O F T H E P R E S I D E N T
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS
The Briefing Room
9:22 A.M. EST
MS. MYERS: Good morning. No real changes from yesterday on the President's schedule. At 9:30 a.m., he'll be meeting with Democratic congressional leaders. At 11:00 a.m., he'll have another congressional meeting in the Roosevelt Room. At 12:20 p.m., he's still scheduled to depart for the event. But we will have a final decision on that at 11:00 a.m. as to whether weather will permit. And then this afternoon he has yet another meeting with congressional leaders. And then at 2:15 p.m., he does a satellite feed to the California Economic Conference. You should have the coordinates of that and the sound will be piped in here. And that's it.
Oh, and there's been one other change, which is that Gene Sperling -- due to the President's schedule, Gene Sperling will brief on the deficit at 3:15 p.m. in Room 450 of the OEOB.
Q Can you rule out that the effective rate, given the surtax for some people, for the wealthy will, in fact, be close to 40 percent?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think we'll have to wait until tomorrow for all the details. The President has said repeatedly that he would both raise the top marginal rates on the wealthiest Americans and that he would implement a 10-percent surtax on incomes of over $1 million.
Q But is he now reconsidering that and imposing that surtax on incomes over $250,000?
MS. MYERS: Well, we'll have to wait for all the final details tomorrow. We just can't comment on it today.
Q Dee Dee, when did $200,000 become $100,000, and why? MS. MYERS: Well, the $100,000 figure is just a
cumulative figure. I think that was meant to emphasize the progressivity of the overall package. The package will be, above all things, fair. The $200,000 figure mentioned throughout the campaign was an estimate of the rate at which the top -- new top rate will kick in. The top rate will go from 31 percent up to somewhere around 36 percent. Again, we'll have all the details on that tomorrow night. But it's not a direct -- there's no direct comparison there
between those two figures.
Q The $100,000 doesn't necessarily mean a higher bracket, or does it?
MS. MYERS: It does not. Q What does it mean? MS. MYERS: It means that people who make over $100,000
will pay 70 percent of the aggregate taxes proposed in the President's new package.
Q You're talking about the impact of, let's say, an energy tax or Social Security changes.
MS. MYERS: The cumulative impact. Exactly. Q Aggregate taxes means what? The amount of money or the number of taxes? MS. MYERS: The amount of money. Q Are you saying that the threshold has not been lowered to $175,000? MS. MYERS: I'm not saying that. I'm simply saying that
the $100,000 figure is just a figure to show -- demonstrate the progressivity of the total package and that it is not the rate at which -- it is not the income level at which the top marginal rate will increase.
Q Has the threshold been lowered to $175,000 for couples and $140,000 for individuals?
MS. MYERS: There's been some adjustment and we'll have the details of it tomorrow.
Q Is $100,000 for a couple or an individual --$200,000 was for a couple, I believe. What is $100,000?
MS. MYERS: The $200,000 was for a couple, and I believe it's $100,000 for a joint filing, I believe. But we'll have to wait until tomorrow to know the specific details. But, again, the $100,000 figure was to emphasize that people -- probably individuals and families who make over $100,000 a year will pay 70 percent of the new taxes that will be outlined in the President's package tomorrow.
Q If the President makes a point like that, Dee Dee, why can it not be said that he's proposing a soak-the-rich policy?
MS. MYERS: He's always said that people who did best in the 1980s would have to pay the most and pay first. There's no question about that. People who were on the high end of the income scale, saw their incomes go up the most in the 1980s, they saw their taxes go down. The President is committed to reversing that. And his package will be fair and restore basic fairness to the tax system.
Q Can you confirm what another senior White House colleague said this morning -- that anyone over $30,000 a year can expect to feel the pressure of higher taxes at some point?
MS. MYERS: I think the President made it very clear last night that he worked as hard as he could and tried every way possible, but could not guarantee the middle class that they would not be asked to pay more. They will. I don't want to get into the
specifics of the package. The President will talk about that tomorrow.
Q George said this morning $30,000 and under probably will not feel any new taxes. Can you confirm the obvious -- that that means if you earn $30,000 or more that you will feel the impact of new taxes?
MS. MYERS: I think that's accurate. Q Could you explain how people below $30,000 will be
exempt or have some kind of -- make up for what they're going to lose on the broad-based energy tax?
MS. MYERS: There are things like the earned income tax credit, which will affect specifically people who are on -- working people on the lower end of the income scale, who make less than $30,000. And the President's always been committed to guaranteeing that people who work 40 hours a week be lifted out of poverty. And the earned income tax credit, among other things, will be expanded to help provide that.
Q Will the tax credit equal what they pay -- what the estimate is they'll pay on the broad-based energy tax?
MS. MYERS: It will be one of the ways to offset the impacts of the package in other areas. But I don't want to get all the specifics.
Q What was the question? MS. MYERS: The question was will that be used to offset,
for example, something like a higher energy tax. I mean, we're a day away from having all the details on this, so we're still -- I still can't give it all to you. But it's becoming clearer.
Q What does a person who makes $100,000 a year get for his or her money?
MS. MYERS: They will get the same thing that all Americans will get -- a restructured economy, job growth, economic competitiveness, and a reduction in the federal deficit, which will do things like drive down interest rates over the long term, which will have a very direct impact on people's lives. If you own a home mortgage and interest rates go down -- the President pointed out last night, if your mortgage is $100,000, a one percent drop in interest rates can save you $100 a month. That's a good chunk of money. And if your home is worth more, you'll save more.
Q Assuming a person who makes $100,000 a year has a job, the only thing they need of that, then, is lowered interest rates.
MS. MYERS: No. I think that everybody benefits from a more competitive restructured economy. The economy is getting better, but there's been no job growth, very little income growth. The President is committed to taking money and investing it into things like education, job training, job creation, infrastructure, programs like Head Start and immunization which will pay dividends in the long term. Everybody will benefit if this economy is competitive, if we have a work force that's trained and ready to go, and if we can reverse the trend of the last decade, which is stagnant incomes and declining standards of living. Everybody will contribute and everybody will share in the benefits.
Q Dee Dee, how much of the new taxes will be dedicated to reducing the deficit? And what kind of mechanism will
there be built into this to ensure that that money will be spent on reducing the deficit?
MS. MYERS: I don't know what kind of mechanisms will be built in. Obviously, the President will try to get the entire package through Congress. He'll begin by going to the American people and then work closely with Congress over the course of the next several months to try to get the package through in its entirety. But there will be a significant amount of resources dedicated to deficit reduction. The President has made that clear that he believes that we have to have a disciplined deficit reduction program. The trend has been going in exactly the wrong direction for too long. We've quadrupled the debt over the last 12 years, and he's going to start to move things back in the other direction.
Q He says a significant amount will go to deficit reduction. Is there a percentage formula? And how much -- during the campaign Clinton said that he would not raise taxes to pay for his programs. How are you going to delineate between taxes to reduce the deficit and new money to pay for new programs?
MS. MYERS: Well, we'll have the specifics, again, tomorrow. But there will be, again, a significant portion dedicated to deficit reduction, and we'll have to wait until we have all the details to show how that's broken down.
Q If, in fact, these new taxes do not go to reducing the deficit entirely, is he not breaking faith with the American people who seem willing to pay new taxes if it's to reduce the deficit?
MS. MYERS: I think that they want two things: They want job creation and they want deficit reduction. I think they want -- by a margin of about two to one, they're more interested in job creation, which the President is committed to doing up front with the stimulus package, and by restructuring the economy and stimulating longer-term growth.
But I think he said last night that circumstances have changed. He said for the last couple of months circumstances have changed, and he's been forced to reevaluate all of his decisions in light of that.
Now, Helen asked a minute ago what the reaction has been. ABC did a poll, a Nightline poll, instant poll which isn't entirely reliable, but by a margin of 2-to-1 people wanted to support their president and were willing to pay more for debt reduction and job creation if, again, they believe that the money would be used for those purposes. The President's going to work very hard to get the package through Congress and to guarantee that the money is used for those purposes. The plan will be very specific to try to guarantee that.
Q To get back to the income threshold again -- you said that there would be some adjustment in the rate at which 36 percent kicks in. This is a downward adjustment, right, not an upward adjustment, right?
MS. MYERS: Yes, you can safely assume it will be downward.
Q Are you willing to steer us away from the report, I think it was in one of the papers this morning, that it was going to be $175,000?
MS. MYERS: I haven't seen it. I believe -- is that in the Journal?
Q That was in The Post. I saw The Post. MS. MYERS: I haven't seen it. I can't comment on the specifics, other than to just give you that general direction. Q Is it modest? MS. MYERS: It's fairly modest. It's not $100,000. Q Let's clear up the $100,000 again, though -- the
$100,000 that he referred to last night in his speech -- is that joint, or individual?
MS. MYERS: I believe it's individual. And families or individuals who make over $100,000 will pay 70 percent of the total in new revenues. Again, it's not a threshold income for raising the tax level. So don't think of it the same way as the $200,000 figure he kicked around a lot during the campaign. It's just simply people -- families or individuals who earn over $100,000 a year will pay the bulk of new revenues outlined in the plan. Again, it's simply meant to emphasize the progressive nature of the overall package.
Q I think a senior administration official last night was quoted as saying -- explaining it differently, saying it's seven of every 10 taxes will be paid by people who earn over $100,000. You're saying that is wrong, that it's an aggregate.
MS. MYERS: My understanding is that it's total dollar figure, that seven out of every $10 in new revenues collected will be paid by people making over $100,000.
Q Why do you not mention corporations in that equation?
MS. MYERS: I'm not sure which portion is coming from corporations. If corporate incomes are over $100,000, that may be included in there. I have to get back to you on that.
Q Are there any more surprises? (Laughter.) MS. MYERS: Yes. That's sort of a general question. Q I mean, in this package. I think this was a surprise last night on the $100,000 so I wonder if you had any more. MS. MYERS: What, that the package was being very progressive and hit top earners harder? Q No, not that. MS. MYERS: I don't think that should come as a surprise.
Again, the top marginal rate is not being changed at $100,000; I just want to make that as clear as possible.
Q Yes, I don't think that was very well understood last night, but anyway, is there anything else?
MS. MYERS: There may be a few things people aren't expecting. I think a great portion of it has been aired in some form or another.
Q Like what? MS. MYERS: We'll wait until tomorrow. I don't want to
give away all the suspense.
Q Has there been difficulty in the last couple of days coming up with the spending cuts? Have they had to pull back from some of the spending cuts that they had been planning on, as was reported?
MS. MYERS: No. I think, though, that as the President was making final decisions, there were some things that were left for last. I think that most of the decisions have been made now. I think the President's very comfortable with the overall package.
Q But to count spending cuts -- is he counting the change in Social Security taxation, and is he counting reduced interest payments on the debt as "spending cuts"?
MS. MYERS: I don't know about reduced interest payments on the debt. I do believe that changes in Social Security will be counted as -- I think Mr. Panetta said that the other day that those would be counted as a spending cut. You could do it either way. I think in its purest form it's less money going out.
Q Dee Dee, in the interviews after his official Republican response last night, Senator Dole was complaining again that the White House is not adequately consulting with Republicans, you've left them out of the process. And he says that if you're going to take off without them, you may have to land or try to land without them. Why aren't you talking to the Republicans?
MS. MYERS: The President's meeting with the bipartisan leaders tomorrow at 9:15 a.m. or 9:30 a.m., and I believe that meeting is here. He's met with them a couple of times since he's been elected.
Q The plan's been put together already. Meeting with them tomorrow isn't really consultation, is it?
MS. MYERS: This isn't the first time that he's met with them. And I think as he's said a number of times, he looks forward to working with them to try to pass this package. He is a Democrat. He has different investment priorities and spending priorities than the previous administration. He's been working closely with Democratic members. As you know, he's tried to meet with and has met with most of the -- or by the end of today will have met with almost all of the Democratic members who, I think, he's looking to for great support for the overall package. But he'll continue to work with Republicans as well.
Q Dee Dee, is it fair to say that he's going to try to pass this plan with almost exclusively Democratic votes?
MS. MYERS: I think he's looking forward to working with Republicans. I think, understandably he expects more support from Democrats.
Q In terms of actually getting votes for this package, isn't it true that he's going to rely almost exclusively on holding most of the people within his own party?
MS. MYERS: Well, he can hold it together, he can almost do that. But I don't think he's going to rely entirely on any one particular party. I think he's going to reach out to Republicans. He's meeting with the Republican policy group the first week in March, and again, he'll meet every other week with the bipartisan leaders, which includes Republicans. I think he expect to work with them throughout on this economic package as well as other things.
Q Is the White House any further on the Gephardt question time?
MS. MYERS: No, we still don't have an answer on that. We'll get it to you as soon as we know.
Q Are you finding more difficulties, procedural difficulties?
MS. MYERS: I don't think so. I think the President just was focused on the address last night and didn't have a chance to really think about it or make a decision.
Q Would that be just with Democrats or with the Republicans?
MS. MYERS: I believe it will be everybody. Q Really? MS. MYERS: Yes. In fact, I'm sure that's the proposal. Q Are you still looking at Thursday, though? MS. MYERS: It would be Thursday morning before we left for St. Louis. Q And it would be in the House Chamber if you did it? MS. MYERS: It would be from the -- the invitation is to
speak from the well of the House Chamber. I don't think there's any other proposal.
Q Dee Dee, what has happened to the theme of sacrifice that was so predominant earlier on in the inaugural speech and other speeches and messages that he's given? Is that no longer the call?
MS. MYERS: I think that the American people have heard the call. The President called it an economic call to arms last night, that everybody will be asked to contribute. I think, as we talked about a little yesterday, contribution implies rightly that there's something on the other end, that people will get something back, that everybody will contribute, but everybody will benefit. We'll have, again, a stronger economy, a more competitive work force, jobs, better schools, a health care system that actually works -- all the things that the President has talked about for the past year-anda -half. And I think the American people understand what he's saying.
Q Well, is there a studied intention then to avoid the word sacrifice, that that's been overused for some reason, or what?
MS. MYERS: I think the President wants to emphasize that not only will people be asked to put something in, but that there is a benefit, there's a collective benefit that we as Americans will all enjoy if this package is passed and implemented. And I think that's the goal.
Q What is the timing for passing this package? You said several months. That sounds rather unrealistic.
MS. MYERS: Well, I think it depends. The stimulus package will come out first. I think you can expect a vote on that sometime within the next several weeks. That will take effect in Fiscal '93. The rest of it -- traditionally, there's a vote on the budget May 1st. And then you have -- then it goes -- the different spending and revenue pieces go out to the various committees and come back for reconciliation perhaps sometime in the summer. I think
that's sort of the best guess scenario.
Q Can I follow up on the -- is it an emergency supplemental that you want to get to a vote in the next few --
MS. MYERS: Yes, it would be a supplemental. Q Does that include only spending matters for the '83 fiscal year? MS. MYERS: Yes, I'm not sure how -- the spending will be
probably '83-'84. So there will be a supplemental this year, and then I guess the '84 --
Q You mean '93? MS. MYERS: I mean '93. I'm a decade behind. I'm still lost in the '80s. (Laughter.) Q The green '80s. MS. MYERS: That's right. (Laughter.) I missed out on it, so I'm hoping that we'll keep it going here. I'm sorry, now I forgot your question. Q Let me amend it then. Is there a tax component to the emergency short-term one that you want to get passed? MS. MYERS: Well, only in the form of tax credits. The stimulus package is spending. Q What you hope to get passed in the next couple of weeks, there are no tax components? MS. MYERS: Correct. There won't be any new revenues included in that, although extending tax credits, things like that. Q Extending tax credits means that you need a tax bill in the next several weeks, right? MS. MYERS: There is a tax component to the stimulus
package. But I want to just distinguish between raising revenue and extending tax credits. There won't be new taxes placed on business in the stimulus package. What there will be is tax credits --investment tax credit, things like that.
Q Do you expect to get that through in the next several weeks?
MS. MYERS: We hope to. Q So you have to have a tax bill and a short-term supplemental? MS. MYERS: You think that's not right? Q I think the tax bill is separate. It's retroactive but it's -- MS. MYERS: It's retroactive, yes. I don't know the
specific mechanisms. I know that there's a goal to move the stimulus package through quickly.
Q I think we were told that the tax measures are separate from the stimulus package, at least in terms of the legislative track.
MS. MYERS: Let me take that and get back to you guys. Q There was a report in the Journal this morning that
the administration would be considering additional tax measures as part of the health care plan. Deputy Secretary Altman said Saturday that he thought the administration would seriously consider what he called a progressive value-added tax as part of health care. What can you say about that?
MS. MYERS: Well, at this point, the health care process is just beginning. There are a number of working groups working on a variety of different aspects of it. And we just simply won't have any decisions about that for quite a while. Again, the President expects to submit some sort of health care reform package to Congress within the first 100 days, which, I think, there's 82 or 81 days left.
Q Isn't it clear, though, there's going to have to be some kind of tax increase to pay for that -- another layer tax?
MS. MYERS: I think they're looking at a number of options right now, and we're just not going to comment on the specifics of that. It's way too early.
Q One of the options, though, obviously, by that memo is to raise some sort of tax increase?
MS. MYERS: I mean, the memo is accurate as reported. Q How will you explain to Americans why this isn't the
same old tax-and-spend politics? What specifically more can you tell us that you're going to offer them as kind of a payback, a benefit than just saying there are going to be more jobs? Most Americans have a job and they've had a job through the '80s and they've done what they've had to do to keep a job.
MS. MYERS: But if you look at The New York Times today, 40 percent of people think that someone, an adult in their household could lose that job within the next 12 months. There is no sense of job security out there. The American people don't think that we've solved the jobs problem. Even people with jobs feel that those jobs are somewhat precarious.
I think that what we're going to do -- and again, the unemployment rate has been over seven percent for 14 consecutive months. The President believes that's too high. But I think what the President has tried to make clear is that we have to change. We have to fundamentally change. We have to change the way we invest. We failed to invest in the last decade. We have to change the way we look at the deficit. We can't play blue smoke and mirrors with the deficit numbers anymore and pretend things aren't as bad as they are. He's going to give the American people straight talk on the deficit, and he's going to implement a bold plan to reduce it -- to move those numbers back in the other direction so that we can have a competitive economy in the long term.
I think the American people will benefit from that. This is an investment strategy that looks at investing in our people again, that creates jobs, trains people, protects our children, improves schools, provides a health care plan eventually that will work for everybody. Those are the differences between tax and spend. This isn't just creating programs to give money away, it's fundamentally changing the direction of the economy and the principles that we use to determine how we spend that money.
Q percentage on how much he wants to shave off the
debt in the first year, or is there a number that you're using as a target or a goal?
MS. MYERS: Well, we'll have the specifics. Normally the numbers that are kicked around are the out-year, the '97 deficit figures. But we'll have those on Wednesday night.
Q For Joe Six-pack out there waiting to see the impact of this program, what criterion will you use to say it's been a success?
MS. MYERS: Well, hopefully, I think there will be a number of ways to measure reaction. There will be anectodotal. I'm sure a number of people, news organizations will do polls.
Q No, I don't mean the presentation, I mean the other end of this process.
MS. MYERS: Well, the other end of the process will obviously be judged by what form the package gets through Congress and what pieces get implemented. I don't think that we're going to -- I don't think we can say at this point that if "x" percentage of the President's proposals pass, we'll consider that a success. If we can fundamentally change the way -- the investment priorities of the country, if we can create jobs and get the deficit moving in the right direction, I think it will be successful.
Q If you achieve a turn in the road, that will be a success, not the specific drop in unemployment or a specific increase in investment?
MS. MYERS: Hopefully there will be both of those, but I think a general turn in the direction is what we're -- the President is hoping to achieve, and the long-term move toward change.
Q Dee Dee, has or will your office issue a list of which Cabinet members are traveling where? And is the Vice President going anywhere?
MS. MYERS: The Vice President is going I can't remember where. But, yes, we can provide that.
Q Today? MS. MYERS: I believe it's almost ready, so probably today. Q All the briefings on the deficit -- is there something new on the deficit that's going to be -- MS. MYERS: No, it's an opportunity for anybody that's
interested. Gene will go through -- there's a lot of questions whenever the President says, or anybody, any of us, say the deficit is $50 billion bigger than anybody thought it was. And people say, well, you should have known; didn't you know in the fall. And Gene can go through the numbers and the projections to say nobody knew -- not the OMB, not the CBO, not the economists. Nobody expected that anywhere from $30 billion to $70 billion increase in the deficit for the next four or five years, and then it accelerates beyond that. So there was a change in the project.
Q Have you seen the President today? What was his reaction to last night's address? Did he get across the points he wanted? And what kind of reaction did he get either from switchboard or from telephone calls from friends or supporters?
MS. MYERS: He felt very good about it. As you know, he
worked all evening on it last night, tried to be very careful about what he was going to say. He wanted to be very straight with the American people. I think he was. I think he wanted to present this as a call to action, a call to arms, and to ask the American people to join him in the crusade. I think he feels very good about that.
The switchboard I think closes at 9:00 p.m., and so there wasn't a lot of anecdotal or numbers information from the telephone here at the White House. But he felt very good about it. The only other was the ABC poll, which I think people felt good about -- by a margin of two to one, people were willing to follow their President and to try to make the changes that he's called for at least today. They want to hear more, which they will on Wednesday.
Q I just want to check a couple of things that you've said. I'm sorry if I'm a little foggier than usual this morning. You said that this stimulus package is to take effect in fiscal --what?
MS. MYERS: I said -- I probably said '83; I meant '93. Q In fiscal '93? MS. MYERS: Right, so it's -- Q Now. MS. MYERS: Now, this year. It's a supplemental into the current budget. Q Before this coming October 1. MS. MYERS: Correct. We'll have to require a supplemental into the current budget. Q And the only other thing that I want to make sure
that I understood you saying -- the effect of the President's package as far as taxes on people goes, you're saying that everybody that makes $30,000 a year or more is going to pay more taxes, but that 70 percent of the money that's raised from that is going to come from people that make $100,000 a year or more?
MS. MYERS: Exactly. Q Why was the President satisfied with 70 percent instead of 100 percent? MS. MYERS: He believes everybody should be asked to
contribute. In order for the package to be fair, in order for the American people to accept it they want it to be fair, everybody needs to contribute but people who did better will be asked to contribute more.
Q He believes everybody who makes over $30,000 should --
MS. MYERS: Everybody who makes over $30,000 a year will be asked to contribute. Correct.
Q What is the schedule on briefings tomorrow? Q What are the coverage guidelines for Gene Sperling's -- MS. MYERS: Yes, I'll go through that. Today at 3:15
p.m. in OEOB 450 --
Q Will we get that here? MS. MYERS: I don't believe so. The question was when
are the briefings and what are the guidelines. The guidelines are that they are background, not for camera, not for sound.
The other briefings are, there's a 10:00 a.m. briefing at Treasury tomorrow. It's a technical briefing meant primarily for I think people that cover the Treasury Departments and needs all the in's and out's of that. If you have questions you can talk to Jack DeVore over at Treasury. And then at 11:30 a.m. in OEOB 450 again, Leon Panetta, Laura Tyson and Gene Sperling will brief mostly to the White House Press Corps on specific details of the package. That will be embargoed until the speech is delivered at 9:00 p.m. tomorrow.
Q Is that for camera? MS. MYERS: That is not for camera. Ground rules -- background, embargoed until after 9:00 p.m. Q Can it go on the wire with an embargoed time? MS. MYERS: No, it's -- you guys can obviously write it, but you can't move it until the speech. Q Will they have paper there and include the whole package? MS. MYERS: I don't believe -- I don't know what paper --
Gene was still sort of making some decisions about what he could give out. I don't believe all of the paper is ready yet, but he'll go through specifics.
Q Of the whole thing, there won't be any mystery in an embargo basis?
MS. MYERS: There won't be any magic asterisks. I think he'll give it to you as straight as possible. And most of the decisions -- I think all of the decisions virtually will have been made. So he won't leave out big parts.
Q When will Congress start leaking it? (Laughter.) MS. MYERS: I mean what's wrong with now? Q 11:35 a.m. -- MS. MYERS: You guys should be over there asking them. Q What time is Sterling's briefing today? You said 3:15 or 3:30 p.m. MS. MYERS: Three-fifteen today, 11:30 a.m. tomorrow. Q And that's if for tomorrow then? MS. MYERS: Right. Q When will you have the paper version of the package completed? MS. MYERS: The speech text will be available as soon as
-- I mean will be ready as soon as it's available. I have no guidance on that. (Laughter.)
Q Here we go again.
MS. MYERS: Perhaps. And there'll be other background documents that will hopefully be ready before that. I just don't know what their latest thinking is. I know they're still in progress.
Q How long is the speech? Q Do you know what the size of those are? MS. MYERS: No. The speech is about -- less than 30
minutes -- 30 minutes or less. And then there will be an OEOB package, a document that won't be ready until Thursday that will outline the -- go through sort of specific line-item by line-item with the specific cuts.
Q Wait a minute. You say line-item by line-item until Thursday?
MS. MYERS: Not until Thursday. Q So what will we get tomorrow? MS. MYERS: You'll get other information on it.
(Laughter.) The brief -- I mean, Gene and Panetta and those guys will be prepared to talk about the specifics. They can walk you through the broad outlines of the package, I think tell you most of what you will need to know. And then Thursday, as soon as the OMB document is ready -- it just won't be ready before then -- it will be available with an even greater level of specificity. But I think people are ready to talk about this and there will be information that's very specific. Without saying how many dollars will be spent on specifically what project, I think there's going to be a lot of specific information.
Q Will there be another briefing on Thursday? MS. MYERS: We don't have one scheduled, but if people feel it's useful then -- Q What time are we traveling Thursday? MS. MYERS: We travel -- we leave here around 1:00 p.m.. So it may not be possible. Q Is the President at all concerned that George Bush
insisted throughout the campaign he would raise taxes on the middle class, and he did or he is?
MS. MYERS: I think the President never made any "read my lips" pledges. He learned that from his predecessor. Once there were changes in the budget realities he had to reevaluate the decisions that he made.
Q I recognize that, and I know he didn't make any "read my lips" pledges. But he also said "no, I'm not going to raise taxes on the middle class. I'm going to do it on the rich." And --
MS. MYERS: I think he answered that last night. He said, "I've worked as hard as I've ever worked on anything in my life, and I could not do it."
Q Wait, when he stumps around New Hampshire and says, I'm going to cut the tax -- give a middle class tax cut, is that not a "read my lips" pledge that he has, in fact broken?
MS. MYERS: He was very, very specific and very, very clear about saying, I'm not going to make any 'read my lips' pledges. He did it throughout the campaign and on television in front of 100
Q Did he not, in fact, give one early in the primaries by saying --
Q And George Bush was -- MS. MYERS: He never did. Q was just as clear in saying that the middle class is where the money is. This was going to happen. MS. MYERS: George Bush tried to tell the American people
that he was going to cut their taxes and cut the deficit. They didn't believe him. They voted for Bill Clinton, who said that he was going to reorder investment priorities in this country, that he was going to invest in our people again, that he was going to do something about the deficit. And the package he'll introduce tomorrow night will do that. Above all, it will be fair.
I think the American people want somebody who's going to talk straight to them, they want somebody that's going to treat them fairly. The middle class believes that they've paid more than their fair share over the course of the past decade, and the President's going to reverse that. As he said last night, you won't be out there alone anymore. We're going to ask the rich to pay their fair share, corporations to pay their fair share. We're going to take on the special interests and the well-heeled lobbyists. And we're going to get this package through.
Q Dee Dee, in this CBS-New York Times poll you mentioned, there was a question showing that a majority of Americans saying that the change in the economic situation is not a good enough reason for the President to back away from his promises.
MS. MYERS: I don't read it that way. What the people are saying is that nobody wants to have their taxes raised, but if the package is fair, they'll support it and they're waiting to see the details. We believe the package is very fair. That's why 70 percent of the burden falls on people who did the best in the 1980s, whose incomes are over $100,000.
Q Dee Dee, as you may be seeing, the inside the Beltway crowd seemed to have been fairly critical of this plan. The Post today, for example, seems to describe $100,000 as middle income. How does that --
MS. MYERS: It's interesting. I don't think -- maybe in Washington it's -- people who work at The Post that's the middle of the income scale, but --
Q Ooooh. Q How does that drive your plans to take this campaign on the road and kind of ignore the inside the Beltway crowd? MS. MYERS: I think the President's always been committed
to continuing his dialogue with the American people. I think he wants to go out there and have a conversation with them about what they do think about the package and continue to emphasize that everybody's going to be asked to contribute to this, but that everybody will benefit from it. He's going to ask them directly to work with him to get it passed through Congress.
Thanks. Q Is Hyde Park on or off? MS. MYERS: It's somewhere in the Hudson Valley. It's no -- Q But there is a stop, it just may not be there? MS. MYERS: Right. END9:54 A.M. EST