THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS The Briefing Room
5:41 P.M. EST
Q How much do you make?
MS. MYERS: Not enough. Not enough.
How about a few details about tomorrow's schedule.
Q Yeah, yeah --
MS. MYERS: Very exciting. The President will leave here around 9:25 a.m. tomorrow on his way to American University. The speech will begin at approximately 10:00 a.m., with introductions. He'll attend a brief VIP reception at American University before returning to the Oval Office. And then the rest of the afternoon will be with staff meetings, private meetings. And that's it.
And the radio address --
Q And he goes to Camp David, right? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: For better or for worse, he is not going to Camp David. He'll be giving the radio address at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday. And this point that's the only event scheduled for the weekend. We expect the rest of it to be down, but, of course, that could change.
Q On the American University speech, George was saying that it's going to be primarily about the economic plan.
MS. MYERS: It's global economics.
Q All right. Some other people are talking around town, saying it's going to be mainly about trade.
MS. MYERS: It's not going to be mainly about trade. It's more of sort of an outline of his global economic philosophy, how he thinks the plan will impact the global economic situation. I'm sure he'll touch on trade, but that is not the main thrust of the speech. Although you can't really talk about the international economic situation without talking some about trade.
Q Is this preceding the G-7 meeting in London on Saturday with the finance ministers -- is there any tie-in between the two of those?
MS. MYERS: Not directly, but obviously, it will deal with some of the issues that will be talked about at the meeting in London.
Q Does he have a message for the folks meeting in London?
MS. MYERS: I think he will sort of outline his international economic philosophy and how he thinks the plan will affect it.
Q What members of Congress are here now? Are they meeting with the President?
MS. MYERS: They are -- it is Senator Simon, Senator DeConcini, Senator Bryan, Rep. Stenholm, Payne and Joseph Kennedy .
Q And what's the topic?
MS. MYERS: The economic plan, particularly deficit reduction.
Q Why this group?
MS. MYERS: They asked for the meeting.
Q Are they coming pressing one particular --
MS. MYERS: They're concerned and committed to deficit reduction. They want to talk to the President about that. I can't talk about the specific details of the meeting.
Q What phase of it -- spending cuts, tax increases?
MS. MYERS: Well, they're in the meeting right now. I can't comment on what they talked about.
Q But the agenda was to press for more spending cuts? MS. MYERS: The agenda was to talk about the economic
plan, particularly deficit reduction. They just want to talk to him about that. I can't say specifically what because they're in there right now discussing those things.
Q Deficit reduction including new taxes and new spending cuts, or were they emphasizing more -- they were coming to suggest spending cuts?
MS. MYERS: I can't talk about what they're talking about because they're talking about it now.
Q Right, but I'm asking, the reason they were able to see the President.
MS. MYERS: They came in to see him. He meets with members of Congress regularly. As you know, he's probably met with more than 300 members since he's been President.
Q Did this meeting get set up sometime during the day or has this been on the schedule?
MS. MYERS: No, it's been on the schedule.
Q How many hands has he shaken in the last -- (laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I think, since he's been President, roughly 217,361 -- but I'll get back to you on that. (Laughter.)
Q Earlier in the week you had made it very clear --it had been made very clear here that the United States did not intend to act alone in Bosnia. What happened?
MS. MYERS: Well, I don't think we're acting alone, we're acting in coordination with the United Nations on this. As you know, the President met with Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. He's met with Prime Minister John Major. He's talked with a number of people on the U.N. Security Council and others who are involved in this. The U.K. is continuing to provide the distribution of humanitarian supplies on the ground; we're going to provide the airlift, and I think it's very much an international effort.
Q Without any direct participation in the airlift by any other country?
MS. MYERS: We've invited others. At this point we're prepared to do it ourselves.
Q So has any other country turned you down -- has any country specifically turned you down that you can tell us?
MS. MYERS: Well, again, as you know, we've invited other countries to participate, but we're willing to do it ourselves. We're doing it within the framework of United Nations Security Council Resolution 770 and with full coordination with the United Nations.
Q What did the President mean when he said several countries had volunteered? What was he talking about?
MS. MYERS: I think at this point we're going forward and we've invited other countries to participate and we'll wait and see what happens.
Q The President said there had been several volunteers. Can you explain why they are not involved in --
MS. MYERS: I would refer you to the Defense Department for the specifics on that.
Q When is the first airlift?
MS. MYERS: He can't comment -- they can't comment on the specific operational details until it's happened.
Q Can you say roughly -- I mean, within a week?
Q Days, or what?
MS. MYERS: Soon. We can't comment on the specific operational details.
Q By the end of the weekend?
MS. MYERS: Can't comment on the specific operational details. Soon.
Q A matter of days, though, Dee Dee?
Q This is a humanitarian mission. This is not a military mission, his is a humanitarian mission the President said.
MS. MYERS: We can't comment on the specific operational details. It will happen soon.
Q Can you be any more specific than soon?
MS. MYERS: Soon. Again, there was a briefing at the Defense Department today. They did not want to comment on the operational details of this.
Q Can you say what unit you'd be measuring this in, days, hours, weeks?
MS. MYERS: Millennia. No, I mean soon.
Q Dee Dee, is it still possible that other countries could participate or is it ruled out?
MS. MYERS: No, it's possible.
Q Will there be others, or not?
MS. MYERS: Pardon me?
Q Will there be other countries, or not?
MS. MYERS: Others have been invited. At this point we're prepared to move forward.
Q What was their reply? Have they accepted?
MS. MYERS: At this point, we're prepared to move forward. We'll see what happens.
Q Can I ask you this? We are prepared to move forward as the operational people on this. But what about the supplies that we're dropping? Are those all American, or are there supplies coming from other countries?
MS. MYERS: I don't know the specific details of where the supplies are coming from. Again, I'd refer you to the DOD on that, exactly what's being dropped. It's, as you know, food and medicine, but I don't know who is contributing it.
Q Dee Dee, I still don't understand. What is your explanation of the President's reference to volunteers?
MS. MYERS: I simply said that countries have been invited, and at this point we're prepared to go to do it unilaterally, but we'll wait and see.
Q You said some countries had volunteered.
Q So he misspoke then, I guess.
Q Well, what's the volunteer reference to?
MS. MYERS: I'll have to get back to you on exactly what he meant. At this point, as you know, other countries have been invited to participate. We're prepared to go it alone.
Q But you say invited, and he said that they had volunteered. Does that mean that some countries have volunteered and have been turned down, or what is the implication?
MS. MYERS: Nobody's been -- well, I will --
Q It's a matter of language here -- volunteer and being invited aren't the same thing; they're opposite, in fact. So what is the situation?
MS. MYERS: Other countries have been invited.
Q Dee Dee, is it still possible that if other countries would agree?
MS. MYERS: I think it is still possible.
Q Have other countries have been invited to fly missions on their own?
MS. MYERS: I don't think anybody has to be invited to fly a mission on their own.
Q But what has the United States invited other countries to do?
MS. MYERS: To participate in the airdrop.
Q What would the terms of the participation be?
MS. MYERS: That would be something that could be worked out with the specific countries.
Q Dee Dee, are you willing to say the United States has not rejected any request to participate in this?
MS. MYERS: I'm prepared to say that other countries have been invited, and we'll see what happens.
Q The President of the United States has said, we have had several volunteers.
MS. MYERS: Nobody's making anybody do anything, Wendell. Other countries have been invited, and we'll see what happens.
Q Are you still consulting right now at this moment with some countries to convince them to take part in the operation?
MS. MYERS: We'll continue to talk with other countries about this as the process goes forward.
Q It's still going on right now?
Q What's the cost of this operation, do you know, Dee Dee, and how it's going to be paid for?
MS. MYERS: It is not particularly costly. I don't have the specific figures. Again, you can get those probably from DOD.
Q Do you have any scope of the overall drop?
MS. MYERS: No, it's not particularly costly.
Q I meant the weight of the supplies that are going to be dropped, how many missions will be flown -- that kind of thing?
MS. MYERS: No. For the operational details you'll have to talk to the Defense Department.
Q Dee Dee, how do you want to leave it on the sin taxes as the day closes?
MS. MYERS: Exactly where it was left earlier. Nothing has changed. (Laughter.)
Q clarify where it was left earlier. So, basically, we can say that a cigarette tax, alcohol tax and maybe gun taxes are all the same -- under consideration?
MS. MYERS: Again -- the President, I think, spoke very clearly about that today. He said he couldn't rule things out because he hadn't ruled anything in. He hasn't made decisions about that. He's considering a variety of options in terms of health care plans now, and we'll have a decision on that within the first 100 days.
Q He said in the photo op later when asked by the had the head of the wine institute, he said, well, I purposely stayed away from commenting on the alcohol one. Why was that?
MS. MYERS: He selected an example, and I think made it very clear that no decisions had been made. I think he indicated he'd given some thought to sin taxes, to tobacco taxes, but that he hasn't made any final decisions about it.
Q Do you think that alcohol increases the cost of health care in America?
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to comment on that.
Q Is it possible you might raise taxes on alcoholic beverages, excluding wine?
MS. MYERS: Again, we're considering a number of options right now and I'm not going to narrow it down.
Q What are the options for the summit meeting location? What is the President leaning toward?
MS. MYERS: I think we're working with the Russians now to find a mutually acceptable location. I don't know if there's any parameters around it.
Q Have they offered some places?
MS. MYERS: There's ongoing discussion about it.
Q It would definitely be in Europe?
MS. MYERS: Not necessarily.
Q Someplace warm, maybe?
Q How about the Caribbean?
MS. MYERS: Going to Rutgers University in New Jersey, but I don't have any of the specific details.
Q Do you know vaguely when we're leaving or --
MS. MYERS: No. I believe the speech is late morning, so we'll probably leave first thing in the morning and return. It's just a day trip. We're just flying up and back.
Q What's the speech about?
MS. MYERS: National service.
Q Can you rule out Little Rock on Thursday?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q You can't rule it out?
MS. MYERS: I can't rule it out.
Q What's going on there?
Q An award ceremony?
MS. MYERS: Yes. It's a March of Dimes award ceremony. The President and Mrs. Clinton are being honored. There's no final decision yet on his plans.
Q Can you rule out like a lengthy stay in Little Rock? (Laughter.)
Q Why is it that he hasn't decided yet or --
MS. MYERS: I don't think he -- there's no particular timetable on it. I think he's been invited and they'd love to have him.
Q building available?
MS. MYERS: He has not been back to Little Rock. We're looking into that. That would obviously be a major factor in our decision about whether or not we could go. If we could get those blue drapes back up and the fish --the big fish.
Q Would he make it a weekend?
MS. MYERS: I know there is a lot of interest in the press about going back to Little Rock for the weekend; so we are factoring that into our decision. (Laughter.)
Q Reservations --
MS. MYERS: Obviously, right -- reservations -- we're checking with those in the Capital Hotel now. (Laughter.)
Q I she contemplating a longer trip than one day?
MS. MYERS: Nothing is scheduled right now. But I'm sure there will be longer trips.
Q I mean next week.
MS. MYERS: The Rutgers trip? The New Jersey trip is definitely one day. The Little Rock trip -- there has been no decision on either whether to go or if he went how long he would stay.
Q Could you clarify the weekend status? Will there be a lid or what the situation is?
MS. MYERS: Over the weekend?
MS. MYERS: We'll know more by tomorrow. At this point the only event on his schedule is the radio address. But it is his intention to take some time down this weekend.
Q And is the press office thinking in terms of declaring a lid during that time in which announcements are to be made the way they would be during a lid or in having protective coverage here or what?
MS. MYERS: We haven't given much thought to that. I think tomorrow when we have a better look at the final plans. I mean, I would be more than happy to drop a lid if the President's reliably -- (laughter) -- '70's talk, Miklaszewski. (Laughter.) I know where your mind is. Geez -- exactly. (Laughter.)
Q What about a birthday party for Chelsea?
MS. MYERS: It is her birthday. I don't know what their specific plans are. She said she wanted to see a movie, Untamed Heart, I believe.
Q Untamed Heart?
Q Dee Dee, do you know if he has written a letter to a Palestinian peace negotiator Faisal Husseini? There's a report he's written a very encouraging letter to this negotiator.
MS. MYERS: I'll check, I'll have to get back to you on that. Faisal Husseini?
MS. MYERS: Who's a Palestinian negotiator.
Q In the peace talks, yes.
Q If A.U. snows out tomorrow are you still going? If they close down?
MS. MYERS: Yes, we'll have to monitor the weather situation. Last I heard it was about a 90-percent chance of snow, so we'll see what happens.
Q When is he going to call a Pacific Northwest forest summit? He talked about that during the campaign.
MS. MYERS: It's something that we're looking into.
Q Maybe this week?
MS. MYERS: Soon. (Laughter.) I don't expect it this week.
Q Soon. (Laughter.)
Q I'll get back to you on that.
MS. MYERS: Probably after the airlift but before the end of the administration. (Laughter.)
Q Is he tired?
MS. MYERS: I think he is a little tired.
Q Good. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: That's why I think he's looking forward to taking some down time over the weekend. As you know, he's been working very hard both drafting the economic plan and then communicating.
Q Could he forego a jogging trip?
MS. MYERS: What, do you have early pool duty tomorrow, Helen? If it's snowing that's probably -- as you know, as the chances for snow go up the chances for golf go up. (Laughter.) He prefers to play in sleet. Just kidding.
Q Such irreverence.
MS. MYERS: It's terrible. The later in the day it gets. Okay, thanks.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END5:55 P.M. EST