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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release March 8, 1993
                            PRESS BRIEFING
                           BY DEE DEE MYERS

The Briefing Room

5:50 P.M. EST

MS. MYERS: Tomorrow's schedule. The President will meet with the Senate Budget Committee at 9:00 a.m. At 10:35 a.m., he will greet President Mitterrand in the Oval Office.

Q What time?

MS. MYERS: 10:35 a.m. -- there will be a pool op at the top of that meeting. At 12:15 p.m. they will proceed to the East Room for a press conference.

Q How long?

MS. MYERS: The usual half-hour or so.

Q Can you back up -- the Senate budget --

MS. MYERS: Pool. You know what -- let me check. Pool spray at the beginning of the Senate Budget Committee meeting. The Q&A with Presidents Mitterrand and Clinton will last roughly half an hour. Then at 1:00 p.m., they will proceed to the Old Family Dining Room in the Residence for lunch. A little after 2:00 p.m. -- 2:10 p.m. -- the President will escort President Mitterrand to the South Lawn for his departure. And the rest of the afternoon the President will spend in a series of meetings. And then at 7:00 p.m. he will go to the J.W. Marriott for a drop-by at the Strom Thurmond birthday reception, which is closed to the press.

Q That's just a drop-by. He doesn't say --


Q What birthday is that, a hundred?

Q Ninety.

MS. MYERS: I think there's -- actually this is an issue of some dispute, even by the senators on staff.

Q Can we get a picture of the departure?

MS. MYERS: Of the departure for the reception or him coming --

Q Departure of Mitterrand.

MS. MYERS: Oh, yes.

Q Dee Dee, have you built any translation time into that 30 minutes tomorrow, and also taken into account the length at which Monsieur Mitterrand tends to go on in his answers?

MS. MYERS: It will be 30 minutes, all inclusive. Thirty minutes, give or take --

Q How much time --

MS. MYERS: Our President gives very succinct answers, to the point.

Q I know, but Mitterrand --

MS. MYERS: Somehow, after watching this press corps roll over the British press corps -- I think they got one question, and I got yelled at. I think you guys will have no trouble.

Q How's Mitterrand getting here? Is he driving down from Dulles. They said he was going to land at Dulles about --

MS. MYERS: I don't have the details on that. Let me just see if it -- he is flying on the Concord.

Q No overnight?

MS. MYERS: I don't know what the rest of his schedule entails. All I show is that he's going to meet him in the Oval Office, so I don't know how the French President will arrive.

Q Did the President make any decisions today on the -- in terms of cuts or --

MS. MYERS: Well, he had a good meeting with the members of the House Budget Committee, and basically agreed to accept $55 billion in additional cuts over five years, which will be worked out by the committee.

Q Over five years --

MS. MYERS: Over five years. The package that they had proposed was, I think, $3.7 billion in Fiscal '94.

Q What impact does that have on the stimulus package?

MS. MYERS: The stimulus -- it was none is the answer.

Q How much of that comes out of the spending proposals?

MS. MYERS: None of it comes out of the stimulus package. That was not the proposal discussed today. The rest of it -- we'll have to wait and see what the budget committee comes back with. They haven't made -- some of it --

Q He's bought a pig in a poke on this? He doesn't know how much comes out of the spending proposals?

MS. MYERS: He's willing to move forward and commit to $55 billion over five years, and we'll work with Congress over the next several months to work that out. But at this point the budget committee has not made all of those through specific recommendations that will get us to $55 billion. So we'll continue to work on that.

Q He's going to tell the Senate Budget Committee that tomorrow?


Q Is either supercollider or the space station affected in this $55 billion?

MS. MYERS: We'll have to wait and see.

Q Well, when you say over the next several months, you mean this is going to show up in the budget resolution that's going to be passed before spring break?

MS. MYERS: The total amount will.

Q reflecting the $55 billion --

MS. MYERS: Correct.

Q And those will be by budget function, right? So, has he signed off on each of the budget categories, but not specific programs?

MS. MYERS: I don't know if he signed off on the specific budget categories or not. I'll have to get back to you on that, or whether he's just willing to work with them to implement it.

Q Has he signed off or is the -- because he's meeting with Senate budget tomorrow, he's not signed off?

MS. MYERS: Well, he basically -- the proposal comes from both, or particularly, the House Budget Committee. And he basically agreed to accept $55 billion in additional cuts to get to the level that CBO had calculated.

Q What does it bring the cuts -- the total?

MS. MYERS: One hundred forty billion dollars over four years.

Q He's still open to new cuts then. Since these are not new cuts, this is really meeting his original target --

MS. MYERS: It's new specific cuts. But as you know, we believe our numbers are good, but we'll work with Congress to enact $55 billion in additional cuts over five years to make sure we get $140 billion in spending cuts.

Q So to clarify, he's just agreed to the figure; he hasn't agreed to from where they'll come.

MS. MYERS: Correct. That is information that's just not available yet. But we'll continue --

Q Nothing is off the table from that $55 billion?

MS. MYERS: Like what?

Q Like Social Security --

MS. MYERS: Well, I think that there are no plans now in Congress to cut COLAs for Social Security or --

Q Are there any other areas that are off like that?

MS. MYERS: We'll have to wait and see what Congress comes back to. I think it's important to note that there aren't specific plans right now to cut COLAs.

Q Wait a minute, Dee Dee, you said that he disagreed to a number today; he doesn't really know where the money's coming from?

MS. MYERS: The House Budget Committee has not put forward a specifically detailed proposal. They have some --

Q That may be so, but as a general matter, do you have any idea where the money's coming from? I think you do, don't you?

MS. MYERS: Some of it, sure.

Q mostly out of domestic discretionary?

MS. MYERS: Some of it is, but we'll have to wait and see specifically what gets worked out.

Q Dee Dee, can you run through the year-by-year cuts that get us to $55 billion? You said $3.7 billion --

MS. MYERS: Yes, it's the only one I have right now is Fiscal '94, which is $3.7 billion.

Q Senator Sasser said that most of the $50-plus billion would come by stretching out Clinton's long-term investment strategy over a longer period of time. Does the President accept that notion?

MS. MYERS: He's willing to work with Congress to work out the specific details.

Q Is that a yes?

MS. MYERS: We'll have to wait and see how it gets worked out.

Q Dee Dee, this basically just gets you to where you thought you were a couple of weeks ago. In other words, to where you wanted to be before the CBO came in with more negative projections. But the President had said before the CBO projections that he wanted to see more cuts. Do you think that this is going to satisfy the desire of the people out there and people in Congress to cut beyond what the President had proposed?

MS. MYERS: Well, I think clearly that's what the Democrats on the budget committee are indicating that they wanted to see additional cuts. They believe that this additional $55 billion over five years gets additional cuts. And I think that they feel comfortable going forward with the budget package. We'll see what gets worked out.

If people come forward with additional specific cuts, the President is still willing to look at them. I think people do see this as further cuts. It's a step in the right direction for a lot of people who are concerned that there weren't enough spending cuts.

Q Can follow up for a second? This leaves the deficit in the same place that it would have been before the CBO came in, right? So, why does this count as -- further cuts?

MS. MYERS: Well, it depends on -- I mean, you get into complicated budget calculations and reestimates. And we believe our numbers are good. We used very conservative growth figures. We started at a different baseline than the CBO did. And we used a number of different estimates in the process. Some of the Democrats on the budget committee wanted to see us meet the CBO targets using a different set of calculations, and we're willing to work with them. I think there will be a number of reestimates throughout this process, and I think we'll just have to wait and see how it gets resolved.

Q The CBO is your arbiter of choice, right?

MS. MYERS: The CBO is our arbiter of choice for growth figures but we didn't use CBO's baseline; we used our own baseline, which is -- starts from -- actually starts from a higher deficit number.

Q Dee Dee, why is it that it's -- if the President is going to go along with $55 billion worth of cuts and you are going to wait and see what they work out in terms of what they are; but when some Republican comes along and says, you ought to cut deeper, you say, well, be specific. This isn't very specific, is it?

MS. MYERS: We're going to work with the members of the committee to get the specific cuts.

Q Well, I know, but you already -- if you've agreed to $55 billion worth of cuts in advance without even knowing what they are, how can you call on anybody else to, quote, "be specific"?

MS. MYERS: We're going to work with members of the budget committee to get these cuts and we think it's -- we're going to get a good budget resolution out of this process. Soon.

Q Dee Dee, Barney Frank said that Medicare was one of the things that would be exempt from the $55 billion. Is that something that was specifically discussed in the meeting, and what's the President's position on that?

MS. MYERS: The President's position is that he'll continue to work with the budget committee to work out the specifics, and I don't know if that was taken off the table. We'll have to get back to you on that.

Q Dee Dee, to follow up on Brit's question, doesn't this really contradict what the President has said about, he doesn't want to use these general figures -- like just say we're going to cut this much and figure out the details later. I mean, maybe there are $55 billion of cuts that the President is willing to make.

MS. MYERS: The President is willing to work with the House Budget Committee to get to the target set in the budget resolution, which will include --

Q Isn't this, in effect, a cap?

MS. MYERS: It will include -- the budget resolution will reflect these additional cuts: $55 billion over five years. And we'll work to meet those -- work to meet the limits that are set in the resolution.

Q Dee Dee, if the President has already accepted this $55 billion cut, what's the purpose of tomorrow's meeting with the Senate budget guys?

MS. MYERS: They're consistent. They're working toward the same goal. We think we can get --

Q They want the same thing, but --

MS. MYERS: Senator Sasser was -- said today that he believes that $55 billion is acceptable.

Q So what's the purpose of the meeting tomorrow morning?

MS. MYERS: To talk about how to reach those targets. There's a lot of details to be discussed, and we expect to have resolution out of the Senate Budget Committee soon as well.

Q Is it fair to assume that in general terms you do in fact know exactly where this is coming from?

MS. MYERS: I don't think exactly, no. But we'll work with the committees to figure it out.

Q Is it fair to assume that since the House budget figures are going to be requiring -- going much further on Pentagon budget cuts than you have proposed --

MS. MYERS: Additional $55 billion? I don't think you can assume that.

Q The House will ask for some of that to include more Pentagon cuts, defense cuts, than the Senate wants or that the White House has proposed. Are you ready to go ahead and accept more military cuts?

MS. MYERS: The President has said he thinks he's cut the military as much as it can be cut.

Q So that would exempt the military, would it not? What does that mean?

MS. MYERS: Defense cuts?

Q Yes.

MS. MYERS: The military is part of the defense budget.

Q No, but what are you saying? I mean, are you saying that it's exempt?

MS. MYERS: The President has cut as much as he feels he can cut from the military from the Pentagon budget.

Q But Barney Frank told us that there were some cuts for the Pentagon in this budget, though he said not enough to make Sam Nunn fear for the safety of Georgia. If the House Budget Committee wants further cuts in the military budget --

MS. MYERS: Well, we'll have to look and see what they are. I mean, it depends on how much money we're talking about, but the President, again, has said that he thinks he's cut about as much as can be cut from the Pentagon budget and not to look to the Pentagon budget for the $55 billion in additional cuts. That's not where the bulk of it's going to come from.

Q Is that an absolute statement?

MS. MYERS: That what? Not to look for the $55 billion to all come out of the defense budget, yes.

Q For any of it to come out of the defense budget?

MS. MYERS: I don't think you can say with any certainty any, but I think don't look for the bulk of those cuts to come out of the defense budget.

Q Now you're saying bulk of the cuts. So some of it --

MS. MYERS: I mean, there may be some -- I mean, I can't say with certainty there won't be some minor adjustments in the defense budget, but that is not where the bulk of the cuts will come from.

Q Dee Dee, on a different subject. Can you -- give any more details on Friday's -- how the President's going to get to the carrier, what sort of logistics there are going to be --

MS. MYERS: We'll fly from here to the carrier.

Q By helicopter?

MS. MYERS: The President will probably fly by helicopter. The press will probably fly some kind of military transport. We're going to take as many people as we can, probably more than a pool, probably anybody that wants to go in probably some kind of aircraft that actually tailhooks onto the carrier.

Q That will cut down signups. (Laughter.)

MS. MYERS: Everybody's going except for the President, who's going to fly some kind of -- it's about probably an hour-plus flight. We expect the Roosevelt to be somewhere around a 100-plus miles off the coast of Virginia by the time we get there.

Q If he went Thursday --

MS. MYERS: We'll probably stay out there for three or so hours and then come back to Washington.

Q Do you know what time -- roughly be back here or the President will be back here?

MS. MYERS: I think -- generally the schedule we're looking for is to leave here late morning and come back late afternoon. It's about an hour-plus flight, maybe an hour-and-a-half there and back, so, you know, it's about a six-hour excursion.

Q Are there no filing facilities?

MS. MYERS: There will be a phone there for the pool and possibly the wires. I don't know quite how it's going to work. There will not be full filing facilities. We'll have to come back here for that.

Q So this will be fed out --

MS. MYERS: There will be a plane that will leave early to take tape back and film back if people want to do that.

Q (inaudible) --

MS. MYERS: Yes. Unless Jeff Eller can set up a satellite relay conference out of the ship. No, I don't think that's --

Q Dee Dee, why is the President going to Strom Thurmond's birthday dinner?

MS. MYERS: He was invited and a lot of people are going, so he thought it would be a gesture of goodwill.

Q Is this make nice to Republicans weeks? I mean, what are you guys doing Wednesday?

MS. MYERS: We always make nice with Republicans. Republicans are our friends.

Q George was asked this morning if the President had been on an aircraft carrier before or even any other warships. Have you found that out?

MS. MYERS: I don't have a definitive answer on that. Sorry.

Q Do you have anything on arrangements for covering Nixon tonight?

MS. MYERS: There are none. It's closed.

Q Will he sneak in through a back door and sneak out?

MS. MYERS: I don't know exactly what the in and out arrangements are, but there is no plan for him to go to a stakeout. Now, if he chooses to do so on his way out, I'm sure you will make that possible.

Q Are you going to tape the session? Just kidding. (Laughter.)

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END6:05 P.M. EST