THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS The Briefing Room
10:00 A.M. EDT
MS. MYERS: Good morning. The only two events on the President's schedule today are the 250th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Jefferson at noon at the Jefferson Memorial, which is open press. And at 8:30 p.m. he will participate in a satellite town meeting with Chamber of Commerce around the country at the Chamber of Commerce Building. At that will be 30 minutes.
Q What's his speech? Will it be strictly devoted to the Declaration of Independence and so forth?
MS. MYERS: He'll talk about Jefferson, but I think he will tie it to current events.
Q Like the stimulus package? (Laughter.)
Q Jefferson would have passed the stimulus package?
Q Jefferson would have voted for stimulus, is that it?
MS. MYERS: All things are connected in our world. Someone pointed out yesterday the Louisiana Purchase was the largest stimulus package in the history of the country. (Laughter.) I don't think that's in the speech, though.
Q Is it possible to have it in advance since it's written?
MS. MYERS: I don't know --
Q First page --
Q Really get it down much better.
MS. MYERS: If we have a final draft in advance of the speech I'll be happy to give you copies.
Q And tonight is --
Q What about tonight? How is that going to work? Are there people in the audience? What can you tell us about it?
MS. MYERS: I believe there will be both people in the audience and then people at various Chamber of Commerce locations around the country, which they'll connect via satellite.
Q Is it Q&A?
MS. MYERS: Yes, it's Q&A. And I will try to get you more information as soon as we have it on exactly what cities will be connected.
Q Will it be similar to the one in Detroit?
MS. MYERS: I don't think it will be quite that. Fancy, for lack of a better term.
Q And it will be piped in here, all of it?
MS. MYERS: I believe so.
Q And we'll be able to hear the questions?
MS. MYERS: You should be able to hear the whole thing. And I assume we'll have the satellite coordinates as well, which I'll double-check on.
Q What will Riley and Reich do then afterwards?
MS. MYERS: The Riley and Reich event is tomorrow.
Q It says on the schedule --
Q No, it says they're there tonight.
MS. MYERS: Oh, I'm sorry. I'll have to check on what their role is in it, but they're also having the event tomorrow, which is summer jobs.
Q So the President just comes and does his thing and then leaves and it goes on, is that the deal?
MS. MYERS: Correct. He's only there until his portion ends at 9:00 p.m., and then he comes back to the White House.
Q It shows 8:50 p.m., I think, on the schedule.
MS. MYERS: It's 8:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on my schedule, back here by 9:10 p.m.
Q Where is it?
MS. MYERS: Chamber of Commerce Building.
Q Does he take questions?
MS. MYERS: Yes. It's back and forth.
Q From people out there.
MS. MYERS: Correct.
Q Tomorrow -- is that a morning event also?
MS. MYERS: I'm not sure what the timing is tomorrow. It's sometime during the day in Crystal City.
Q That's just a straight speech?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q Has the President been in contact with Dole since he said he had egg on his face?
MS. MYERS: Not that I know of. The event tomorrow is sponsored by the Education and Labor Department.
Q And the topic?
MS. MYERS: The topic is the creation of summer jobs -- private-public partnerships to create more summer jobs.
Q Major speech?
MS. MYERS: It'll be a good speech. It will focus on creating summer jobs, the stimulus package.
Q Oh, yeah? No kidding -- good speech? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I know -- once again, going out on a limb.
Q You're really going out there. You've got to be careful. (Laughter.)
Q There's a report, I guess in the Dallas paper of FBI officials privately complaining that they have not been able to come up with a game plan for Waco, for storming the place or doing what one would want to do, because of resistance from the White House, that the White House has ordered no action at all. Can you tell me first of all, how often is the President briefed on this? Is there a presidential policy restricting the law enforcement officials' ability to develop a strategy --
MS. MYERS: First of all, the President is updated on the situation on a daily basis. He's made aware of what's happening in Waco.
Q By whom?
MS. MYERS: During his morning intelligence briefings. I can't reveal exactly the nature of those briefings and I haven't seen the stories, so I'll have to get back to you on that.
Q Can I just follow up? Have orders gone out? Over the weekend Lloyd Bentsen said that any action would have to be approved by him. Is it at the presidential level or is it at the Treasury Secretary's level that action against Koresh would be taken?
MS. MYERS: Again, let me get back to you on that.
Q Well, you don't know if shots are being called from here in terms of that situation?
MS. MYERS: I want to take a look at the story first and -- I mean, clearly, the ATF falls under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Treasury. The President is being kept aware of it, but I would hate to venture from this podium right now that the President is blocking decisions that are being made there.
Q Does he have an FBI Director? A new one?
MS. MYERS: We'll let you know as soon as there is a decision on that issue.
Q She's going to read the report someday? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: She has, in fact, made clear that she will review the report and report to the President on her findings.
Q But when she's told to review it?
MS. MYERS: It is -- we believe that the Attorney General is very capable of making that review as she sees fit.
Q She's waiting for Passover and the word from God. (Laughter.)
Q Dee Dee, what's the administration's reaction to the Japanese $117-billion stimulus package, and will the President ask for a part of that when Miyazawa comes on Friday?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think that the purpose of the stimulus package is to get the Japanese economy moving again. Obviously, the President has his own stimulus package which he would like to see approved by Congress. But I'm sure they will discuss a lot of bilateral issues and economic issues during their meeting on Friday.
Q Will the United States like to see some kind of a set-aside so we'd be guaranteed a certain percentage of that spending?
MS. MYERS: Well, again, that's something that the President and the Prime Minister will talk about. They'll talk about a number of bilateral trade and economic issues as well as international issues like Russia.
Q sales were down one percent in March for the second monthly decline. Do you have any comment on that and does the President feel that those figures reinforce his case for a stimulus package?
MS. MYERS: Absolutely. I think that all of the economic indicators have been mixed in recent weeks and months. I think the President is very concerned that not only has there been no job growth in the recovery, but that the recovery itself is not as sound as he would like it to be. I think it clearly reinforces the need for a stimulus package to create jobs and to secure the recovery at a time when it's, in some sectors, are weak.
Q Does the President disagree with the economists who say that retail sales were only down because of them losing?
MS. MYERS: I think there are a number of economic indicators which show that the economy -- that the recovery is not as robust as people would have hoped, and that it's important to reinforce the recovery now. That's why the President has proposed a stimulus package, and that's why he's going to continue to push for a stimulus package, and hope that the Senate Republicans will go along.
Q Do you expect the President to find some way to talk about the stimulus package and the bad Republicans as he praises one of the nation's Founding Fathers today?
MS. MYERS: I think he will clearly talk about Thomas Jefferson and the Jeffersonian ideals, and I think he will also mention some current events.
Q Majority rule?
MS. MYERS: Majority rule.
Q The Wall Street Journal reported that the health care report was going to be out May 17th. Is that accurate?
MS. MYERS: That's about right. We're looking at midMay.
Q Can you tell us about the Miyazawa visit Friday, what's going to happen? Is it typical of past heads of state? Is there going to be a luncheon?
MS. MYERS: It's a working visit, as opposed to a state visit, as have the other visits of heads of state. I don't have the exact schedule on it. What we'll try to do is a briefing probably not until Thursday, but a briefing in advance of the visit. And as soon as we have details on the exact agenda, we'll let you know.
Q Joint news conference?
MS. MYERS: I assume so.
Q When Clinton say yes when he means no? (Laughter.)
Q When is he going to have a state visit? I mean, we kind of miss the fife and drum corps.
MS. MYERS: Soon. But you can only have one state visit per country per administration, so we don't want to spend them all up front.
Q Who gets the first one?
Q What's it going to be? Zimbabwe? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: Helen, we thought we'd let you pick. So why don't you let us know what country you'd like us to start with? (Laughter.)
Q Any travel plans? Anything on the travel agenda?
MS. MYERS: No details. No specific decisions. travel agenda?
Q? Is there something being cooked up?
MS. MYERS: No. There's nothing planned as of right now.
MS. MYERS: I don't think so.
Q Is it true there are 2,500 unfilled top jobs or sub-Cabinet and so forth?
MS. MYERS: I don't have the specific breakdown on that. As you know, we're moving quite quickly now, announcing appointments every single day, and working with Congress to try to get the hearings of people that need confirmation scheduled and move forward with that. So I think we're making good progress on that. It is time-consuming. It does take quite a while to get all those appointments worked out, but we're making good progress.
Q Where's campaign finance reform?
MS. MYERS: We're working on it. We expect -- (laughter.)
Q Making good progress, right? It takes time? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: We're making good progress, but these things take time. (Laughter.)
Q When we have something to announce we'll let you know.
MS. MYERS: When we have something to announce we'll let you know. We expect something soon. (Laughter.)
Q Let me stay along this line for a moment. (Laughter.)
Q Why bother?
Q To establish a record; that's why. We want it in the record.
Q? Community development banks, something that the President talked about a lot in the campaign, as well as enterprise zones -- HUD say's that all of the top on this has been shifted over to the White House and the White House is coming up with the proposals on this. Can you fill me in on what is being done?
MS. MYERS: On community development banks and enterprise zones? We're working with different agencies. I don't have a specific timetable for announcements on those issues. Let's talk about this maybe in a little more detail afterwards.
Q Dee Dee, what does the President feel about the POW document that was discovered in the Russian -- in the former Soviet Communist Party archives?
MS. MYERS: Well, as you know the administration did not obtain a copy of that until April 8th. DOD is reviewing it now. I think the President is interested in hearing their analysis of the document. And as we said, General Vessey will certainly speak with the Vietnamese about it as a first order of business on his trip there later this week.
Q What is the administration's position going to be about the IMF funding for Vietnam this week?
MS. MYERS: We're reviewing it. We don't have a decision on that yet.
Q Does he consider the document authentic?
MS. MYERS: That's one of the things that we're looking, checking to see. Obviously, he's concerned about it, and we're taking a good, long look at it.
Q Do you have doubt that it's authentic?
MS. MYERS: We just want to -- we're reviewing it now.
Q Senator Kerry said last night that he doesn't doubt the authenticity, but he doubts -- or he has questions about the accuracy; that it could be an authentic document that misreported what was going on on the ground.
MS. MYERS: Clearly, that's among the possibilities. That's why we're reviewing it now.
Q Could you check for us what is the number of unfilled jobs at this point?
MS. MYERS: I don't know if we'll be able to get a specific number, but I'll check.
Q Well, within a hundred or so.
Q Has the President received the report yet from the Bosnia team?
MS. MYERS: No.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END10:13 A.M. EDT