THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN PHOTO OPPORTUNITY DURING MEETING WITH HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE
The Roosevelt Room
10:20 A.M. EDT
Q Mr. President --
THE PRESIDENT: Let me just make a brief remark, and then I'll answer your questions.
First, I want to thank these members of the Ways and Means Committee for coming in for this meeting. This morning's economic figures on the performance of the United States economy in the first three months of the year clearly, I think, support the policies of this administration. They support filling out and implementing the budget commitment that the Congress has made to reduce the deficit and to increase targeted investments and to generate jobs.
It also plainly proves, I think, that the administration was right in trying to hedge against this economic slow growth by passing the jobs bill that the House of Representatives passed and that the Senate wanted to pass. It proves that we were right in both reducing the deficit and in trying to create some jobs right now in this economy. But it also proves that the long-term interests of the country will be served if we fulfill our commitments on the budget.
The budget, I think, is well under way. The Ways and Means Committee had a good day yesterday. And I think we can continue to show our commitment to bring the deficit down and to target our investments in areas that will create jobs. We'll have a long-term plan that's good. But it also proves, I think clearly, beyond any doubt, that the strategy of the administration to create some more jobs right now was the right strategy. The American people still need more employment, and we're going to do our best to give it to them.
Q Mr. President, 100 days -- have there been mistakes? Are there things you would do differently? What have you learned, what lessons?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I learned that things are not going to change quite as fast as I wanted them to. But I noticed there was -- one columnist a day or two ago in one of the major papers pointed out that at least the American people know that the Democratic Party is serious and the President is serious about deficit reduction. They know we're going to do something about health care reform. They know we're going to try to be partners with the private sector in rebuilding the economy. And they know we're trying to make the government work again -- with the National Service Program that I will announce tomorrow, and a whole other range of issues to try to give people educational and other opportunities. So I feel basically quite good about what's happened.
But this country has some serious problems, and we're going to have to get everybody serious about dealing with the problems. Now, I am very impressed so far with the work that we've been able to do with the House and with the majority in the Senate in getting the deficit down and in focusing on the investment needs of our people. But we've got a lot of work to do.
I think if you look at -- I don't know that 100 days is a rational category, but if you look at how much we've done and how much is well underway now as compared with most previous administrations in a similar time period, I think we're doing pretty well.
Q Did you take on too much, Mr. President?
Q Have you reached a decision on Bosnia yet, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: Helen, I have not. I still -- as you probably know, General Powell was away for most of the week in Europe. And I want to see and talk with him personally and have some other consultations on some of the military issues. And I have not. But we will do so soon and then we'll begin some pretty aggressive consultations with our allies.
Q took on too much, Mr. President? Do you have some concerns about that?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I will. You know, it's a question of -- the Vice President has a word for it -- sequence and timing, I think he calls it. I think -- I believe I got hired to try to do something about the economy and the health care issue, and to try to promote political reform and many other things we're trying to do. I don't expect -- when we put all these things out here, I don't expect them all to be resolved right away. But I think we're going to focus on the budget first. That's what we're doing today. Then we're going to take up -- we're going to focus on health care.
But this country still needs to remember that we've got to do these things to put people back to work and to solve their economic problems. That is the issue -- the economy. And that is what we are spending -- I'm spending two-thirds of my time or more on the economy and health care. And that's what I hope we can do in the Congress in the few weeks ahead.
Q So you're more optimistic than Mr. Panetta? You're more optimistic than Mr. Panetta?
THE PRESIDENT: I have more faith in Mr. Panetta's colleagues than he does. (Laughter.)
I think we're going to bring this deficit down, and I think we're going to get some investments passed. I think we're going to turn this economy around. I wish we could have done it faster. I still think we ought to create some jobs now. I think that was a mistake. But I think we just keep going. We'll make the progress we can and go on.
Q Thank you.
END10:26 A.M. EDT