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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 14, 1993
                           PRESS BRIEFING
                     OMB DIRECTOR LEON PANETTA, 


The Briefing Room

10:50 P.M. EDT

DIRECTOR PANETTA: Everybody has the handouts and all the material. All right, let me begin.

The action over the last week by 13 House committees we believe is a critical step toward the enactment of the President's economic plan. It's a clear sign the President's program is on track.

We began on February 17th with the President's presentation of an economic plan to the Congress and to the nation. Six weeks later, the Congress of the United States enacted a budget resolution which incorporated the outlines of that economic plan. And today, six weeks later, the House committees have taken action to implement that plan.

Thirteen committees of the House of Representatives have adopted spending cuts and revenue increases needed to implement President Clinton $500-billion deficit reduction plan. This plan is a balanced plan between spending and revenue savings. Nearly 100 specific spending cuts are included in the reconciliation savings. That's added to 100 discretionary cuts that will be part of the appropriations savings.

For every $3 that we achieve in spending cut savings, $2 go for deficit reduction and $1 goes for investments. On the revenue side, 75 percent of the revenues come from those earning $100,000 or more. For those of you that have followed the budget process in the past and the arguments over deficit reduction, every single sacred cow has been taken on in this package. There are Medicare savings totally almost $48 billion. Social Security provides almost $32 billion in savings. Agriculture, veterans programs, federal pay has been frozen, COLAs have been delayed for three months and four months under one of the proposals in the committees. So cost of living indexing has been delayed as part of this package.

Every one of the areas that we have constantly said Every one of the areas that we have constantly said ought to be part of deficit reduction is included in the reconciliation proposal that the Congress is moving forward and that the President has proposed.

In addition to that, there is very tough enforcement included in this package which will ensure that the deficit savings that we have targeted will, in fact, be achieved. The individual committee proposals will now be packaged into an omnibus reconciliation bill by the House Budget Committee, and we expect the bill to be adopted by the House before the end of May.

I want to take this time to congratulate the hundreds of House members, including the 13 chairmen of these committees, who worked to get the President's economic plan over one of its first significant hurdles. We have taken a major step towards the enactment of one of the largest deficit reduction packages in the history of this country. The net five-year deficit reduction contained in the reconciliation bill, including the enforcement provisions, will be expected to meet the targets of $496 billion under the Congressional Budget Office scoring, or $524 billion under the administration scoring.

Let me, if I can, summarize some of the savings that have been accomplished by each of the committees. And let me just say this -- talking about reducing the deficit is always easy. Doing something about it is tough. I suspect that over the next few days we're going to hear the same old critics saying, if you had just done a little more of this, if you had just done a little more of that, if we hadn't done this, if we hadn't done this, we might have supported this package. Those are the same old excuses that have brought us to a $4.4 trillion national debt. The time for yelling is over. The time for doing has arrived. And these committees have met that challenge.

Let me just mention, try to summarize some of the key accomplishments. In agriculture they had to achieve about $3 billion in savings as part of reconciliation. They did that by cutting deficiency payments and increasing triple-base acres from 15 to 20 percent. They reduced the market promotion program to about $148 million per year. They cut funding for the Rural Electric Administration, the REA, by implementing reforms in that area.

The House Armed Services Committee had to achieve in excess really of almost $2 billion. They did it by delaying 1994 military retiree COLAs by four months, from January to May 1994. In addition to that, they delayed the 1995 through 1998 military retiree COLAs by three additional months each year. In addition to that, they froze military pay in 1994.

The House Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs had in excess of $3 billion to achieve in savings. They did it through increasing enforcement and through implementing reforms in banking practices.

The House Education and Labor Committee, $6 billion in savings, and that was largely done through implementing the Guaranteed Student Loan Program -- or converting the Guaranteed Student Loan Program into a direct loan program that achieves the kind of savings that the President and the Congress are looking for in this area. It was a tough vote; they were able to get that done.

The Energy and Commerce Committee -- this number is not accurate -- $48 billion is what you have here. That is the Medicare savings. In addition to that, they did spectrum fee savings of about $7 billion, and Medicaid savings on top of that. So the total number in Energy and Commerce was $65 billion. As I said they implemented the spectrum fee. In addition to that, they implemented additional fees for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. And on Medicare, they made specific reductions in the Medicare area limiting payments, for example, for clinical laboratory tests, reducing the scheduled 1994 increase in physician fees and limiting payments for durable medical equipment. Those were some of the changes that were made in that area.

The next committee that acted was the House Foreign Affairs Committee. We've combined the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Judiciary Committee, Merchant Marine and Fisheries and Public Works. They had a combination of about $1 billion and their savings were achieved largely through implementing, in some instances, the same savings with regards to COLA reductions as we saw in other areas. That was true for the Committee on Foreign Affairs. On Judiciary they increased some patent fee surcharges. House Merchant Marine and Fisheries provided and extended some tonnage duty fees.

The Natural Resources Committee, the House Natural Resources Committee had a tremendous load as well, almost $2 billion. And they did it through largely recovering administrative costs for federal mining leasing. They instituted a hard rock mining claim maintenance fee, and they also extended through 1998 the existing requirement that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission recover 100 percent of its cost through user fees.

The House Post Office and Civil Service Committee probably gets one of the big badges of courage here for the savings that they have taken on. They've had $11 billion in savings. It includes, obviously, the reduction of the federal work force by over 150,000 over the next five years. They eliminated cash awards. They eliminated the '94 annual civilian pay adjustment. They delayed COLAs, as I said, for civilian retirees by three months for 1994 through 1996, and they adopted other reforms as well. Some very tough decisions for a committee that, in essence, has to deal with federal employees throughout the government, but it shows that they were willing, in a large deficit reduction package, to have the government step up to the plate when it comes to spending savings.

The House Public Works and Transportation Committee at about $300 million. Generally that was done through increasing the general aviation aircraft registration fees.

House Veterans Committee, another committee that obviously deals with a sensitive constituency, extended five provisions under current law that achieve savings in the veterans area. In addition to that, reduce the annual increase in the G.I. Bill benefits by one percent along with other savings.

And, of course, House Ways and Means Committee had the largest responsibility in the combination of revenues plus expenditure savings. They achieved their Medicare savings of $48 billion largely through a freeze in that area as opposed to some of the specific reductions that were included in Energy and Commerce.

For those of you that haven't followed the process, basically what you'll have is Energy and Commerce has their approach to Medicare savings, Ways and Means has provided their approach. And those will be resolved in the conference when we reach the conference. This is not unusual. We've had that same kind of approach in the past in dealing with reconciliation.

Let me also mention the enforcement provisions that we have included in this package. The enforcement provisions will include the following: We will see discretionary spending controls that will be part of this package. There will be a pay as you go requirement, which basically means any new spending will have to be paid for. We will have a sequester if these targets are not reached. There will be cuts across-the-board. The deficit reduction trust fund will be implemented as well.

And let me just say on that, for those that have suggested that that's just a symbol, the fact is that any savings, whether they're from spending savings or from the tax increases, that are dedicated to deficit reduction, without this change would go to what's called the pay-go score card, which basically means that it could be used for additional spending in the future. That's a reality. And establishing the trust fund assures that that will not go for the potential of being spent in the future, but will go specifically for deficit reduction. It does mean something. It was important to do. And it's a necessary step as part of the enforcement effort.

In addition to that, we have the modified line-item veto, or the enhanced rescission proposal, which will also be added as an enforcement provision under this budget.

Let me just mention also on the history of reconciliation savings, we've had reconciliation bills beginning in 1981, '82, '83, '84, '85, '86, '87, '89, '90. This is the largest deficit reduction in a reconciliation bill in the history of reconciliation savings. Even the 1981, which everybody always refers to the Reagan reconciliation proposal -- we lost money under that proposal, almost $233 billion. Because, at the time, there was a tax bill that lost revenues of about $282 billion. Reconciliation produced savings of only $49 billion in that year, so that we had a net loss of $233 billion under that reconciliation proposal. Here we have achieved, as I said, very close to the $400 billion that -- to the $500 billion that we're seeking in terms of overall deficit reduction.

Let me also mention that there are some important presidential initiatives that are part of this reconciliation as well. Childhood immunizations, family preservation, the earned income tax credit, empowerment zones, direct student lending, the Mickey Leland Food Stamp Hunger Relief Bill, unemployment benefit reforms, and trade adjustment assistance. So there are some important provisions to try to help needy people in this country at the same time.

Let me conclude by saying what the reconciliation schedule looks like. The committees are going to report and have reported their reconciliation proposals. All legislation now is going to the House Budget Committee. The Budget Committee reports a reconciliation bill on May 20th. On May 25th the reconciliation bill will be filed. On May 26th it goes to the Rules Committee and on May 27th it goes to the House floor for passage.

The President's program is essential to keeping our economy going. Our commitment to deficit reduction has already reduced interest rates and effectively pumped billions of dollars into the economy. Every step we take to implement this plan puts us a step closer to our goal of freeing capital for private investment that will lead, hopefully, to more jobs and to higher living standards for working families both today and tomorrow. A critical step has been achieved by these House committees, and we congratulate them in that effort.

SECRETARY BENTSEN: Good morning. Let me make a point to you as to how quickly this has been done. As I was looking at the record, going back an entire decade, we have not seen a budget resolution pass as quickly as this one. And to see the Ways and Means Committee passing reconciliation by May 14th, I can't recall a time that it has been expedited to that degree. And yet I can think about the previous administration that sent us budget after budget that was dead on arrival. Not the case this time. So we've made incredible progress in working toward the passage of the largest deficit cut in history.

For 12 years, here in Washington, we've seen an unwillingness to face up to true deficit cuts and the problem has become just worse and worse, where -- lip service paid to that idea. But nothing but excuses came out when we talked about step up and deliver.

President Clinton has changed all that. This year under his leadership we'll pass the most far-reaching deficit reduction that we have seen thus far. I'm convinced of it because for the first time an administration has stepped forward and made the difficult decisions about what programs to cut. Not sending us the black box like was sent to us before: these are the tough choices; now you make them. And as a result no one made them. Here's an administration that faced up to that with some 200 specifics to be carried out.

For the past few weeks you might not have known that we had a four-year $500 billion deficit reduction plan up at Ways and Means. You'd think all we were going through was a stack of unrelated bills. But the fact is we were building one item at a time a deficit reduction package to change the course of our economy --and that's tough work.

Ways and Means has produced legislation that largely achieves what we asked for in the way of deficit reduction. Does the plan set out what we meant to do? Does it reduce the deficit in a significant way? It certainly does. And if you look at those charts that Leon was showing you, it clearly shows that answer. It is remarkably like what we sent up. If you talk about the overall $496 billion, it is there. They have retained it.

Every Congress makes some changes and this one will be no exception. But I'm very much impressed that they kept their eyes on the target in cutting that deficit. It makes our tax code more progressive. CBO numbers tell us 75 percent of that tax increase will be paid for by families making over $100,000 a year. And that's 6.5 percent of the families in the United States that fall into that category. It's approximately 50 percent in spending cuts and 50 percent in tax increases. And for every $3 in spending cuts, $2 goes to deficit reduction and $1 to investment. It contains a groundbreaking energy tax that encourages conservation and discourages pollution. It promotes investment and economic growth, and it brings the deficit down substantially. And that's what we set out to do.

Let me make a point that I don't think has generally been recognized, and that's the phasing in of the energy tax. We're talking about in 1994 the energy tax for the average family making $40,000 a year, that energy tax goes up $1 monthly -- $1. And when it's fully phased in four years later, we're talking about $17 a month in the cost of the energy tax. And if we can keep these kinds of interest rates and cut it more, we'll pay for it five and six times over for that family in what they're doing in the refinancing of a home mortgage.

Now, let me say this process is far from over. I expect there are going to be changes and more changes. But we're not going to lose sight of the fact that the job is getting that deficit down, and getting it down by something that approaches $496 to $500 billion. We've talked all along about the economic picture just talking about our plan, but those lower interest rates didn't just happen. It's because the bond market -- a very sophisticated customer -- is absolutely convinced with what they have done on interest rates that we're serious about deficit reduction and that we have a good opportunity to put this one through. They expect the program to pass.

Bringing that deficit down is our utmost important economic responsibility and that's what we intend to do. Thank you very much.

MS. TYSON: Just let me finish up by emphasizing the last comment of Secretary Bentsen in drawing your attention to this chart. I mean, I think it's important in discussing the historic nature of this package to really keep in mind at all times the underlying economic logic. And it's really very simple.

The deficit is the major problem or constraint hindering the economy's long-term growth. The government, when it runs a deficit, takes society's savings and investable resources away from the private economy. We want to get more investment in the economy. The right way to do that is to reduce the deficit, which will lower interest rates, increase investment, increase productivity and ultimately increase living standards. It's a very simple logic.

There are only two important wrinkles on the logic that I think I would emphasize to add to what's already been said. First of all, we want to get the deficit down, but we want to do it in a way which is not so cumbersome on the economy as to slow it down. We thought very hard and carefully about the right size of a package. A package big enough to have a significant effect on the deficit over a multiyear period. So we bring the deficit down relative to the size of the economy. We bring it down in half approximately relative to the size of the economy. But we do it gradually because to do it more radically would really slow the economy down.

The second thing I want to say is that we, even already in the package that's been passed so far, we are asking for a shift in the spending priorities of the government. So you saw today that we have already asked and received support on empowerment zones, on trade adjustment assistance, on childhood immunizations. While we are reducing the size of the government in the economy we want to change what the government spends its money on so we can have both more private investment through lower long-term interest rates and also more public investment, more of the government spending money on things we need for the future. And I think that that really is the underlying economic logic. And I really want to congratulate members of the Congress for passing -- for moving on this historic deficit reduction package.

In point of fact, the only way to restore long-term prosperity to the U.S. economy is through a significant deficit reduction effort, coupled with a switch in government spending priorities, and we are now on the road to that path.

Thank you.


Q Secretary Bentsen, the bond market has reacted positively, but business confidence and consumer confidence have gone down rather dramatically in the last couple of months. Many people suggest that's because people are losing confidence in the administration's ability to accomplish its goals in deficit reduction. You've gotten past one committee -- main committee in the House in the Appropriations Committee, but you have a very hard road, don't you, with the Senate? How are you going to succeed in the Senate?

SECRETARY BENTSEN: Well, I think we are going to succeed in the Senate. And I think what you've seen -- the impetus that's come from the House is going to have substantial influence on the Senate. I think that will be very helpful to us.

And as I look at the underlying factors on the economy and I look at the use of some 79.9 percent of our productive capacity as compared to the 85 percent that we had just before the recession, as I look at labor unit costs going up just one and a half percent, I think those things are stabilizing insofar as the concerns about possible inflation. So I'm optimistic as to what's going to happen on interest rates.

And I believe the credibility of accomplishing this is very much fortified by what has happened. What you saw -- it was a long, lingering debate about the stimulus package, and that sort of drew the attention away from the main objective of what we are trying to accomplish in deficit reduction. This fortifies it, and that's a smashing good vote. I'm optimistic over it.

Q Just to follow, do you think the stimulus package was a mistake because it eroded business confidence and the administration's dedication to deficit --

SECRETARY BENTSEN: I think there was a diffusion of the objective as that lingered on. I think this brings us back to the overall main objective of this administration and what it's trying to accomplish.

Q Secretary Bentsen, on the Senate Finance Committee you don't have the huge majority that you have in Democrats --

SECRETARY BENTSEN: I seem to remember that, yes. (Laughter.)

Q Are you going to have to compromise further in order not to lose any of the Democrats?

SECRETARY BENTSEN: I think what you're going to see is a continuation of the objective of the $500 billion approximately in deficit reduction, and that that will be equally balanced between cuts and taxes, and I think we'll fulfill that one.

Will there be changes around the margins? We had changes around the margin in the House, and I'm sure that will happen in the Senate. That will not be anything new.

Let me tell you the other side of that. When you stop and think back, the previous administration -- every budget they sent was dead on arrival. What a dramatic difference we're seeing in this situation.

Q Will the administration now go back and seek funding for the elements of the stimulus package that were stalled in the Senate, particularly the summer jobs program?

SECRETARY BENTSEN: I don't have the detail on that.

Q Mr. Panetta, could you answer that question, please? Will you go back and try to get money for the summer -- for the summer jobs program?

DIRECTOR PANETTA: I think the President is interested in trying to pursue some additional funds for the summer jobs program. That is an interest that he has and I think he'll be forwarding a request to the Congress to do that.

Q For how much?

DIRECTOR PANETTA: I think right now we're looking at probably about a little over $300 million.

Q And how would you pay for it?

DIRECTOR PANETTA: It will be paid for through rescissions.

Q Mr. Panetta, what other elements --

Q What rescissions?


Q What rescissions?

DIRECTOR PANETTA: It would be across-the-board rescissions.

Q This is a question for either of you. What are you doing differently to lobby your former colleagues up on Capitol Hill this time compared to the stimulus package? What have you learned to do differently?

SECRETARY BENTSEN: What are you talking about? Insofar as the expensing or the lobbying?

Q No, no. Trying to persuade -- the power of persuasion and trying to persuade your former colleagues to go along with the reconciliation.

SECRETARY BENTSEN: I must say it went very well thus far in the House. And I'm optimistic for the entire body of the House. We'll be doing the same thing working at it in the Senate. The margins are closer, the task is more difficult, but we'll be meeting with them collectively and individually to sell that point of view of what we're trying to achieve for the country in turning this economy around and cutting this deficit.

Q But how is your message different than the message for the stimulus package, is what I meant?

SECRETARY BENTSEN: Well, I think we're talking about deficit reduction, quite a different objective. And I think that's the main objective of this administration is to get this deficit down and keep these interest rates down.

Q Mr. Secretary, could you respond to the issue the bond market seems to be worried about and that might be stag-flation -- that with higher taxes, more burdens on business, you may get higher inflation while the economy continues to slow.

SECRETARY BENTSEN: Well, frankly, I think this economy is going to continue to grow. I think that we're an example for most of the rest of the world, particularly for Europe, and that we saw a very receptive G-7 meeting when I went to London to meet with them as to what we were doing to try to turn our economy around. We saw a response on the part of the G-7 countries. We saw the Bundesbank cut their interest rate; we saw the French follow it; we were urging that, that that would help us with growth in Europe. We talked at length to the Japanese about stimulus package there. Their first budget was a contractionary one. They came up with a supplemental one that will add to growth, and that is an encouragement to develop domestic consumption in those countries, which will help us in exports and help expand the growth of this country.

Q To follow on that, as far as if you got all of this -- a good movement by your foreign partners to date on interest rates and deficit reduction, what is the challenge then when you go to Tokyo and you ask for the rest of the year and early '93? I mean, are the good measures already over? I mean, what can they do now? I mean, like what -- they came to the table with accomplishments --

SECRETARY BENTSEN: Oh, there is much to be done. And we'll continue to be talking, obviously, about stimulus and trying to increase consumption within Japan. They're the country that is in the best position financially to accomplish that with a surplus in the budget, with just a tiny fraction of the debt owed by the other G-7 countries. And thus far, we've seen the Japanese working toward that end. We're encouraged by it. Now, of course, we'll also be talking about trade and opening up of markets.

Q Mr. Panetta, what other pieces of your stimulus package is the President continuing to push for and by how much?

DIRECTOR PANETTA: Primarily, it is, obviously, the summer jobs piece that I mentioned. He is interested in trying to do something with regards to waste water cleanup and also putting cops out into the communities. Those are really the three priorities that the President is looking at. I think he recognizes that a large jobs bill simply cannot make it because of the problem over in the Senate, but he is -- he remains interested in trying to pursue those more limited investments.

Q How much money for waste water and cops?

DIRECTOR PANETTA: The overall package will be approximately about $900 million.

Q Is this part of the same package, sir, and all paid for with rescissions?

DIRECTOR PANETTA: That's correct.

Q Mr. Panetta, how can you get a meaningful summer jobs program at this late date?

DIRECTOR PANETTA: We're assured by Secretary Reich that if we can get it passed hopefully before Memorial Day that he, in fact, can get those jobs out into these cities.

Q But economists have indicated they're not interested in doing across-the-board rescissions for these programs.

DIRECTOR PANETTA: Well, we think the reality is that it needs to be paid for under -- recognizing the problems over in the Senate.

Q The mechanism is in place to create a summer jobs program by -- if you do it as late as Memorial Day?

DIRECTOR PANETTA: Secretary Reich had made very clear -- we began preparing this obviously when we were doing the initial jobs bill, but, unfortunately, that was delayed but he continues to plan to get those jobs into place.

Q The budget originally called for interest savings of about $16 billion from '94 to '98 by a reduction in the maturity of debts from the Treasury. The Treasury then announced the results of its study and they did not go as far as that $16 billion. CBO now suggests the interest savings will only be a half or a third of what was originally planned for in the budget. Why didn't the Treasury go as far as they originally planned? Was there some thought on the part of OMB? The Treasury debt mix, it did not go as far as the original budget suggested.

SECRETARY BENTSEN: Well, it went very close to it, and we are very pleased with it. And we were delighted with the reaction of the market. It became virtually a nonevent and the market was quite stable in that regard. So it's obviously working and we came very close to the number. Obviously, what we wanted to do was to deal with the underlying economic factors and over the long-term develop the savings, and we have accomplished that.

Q What is your explanation for the recent increase in prices? What's happening?

SECRETARY BENTSEN: For one thing -- let me give you some specifics. Vegetables went up 44 percent.

Q Outside of food and energy, what do you think --

SECRETARY BENTSEN: Let me tell you what it is if I can. A big part of it was what happened to weather and what that did to farm produce and products. That was the biggest change in the whole deal.

Q The price of gold is going up partly because of uncertainties over here and also because of the prospect of possibly of inflation. If any of this program goes through, the major parts, do you think that will curb the increase in the price of gold?

SECRETARY BENTSEN: If I answered that I would influence the market, perhaps, and I had better not.

Q Secretary Bentsen, considering the overwhelming Republican opposition in both chambers to reconciliation, have they for all intents and purposes written themselves out of the reconciliation game?

SECRETARY BENTSEN: I hope not, and I don't think so. I was talking to some the other day. They said we just don't want to go through the gridlock that we ended up with on the stimulus package and hopeful that we can work out some things where we can participate.

Q Secretary Bentsen, when you first came out with the BTU tax you said that the beauty of it was that it was broad-based, that it hits all energy users. Are you worried --

SECRETARY BENTSEN: I don't ever recall describing it as beautiful. (Laughter.)

Q Sorry, my term. Are you worried that the floodgates have been opened now to all kinds of exemptions? You have aluminum producers who got sort of an exemption in Ways and Means and now they want even more of an exemption from Senate Finance. Are you worried that there's going to be further erosion?

SECRETARY BENTSEN: No, I don't think there's going to be any serious erosion. And what we have seen overall is the amount of money being raised is held quite constant as they had made shifts in it. As I recall on the House Ways and Means Committee where it was 25 cents per million cubic feet, they raised it to 26 cents. That's not a material situation. We were quite successful in keeping in there influencing the choice of the utilities on electricity and the fuels they choose to generate that electricity. We held strong on that. The Ways and Means Committee went along with us on that one.

Q What about the decoupling of the highest -- the top income and the top corporate rates that are now going to be 36 -- it would only be 36 and 35? I think you had said it would be good to have them the same.

SECRETARY BENTSEN: Well, I would have preferred that they had stayed constant. But a one percent differential, I don't see that forcing people to incorporate or not to incorporate. I don't think one percent makes up for all of the other considerations that go into the question of whether you want to have corporate liability or not, or the individual liability. Whether you go to subchapter S or whether you go in turn --

Q You did think a two percent differential would have made that kind of difference.

SECRETARY BENTSEN: We sought -- well, I think it would have helped more -- and that's what we supported. But we did some other things, though, insofar as corporations and trying to assist business to be competitive. And what we did with the alternative minimum tax is a very major thing. And that one we took them from three depreciation schedules down to one; we did some $8 billion there in assistance to them; and we shortened the depreciation period to increase the cash flow. We took small business and we moved away from the investment tax credit to a 25 percent expensing credit, which they much apparently preferred, and we went along with that. That's going to help very substantially for small business in developing their cash flow and simplifying their tax returns, because the vast majority of them do not spend over that $25,000 a year. So that'll help there. We took the R&D and we made that permanent. So those are the things we did on that side.

MS. VOLES: Last question.

Q Mr. Panetta, given congressional resistance to using across-the-board rescissions, even for this small $900-million stimulus package, will the administration launch any kind of fullcourt press to get in enacted, or are you basically moving on to the larger of the budget reconciliation?

DIRECTOR PANETTA: Our primary emphasis is going to focus on reconciliation, and we've gotten it through 13 House committees. That is no easy task. As somebody who has been involved in every reconciliation bill, I've got to tell you -- if you look at past reconciliations and what the committees have done, they've always managed to shave the savings somewhat or change them or revise them or move away from the targets. This is the first time I can remember where all 13 committees not only met, but exceeded, in some instances, their targets with some very tough choices. So our primary focus is to get this reconciliation bill enacted in the House, enacted in the Senate, because it is the major element of the President's economic plan for the future.

Q Well, the time has basically passed for the stimulus package.

DIRECTOR PANETTA: Keep going -- we'll keep going.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END11:25 A.M. EDT