THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT DURING LUNCH WITH CEOs Old Family Dining Room
12:40 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: I'd just like to make one comment to reinforce the importance of passing this economic plan. We've got interest rates now down to a 20-year low and home mortgage rates. And this new headline: "Inflation Slows, Rates Holding." That's the direction we want. We want a steady recovery. And we have got to pass this economic plan and do it in the near future to ensure that that goes on.
Let me just mention one statistic. In the first four months of this administration, we had 130,000 new construction jobs in this country because of low interest rates. That is the largest increase in nine years in a four-month period. We can bring this economy back if we pass the plan, get the deficit down, keep the interest rates down, and keep the investment flowing to create jobs in the country.
And I think it is terribly important. And I just wanted to emphasize that to impress upon the country the importance of what the United States Senate is grappling with now. They simply have to pass this plan and go forward.
Q Do you think that there will be a deal? And will it have a significant enough --
THE PRESIDENT: I'm encouraged.
Q energy tax to make it worthwhile?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it depends on what the -- let's look at the final plan. I think -- you know, the Senate is going to change the energy tax, but if they have enough deficit reduction and they go to the conference committee, I think that they will come out ultimately with a bill that I'll feel good about.
Q Mr. President, on another subject, were you influenced by the letter-writing campaign on behalf of Judge Ginsburg? Did that help persuade you to take another look at her?
THE PRESIDENT: No.
Q Did you read any of the letters?
THE PRESIDENT: I read some of the letters that came in on behalf of many candidates. But I was unaware of any big letterwriting campaign. I saw seven or eight letters for her.
Q influence your decision at all?
THE PRESIDENT: No, only that a lot of people thought a lot of her. There were also good letters for I would say 10 candidates that I read. I read a lot of letters that came in --
Q The Marines that are now heading --
Q campaign financing -- the vote on the Hill?
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me?
Q On the campaign financing, have you heard anymore about a possible compromise?
THE PRESIDENT: Just what you have -- that they're working on it, and that they may adopt one which we would find acceptable. But I want to see what they do --
Q been in communication with --
THE PRESIDENT: A little bit. We know they're trying to work it out. And I'm encouraged. What I said in response, I think, to Andrea's question this morning, is that I think those five Republican senators who voted for campaign finance reform last year must surely want to do it again. They know that special interests, financing, and excessive spending have really undermined the public's faith in the political process. So I think we've got a chance to get one.
Q Mr. President, 2,200 Marines en route to the Somali coast. Can you shed any light on that?
Q Thank you.
Q Enjoy your lunch.
THE PRESIDENT: Lunchtime.
Q We don't get any.
THE PRESIDENT: You know I don't believe that. (Laughter.)
Q This is true.
END12:45 P.M. EDT