THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS The Briefing Room
11:40 A.M. EDT
MS. MYERS: Just one quick announcement that everyone already knows; the President will be stopping at the NEA Convention in San Francisco on the way to Tokyo. He will speak at 10:45 a.m. on Monday, July 5th.
Q What time does he leave Washington?
MS. MYERS: I don't have the specifics on that. We'll have a schedule, a briefing schedule, hopefully by Monday which will outline the briefings that we'll be able to provide pre-Tokyo.
Q When did you say you'd have that?
Q When does he leave San Francisco?
MS. MYERS: There will be a couple hours to file in San Francisco, and then we'll go from there.
Q When did you say you'd have it?
Q have an advance text?
MS. MYERS: We're going to try real hard. We'll have an advance text. (Laughter.)
Q For whatever that's worth.
MS. MYERS: Right.
Q When did you say the schedule would be available?
MS. MYERS: We're going to try to brief on the logistics either Monday or Tuesday. That will be a backgrounder, but it will at least give you a sense of what we're doing for planning purposes.
Q When will Bentsen and Christopher brief?
MS. MYERS: Latter half of the week.
Q Can I ask a question about the budget situation?
MS. MYERS: Sure.
Q How can the President accommodate these two varying sides of the Democratic Party in order to come up with enough votes to get something that will pass ?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think the two versions, while they have some very obvious differences, are closer together than I think people have given them credit for. Both of the meet the President's principles, including $500 billion in deficit reduction; they're both progressive and they both have a roughly an equal amount of tax increases and spending cuts. The conferees will have to sit down and hammer out the details on the other differences, but I think the President feels good.
We've gotten through -- cleared two very high hurdles in this process so far. The President is asking for big change and he's gotten big change from both Houses. They've shown a lot of courage, the members have, in making these votes.
Q Does not a 49-to-49 vote mean that any concessions you make to the House conferees will result in something that will not pass the Senate?
MS. MYERS: No, not necessarily. I think this is something that can be worked out. It's going to take some work. But I think this process has been difficult all along, and I think that we feel very good about the victory the President enjoyed last night and I think we look forward to passing it through the conference.
Q Beyond the general principles, now that he's moved through the Senate, what are the key elements that he will insist on in conference? Not just the principles, but what specifics is he now going to fight for in the conference from either side?
MS. MYERS: That's something that we're working on now. I'm not ready to announce our conference strategy at this point.
Q Has he accepted the idea of a gas tax?
MS. MYERS: I think there's going to have to be some --I think what we're hearing from -- what the President believes is that there will be some compromise, that the two sides are going to have reach an agreement somewhere between a Btu tax and the transportation fuels tax. We'll have to wait and see how that gets worked out.
Q You're not neutral on this argument.
MS. MYERS: No, we won't be neutral. I'm just saying I'm not prepared to announce our conference strategy yet. This package just passed last night at 3:00 a.m. in the morning. I don't think we're --
Q need a nap.
MS. MYERS: Yes, exactly. And I would point out that we were good enough to let the pool go home at 8:30 p.m.
Q Dee Dee, how does the President feel about the Senate's version on the capital gains version that the Senate approved?
Q The Bumpers and --
MS. MYERS: Well, but the Senate didn't -- that would be that the Senate didn't approve. I think the President had part of that, the expensing provision, in his original package. But I'm not going to comment on all the specifics other than to say that we'll be very involved in the conference process. We think we can reach a compromise that meets the President's principles. And we'll have more to say about it after we've had some time.
Q How could you have a -- I'm just trying to see what kind of a compromise you could have between a gas tax and a Btu tax. And I'm not trying to tie you all down, I just can't see what you could have in between there.
MS. MYERS: No, I mean, it's something that's going to have to be worked out. And I just can't -- the details aren't there yet.
Q I'm really not trying to tie you all down with this, but could have like both? A small amount of both? Or what --
MS. MYERS: I think there are a number of options. And, again, that's something that we'll have to work through with the conferees. We'll have more to say about it later. But I think there's a number of options that are somewhere -- that fall somewhere between a Btu tax and a transportation fuels tax.
Q Understanding that you're not endorsing anything at this point, what would some of those options be? I'm just trying to get some sort of idea of what you would have to go to.
MS. MYERS: I'm just not prepared to discuss that from here.
Q During the evening, I mean, what kind of a head count -- were you shocked that it was a tie?
MS. MYERS: No, we knew it was going to be close.
Q You knew it would be a tie?
MS. MYERS: Well, fortunately, we have the silver bullet in the Vice President. (Laughter.)
Q Is that a wooden bullet? (Laughter.)
Q But, I mean, did you really see that coming?
MS. MYERS: No, no. I think we always expected it would be one or two-vote margin and so I don't think that we were surprised at all. I think that there were a number of people who were prepared -- there were a number of senators who weren't allowed -- who would not be willing to let the package go down.
Q Would the President really -- does he approve of the gas tax going into the highway fund?
THE PRESIDENT: The President approves of the Senate getting through this process so we can go back to conference and work it out. And again, I'm not prepared to discuss the details of the conference strategy.
Q When is he going to buckle down and know what's in the -- you know, in both versions and work out a strategy?
MS. MYERS: Oh, I don't have a specific timetable, but given the he didn't go to bed until after 3:00 a.m. last night, he did stay up for the results of the vote, he hasn't had a lot of time to focus on it.
Q Does he expect to do that before he leaves for Toyko?
MS. MYERS: Oh, I think there will certainly be some work on it next week, absolutely.
Q Did he call anyone at 3:00 a.m. in the morning?
MS. MYERS: You know, I don't know. I'll take that question. I did not get an answer to it.
Q Did he talk to the Vice President after the vote?
MS. MYERS: I just don't know who he -- I think he did, but I want to double-check.
Q Was he in the Oval or --
MS. MYERS: No, he was in the residence. He went back to the residence last night and monitored the -- I think he cabled surfed. (Laughter.) C-Span, a little movie --
Q Did he watch Letterman?
MS. MYERS: I don't know.
Q Dee Dee, was there any insurance from any of these six Democrats who voted against the bill that if the President was going to go down to defeat that they would reverse their vote?
MS. MYERS: I think that there were a number of senators who were not prepared to let the bill go down. But I --
Q In other words, it wasn't as close as the 50-to-49 vote -- it wasn't as close as that would suggest?
MS. MYERS: I think there was -- again, that there some -- a number of senators who weren't willing to see this package defeated -- to see the process blocked --
Q Of the six.
MS. MYERS: Yes, of the six.
Q Which are the six?
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to say.
Q How many of those?
Q So deals were made, actually, weren't they?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think that that's part of the legislative process. Sure, Senator Mitchell was down there working his heart out, as were Senator Moynihan and others.
Q Did you have an ambulance or something ready for Patty Murray? A serious question.
MS. MYERS: I don't know that an ambulance was ready, but we were prepared to do what it took to get the deal done.
Q Would you say that the Senate vote, Dee Dee, was as close or closer or not as close as the House vote?
MS. MYERS: I think they were both very close.
Q As close?
MS. MYERS: Yes, I would say that it was as close. Both of them were won by close margins. It was a tough vote for the members. It took a lot of courage for them to step up to the plate. It's a big change.
Q Why was --
Q Wait, Helen. And do you think the President can be as disengaged from the conference as he was from the Senate?
MS. MYERS: No, I think we've indicated all along that we'll take a more active role in the conference process. This is the final hurdle. I think we indicated throughout this process that what we wanted to see was the process move forward, to get out of the Senate Finance Committee, to get through the Senate process, as long as it preserved the President's principles, which it did, and now sit down with the two sides and try to work out the best possible deal.
Q On that issue, can you outline for us what you mean when you see you're going to take a more active approach? Is the President going to personally negotiate with people? Is he going to go to the country and make a speech about it?
MS. MYERS: I think that we'll do a number of things, including, I think it's very likely that we'll appeal to the country at some point and make sure that they know what's in the package, what the President's objectives are. But, again, I just am not prepared to discuss the specifics of a conference strategy.
Q Could that come next week, prior to the summit?
MS. MYERS: I don't know that we'll ever unveil it in any detail, although I think as this process moves forward it will become clearer.
Q Dee Dee, Secretary Shalala --
Q Is there any impatience at all with Senator Nunn? I mean, is there any feeling that at some point he ought to be supporting his party's President?
MS. MYERS: We'll continue to do what we can to work with Senator Nunn.
Q What will you do?
MS. MYERS: Pardon me?
Q What will you do?
MS. MYERS: The same thing we've doing all along. We'll continue to discuss things with him. Obviously, he's an independent man and he will vote as he sees fit.
Q The President did say this morning that he told some senators that he would fight to get more investment incentives back into the package in conference. Did he make any other such commitments on any other issues, on any other elements?
MS. MYERS: I think that he has said throughout the process that he would want -- he's very committed to things like the earned income tax credit and enterprise zones and the other investments that he -- and perhaps more incentives for small business -- the expensing provision, which we put into the House version of the bill. I think he'll fight for those investments. He's going to do what he can to create the incentives we need to get the economy moving again. But, again, I can't go into the specific details.
Q The President has promised, as I understand, a number of lawmakers' changes in the conference committee. I'm wondering how you feel you'll be able to make these without threatening the support of others, and precisely what changes -- precisely is -- obviously, you're not going to be able to answer generally what changes you might look for to make the better bill the President expects to come up with.
MS. MYERS: Well, again, I think it's clear there were changes in the House, there were changes in the Senate, there will be changes in conference; there's no question about that. As the President pointed out today, there were some elements of the House bill that members of the Senate preferred and some elements of the Senate bill that members of the House preferred. That's what the conference process is going to be about, working out an acceptable compromise.
I think by and large, both Houses want to see this package complete, they want to see a discipline deficit reduction program, they want to see new investments for economic growth, new incentives, they want to see a fairer tax structure. I think that there's a lot of desire to see this deal done. And I think we're going to work real hard to make sure that it gets done.
Q Will the attempt, then, be to be get votes -- get people who did not vote for the measure to vote for the conference compromise, or will the attempt be to perhaps work some more political deals?
MS. MYERS: No, obviously, we're going to get as many votes as we possible can. If we can get Democrats who weren't with us in the House or the Senate, or even Republicans, we welcome it.
Q You see, the reason I ask because presumably any change would threaten support you already have.
MS. MYERS: But it, I think, it may also create opportunities for expanded support. I think that's -- you all know how this process works. You go into conference and two sides sit down and they hammer out a compromise and hopefully we'll get it through both Houses.
Q Exactly where does the gays in the military policy process stand now?
MS. MYERS: The President is still waiting for recommendations from Secretary Aspin.
Q But he's conferred with him already in the past couple of days, hasn't he?
MS. MYERS: They met yesterday afternoon, late afternoon on a number of issues, but that wasn't the definitive meeting.
Q Do you foresee something before we leave for the summit?
MS. MYERS: Unclear.
Q Might they be meeting again today?
MS. MYERS: I don't -- it's not scheduled and I don't expect it.
Q It wasn't scheduled yesterday.
MS. MYERS: It was not scheduled yesterday.
Q Would you let us know if he's coming in?
MS. MYERS: Yes. I don't expect it.
Q What's the hangup at this point? I mean, this thing has been discussed and debated and there's been all kinds of memos.
MS. MYERS: Right. Secretary Aspin has until July 15 under the President's deadline to come back with a draft executive order, and the President's just waiting for a final version. I think it's clear Secretary Aspin is in consultation phase. He's getting close to a final decision on this, but it's just not there yet, and as soon as it's there he'll present it to the President.
Q Has the deadline been extended?
MS. MYERS: I don't think so.
Q Does the President anticipate a lengthy decision process once he has this memo?
MS. MYERS: No, I don't anticipate a lengthy decision process.
Q So you expect that, by the 15th of July, a decision on this from -- that he will have made a decision on this?
MS. MYERS: By the 15th of July we'll have received the Secretary's recommendations. I wouldn't rule out a decision before that, but that wasn't the time line for the President's decision.
Q Do gay and lesbian groups have reason to be concerned that the President will not be in a position to deliver on his campaign promise on this issue?
MS. MYERS: I think that they've made their position clear. What the President has said is he still supports it. He believes that people who should not be barred from service on the basis of status alone and we'll have to wait and see what the process produces.
Q How about Sessions?
Q Is there any special briefing or any way the President is being kept up to date on developments in New York in connection with the arrests for terrorism --
MS. MYERS: Yes, he's being kept up to date through his regular national security briefing and I think periodic other briefings.
Q Are there any special briefings that he's having?
MS. MYERS: I don't believe so.
Q And are there any plans for him to call any of the figures that were involved as possible assassination targets?
MS. MYERS: Nothing scheduled, but I wouldn't rule it out.
Q Dee Dee, Donna Shalala -- Secretary Shalala said this morning that the administration would go with the Senate's Medicare package rather than the House's. Is that something that she has cleared with the President, or is that just her own bargaining position?
MS. MYERS: I think that's her own bargaining position. I don't believe she has had an opportunity to discuss that, and there were changes in the Senate position last night.
Q She's aware of that and she said that that compromise that she would urge be adopted --
MS. MYERS: I just don't believe -- to my knowledge, she hasn't had a chance to discuss that with the President.
Q Dee Dee, when the military first compiled their list of bases they wanted closed, McClellan in California was on that list, and then the President and Aspin stepped in and said no, they didn't want it. The base closing commission today sided with the President and Aspin and voted to keep McClellan open. Is the White House gratified at the vote today by --
MS. MYERS: First of all, I have to take issue with something you said. The President didn't have specific comments about McClellan, although what he did say was he thought the aggregate economic impact of base closings should be considered. And that's particularly true in California. Given the economic situation there, the high unemployment, the number of bases that were potentially slotted for closure, the President just want to make sure, and Secretary Aspin wanted to make sure that the aggregate economic impact was considered.
As you know, the base closing commission is independent. They are voting on a number of things now and they will present their final report to the President July 1st. He'll then have 15 days to either accept the recommendations or reject them and send them back to the commission. So we'll wait to see what they finally produce.
Q What's the White House response to the commission apparently buying your argument about aggregate economic impact?
MS. MYERS: We'll wait to see what the report looks like, and before that we won't have any comment.
Q Can I follow that issue?
Q Another California question, I guess. Bob Hattoy and Roberta Achtenberg are expected to take part in Sunday's gay pride parade in San Francisco. Is their appearance official? It's being portrayed as the White House participating for the first time.
MS. MYERS: No, they're participating as private citizens.
Q Does the White House take any position on this at all?
MS. MYERS: Certainly, members of the administration are free to participate in activities as private individuals.
Q Can I follow back on the base issue? What is the process you folks are going to use here at the White House once you receive the list from the commission? Who is going to do it? How are you going to weigh the political, economic, and national security issues that are at stake?
MS. MYERS: Well, the President is going to consult closely with Secretary Aspin, General Powell and others, take a look at it and make a decision. Again, he can either accept it in complete form or send it back. So it's not a case of accepting or rejecting specific recommendations.
Q Did the President know --
Q him walking through the list base by base with those advisors?
MS. MYERS: I think they'll look at the overall soundness of the plan and make a decision based on that. Again, he can't, under the statute, accept or reject specific proposals.
Q What goal will the National Economic Council play, Dee Dee?
MS. MYERS: I'm sure that their advice will be considered in this process.
Q Is there an informal role for them at this point?
MS. MYERS: I don't think there's been a formal process set up, although once the report is produced there will be, certainly, a number of factors considered and a number of the President's advisors will participate.
Q Did the President know at any time in advance that the FBI was investigating this organization in New York, the terrorist group that was planning these bombings? And did it at all affect his plans to travel to the New York City area or the First Family's plans at all?
MS. MYERS: As I think I said yesterday, he was informed about the FBI's action -- planned actions the day before they occurred. And beyond that, I can't comment on the content of -- I can't comment on the content of what he may or may not have known.
Q Do you expect the President to have a face-to-face meeting with gay rights groups as he did before -- before he made a final decision on gays in the military?
MS. MYERS: We just don't have any plans for that. I wouldn't rule it out, but it's not planned.
Q Have they asked for such a meeting with the President?
MS. MYERS: I don't know that they've formally asked. They've asked for a number of meetings. As you know, they were at the White House last week. They may have put in some kind of a request. I'm not sure.
Q Has he read the letter from -- just following on that, has he read Mixner's letter?
MS. MYERS: I don't know whether he's received it. I'll have to take that.
Q Can I follow up on the base closings? How will he receive the report next week? Will there be a meeting with the commission members? What's the process in that respect?
MS. MYERS: They'll certainly submit a written report. And whether he meets with the members to go through the rationale, I don't know. It's not scheduled yet.
Q But that will come July 1st.
MS. MYERS: It's due Thursday, July 1st, yes.
Q And what about the timber report next week?
MS. MYERS: That's still in process. I don't have a final time line on that.
Q Has he chosen an option on that?
MS. MYERS: No final decisions have been made.
Q On the budget, without getting into what you're finally going to accept on it, does the President still prefer Btu tax to the energy tax that was passed in the Senate?
MS. MYERS: Yes, the President has said all along that he feels that that is the fairest tax. It also -- it promotes conservation and other things. He believes that's the best option. That's why he presented it after a great deal of debate during the process.
Q On the need for more small business incentives, is the White House open to the possibility of possibly changing the current rule for a subchapter S corporation, to tax them?
Q Yes, about that? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: God, I thought I was going to get out without having to take that one. (Laughter.) I just can't comment on that.
Q And New Zealand nuclear --
Q How about Sessions? Do you have a report yet?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q Why not? I mean --
Q Excuse me, though. I mean, really, though. I mean, Dole has raised this as an issue --
MS. MYERS: I'm just not going to -- I'm not prepared to comment on something that specific today.
Q certain members of the --
Q Dee Dee, who's going to take the lead for the administration in the conference?
MS. MYERS: Yet to be determined.
Q On Sessions, Sessions was quoted as saying it's now in the President's hands.
MS. MYERS: That's not the case. We're still waiting for a report from the Attorney General. And I think that she's had a couple of conversations with him about it.
Q You're sure that the --
MS. MYERS: Yes, I'm sure.
Q She's had conversations with whom? With the President?
MS. MYERS: With Judge Sessions.
Q Has she talked to the President about it?
MS. MYERS: No, I don't believe so.
Q Dee Dee, what's the President's understanding about what's happening in Baghdad? And can you go beyond what he said this morning earlier?
MS. MYERS: No, I think he commented on that and said we are -- remain committed to seeing that Iraq obeys all relevant U.N. resolutions, and that the U.N.'s handling it.
Q Does the President support the resolution being considered in the Security Council today to lift the arms embargo on the Bosnian muslims?
MS. MYERS: As you know, the President's preferred policy was to lift the arms embargo and use air strikes in the interim while the Bosnians were rearming. The resolution as currently structured doesn't necessarily reflect that policy. I think we'd be prepared to support a resolution that reflected U.S. policy and the President's preferred options in that regard.
Q Would you vote against -- are you going vote against the resolution?
MS. MYERS: I don't think that the -- I think that they're still debating. They're formally debating that in the Security Council today. So we'll see what comes out of it. I mean, we'd be prepared to support a resolution that reflected the President's position on it.
Q Have you taken an active effort to trying to shape the resolution --
MS. MYERS: Well, certainly Madeleine is there, as she was yesterday during the informal discussions. She's there today.
Q Dee Dee, is there any comment on the swearing-in in Canada this morning of a new Prime Minister Kim Campbell, the first woman Prime Minister that?
MS. MYERS: No, other than the President wishes her well and looks very much forward to meeting her at the G-7.
Q Any letter on its way or anything that you know of?
MS. MYERS: I don't know. I'll have to take that question. I know he hasn't spoken to her yet, but he is looking forward to meeting her. And he'll have a bilateral meeting with her.
Q Is the U.S. government going to declare any Sudanese diplomats persona non grata?
MS. MYERS: I think we're waiting for the results of the investigation at this point before we decide what to do.
Q I didn't understand your answer to an earlier question about whether you're contemplating a presidential speech to the nation next week.
MS. MYERS: I don't think -- not necessarily next week, but at some point during the conference process, I think it is very likely the President will address the nation in some form.
Q And would you be thinking about an address to a Joint Session, or would it more likely to be an Oval Office address?
MS. MYERS: I think a lot of options are still on the table. I don't think we've made a final decision on that yet.
Q But probably after the Asia trip then?
MS. MYERS: Yes, I don't think it would -- the conference process doesn't look it will start before the July recess.
Q Is there a live radio address tomorrow?
Q Dee Dee, on gays in the military, Barney Frank outside indicated that a don't ask, don't tell sort of rule might be an acceptable compromise if enforcement of the military code is applied equally to heterosexuals as well as homosexuals on certain prohibited sexual acts. And he said the rationale for accepting less than an outright ban might be -- I'm trying to word this correctly -- if it's based on a way that is -- the rationale being not political terms, but -- that's practically feasible because society can't accept more at this point.
MS. MYERS: Certainly the President has great respect for Congressman Frank and for his opinion, but we're going to wait until Secretary Aspin makes his recommendations and the President will have a policy announcement after he's had a chance to review it.
Q How does the President feel about the way it's progressing? He was briefed by Aspin yesterday. Aspin is meeting with the Joint Chiefs on it today.
MS. MYERS: I think the President said today he's just not prepared to comment until the process has a chance to move forward.
Q Did he give Aspin any guidance? What you've brought me so far on --
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to comment on the content of that meeting, other than to say that a number of topics were discussed.
Q Has he talked to his half-brother?
MS. MYERS: No. (Laughter.)
Q Alleged half-brother. Who's he sending to the Pat Nixon --
MS. MYERS: Vernon Jordan.
Q What was that question?
MS. MYERS: Vernon Jordan will be attending Mrs. Nixon's funeral on behalf of the President.
MS. MYERS: He's a friend of the Nixon family from years ago and the President asked him to go.
Q He couldn't get anyone else from higher up --
Q the silver bullet. (Laughter.)
Q There's some indication that there's some disagreement among the chiefs about who is more willing to deal with -- than others. Under Goldwater-Nickles, the President has a right to hear from a chief who disagrees with a recommendation that would come to him from the Secretary and Powell. Would the President listen to a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who vigorously disagrees with the policy? Would he meet with him directly?
MS. MYERS: I think certainly the President has met periodically with the Chiefs and regularly with General Powell. I think he's going to take their concerns into consideration, absolutely.
Q But would he hear out the concerns of an independent Chief who does not agree with that policy?
MS. MYERS: I don't know whether he'd schedule a meeting, but I think he's certainly open to hearing their views. I think he's pretty familiar with what they've had to say about it so far. I think he's going to certainly consider very seriously the military's views on this.
Q When do you expect a decision on nuclear testing?
MS. MYERS: Soon. I think --
Q Over the weekend perhaps?
MS. MYERS: I don't have a particular time line on it.
Q Doesn't it have a July 1st deadline?
MS. MYERS: No. July 1st is when the ban expires, but it doesn't necessitate immediate action. I think it'll be soon.
Q And the FBI report on the assassination attempt against President Bush?
MS. MYERS: Again, we hear that it's in its final phases, but it's not complete.
Q Travel office?
MS. MYERS: Radio address is -- it's being pretaped today at 3:30 p.m. I think we'll probably release an embargoed text for 10:06 a.m. tomorrow. So it will not be live.
Q AIDS czar?
MS. MYERS: AIDS czar? No final decisions on that. (Laughter.)
Q Did you say that the FBI report on the Bush assassination thing is expected in the next few days?
MS. MYERS: No, I said I understand it's wrapping up, but we don't have it yet.
Q When do you expect --
MS. MYERS: We're told -- soon.
Q within days?
MS. MYERS: I don't know.
Q Dee Dee, will the findings of that report be the guide for which the President will decide how to respond or will it be depending upon the outcome?
MS. MYERS: No, I think he'll -- I don't think the outcome of the trial is a factor, but I think that will be -- certainly the report will be a serious factor in his decision.
Q Will you let us know who he called both before and after the vote -- taking that question?
MS. MYERS: Yes, I don't know if I'll give you a whole list of all the senators that he talked to yesterday, but I can certainly tell you who he talked to in the middle of the night. Sure. We'll post that later.
Q Schedule for next week. Do you have any information?
MS. MYERS: No, I don't other than there's a Cabinet meeting Monday and a joint congressional leadership meeting Wednesday morning. He'll spend a lot of time preparing for Tokyo. And we haven't figured out the rest of the schedule yet.
Q What about the pre-summit briefing schedule in here?
MS. MYERS: Yes, I said earlier I hope to announce that on Monday. We'll do, probably, logistical briefings early in the week; more substantive briefings later in the week with people, everyone from Secretary Bentsen, Secretary Christopher, people like that.
Q Can we have those on the record for camera and sound, please?
MS. MYERS: We'll take that request. We'll see.
Q Do you expect any travel next week?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q What time will that leadership meeting be on Wednesday, is that 9:30 a.m. or 10:00 a.m.?
MS. MYERS: I don't know yet.
Q That will be bipartisan?
MS. MYERS: Yes, bipartisan.
Q Dee Dee, now that the President has budget reconciliation bills through the House and the Senate, should the tracking of the Clinton economic recovery begin now?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think that we're already happy to take credit for -- (laughter). I think you have -- I mean, certainly the seriousness of the proposals has had an impact on things like interest rates; and I think there's been some job growth -- 755,000 new jobs. But I'm not sure it's -- we're happy to point out those changes in the economic situation, but the plan is not finally passed, and I think it's important see the final form before I think businesses can react and sort of respond to it.
Q May I follow this question? I understood the rationale for why you -- the administration claimed that interest rates had gone down after the President's proposal. But since George Stephanopoulos went from saying it was a jobless recovery to taking credit for the jobs that were created in about 48 hours, I would like someone to explain to me the mechanism by which these proposals created jobs in your minds?
MS. MYERS: Well, lower interest rates puts literally millions, perhaps -- I think the estimate is that a one point reduction in the long-term interest rates has put $10 billion back into the economy. That makes capital available for all kinds of business creation and other things. Also, we've seen interest rates at their lowest point in 20 years. There's a seven-year high in new home sales. That has created about 140,000 jobs just in the construction industry in the last four months. So I think the connection is indisputable between commitment to deficit reduction, lower interest rates and job creation. That's not to say that we're out of the woods. I think the President is not satisfied with the economic performance. He doesn't believe the economy is working for everybody, but he thinks we're at least starting to move in the right direction.
Q That all in one breath.
MS. MYERS: All in one breath. Thank you.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 12:10 P.M. EDT