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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 20, 1993
                            PRESS BRIEFING
                           BY DEE DEE MYERS

The Briefing Room

1:12 P.M. EDT

MS. MYERS: I have no announcements today, other than Tony Lake will make a speech tomorrow, 11:00 a.m. at Johns Hopkins Strategic School for Advanced International Studies. And it will be on the post-Cold War world.

Any questions?

Q Dee Dee, has the administration made any decision on sin taxes?

MS. MYERS: No. The President had another meeting on that last night. He's very close to a final decision, but none has been made.

Q Will you have decisions made on things like that before the speech?

MS. MYERS: It's possible that we'll have the final decision on sin taxes by Wednesday.

Q How can you present a plan without having a plan?

MS. MYERS: I think we have -- as you know, we've done an inordinate amount of work on the financing of this health care system. It's been checked and rechecked by government actuaries, private actuaries, all different agencies of the government, our Health Care Task Force.

Q How come you can't tell us anything about it, then?

MS. MYERS: The President's going to talk in great --or, not great detail, but he's going to talk about the overall plan on Wednesday night, and we're continuing to work on the specifics of financing. I think a great deal of information is out there on financing, including the total amount we expect to raise from some combination of sin taxes. And when the final decision on that is made, we'll let you know.

Q Dee Dee, is this a change from Friday when a senior White House official said that you don't expect a specific breakdown in the amount of cigarette taxes and/or alcohol taxes that won't come out until the first or second week of October when you send up your legislative package?

MS. MYERS: I think in terms of a final specific number that's probably true. I think the President will make a decision on the general composition of the sin taxes, and once that decision is made we'll let you know.

Q But you won't have a per pack increase --

MS. MYERS: No, we may -- I think we'll see. But I think in terms of exactly how much is raised from what may have to wait until the actual legislation is drafted.

Q I'm not quite sure I understand. It's been all this time, nine months, and you're going to have a big speech after all this time, and still you haven't decided some of the key details. Isn't your credibility going to be undermined if you come out with -- how is being paid for?

MS. MYERS: Absolutely not. I think that we have laid out a very specific financing plan, and we have numbers that have been checked and rechecked. It's a solid, credible plan, one that will cover everybody and make health insurance a guarantee, that people will no longer have to worry about the security of their health. That much is clear. And I don't think anybody's questioned, not even Senator Moynihan has questioned those numbers in terms of their -- the credibility of those numbers.

Q You mean, the $4,000 for a family of four and the $2,000 -- is that what you were thinking of, what we know, what we're supposed to know about it?

MS. MYERS: Well, generally, the briefers have gone through basically what they think the limits are on how much families will pay out of pocket expenses per year, how much individuals will pay out of pocket expenses per year, roughly what the total cost of that insurance will be. And, again, 80 percent of the total cost will be paid by employers -- a minimum of 80 percent will be paid by employers. So, yes, those -- I think those numbers have been fairly laid out in a series of very detailed background briefings.

Q Dee Dee, just for clarification, you're saying that the composition of the sin tax then would probably be revealed on Wednesday. Does that mean --

MS. MYERS: No, I don't expect that to be part of the President's speech. There may be a reference to it. I expect the President to have a decision on it soon, probably in the next few days.

Q But would that be on the composition? In other words, would it be cigarettes versus alcohol or are we talking about --

MS. MYERS: Right. Right. I mean, I think -- we've never -- there's hasn't been any dispute about the total that we're talking here. It's about $105 billion. The only thing that hasn't been decided is the exact composition within that figure. And the President will make a final decision about that sometime in the next few days, and we'll let you know.

Q Despite all the support from the doctors here today, a lot of the doctors that we've been talking to around the country just don't think that you can squeeze as much as you think you can out of paperwork. They say that they might be able to lay off a couple of people who do paperwork for them but they really spend a lot of their time seeing patients and they hire people to do paperwork. Most of them don't sit down and spend time doing paperwork themselves. They're worried that you're going to ask them to see so many patients that they will reduce the quality of health care.

MS. MYERS: No, I think one of the things that we've seen right now is the number of administrators being hired is about four times the number of doctors being hired, and the reason is because of this explosion in paperwork. By reducing the amount of paperwork you can reduce the amount of administrators needed to handle it and thereby reduce the cost of the overall system.

I think most of the doctors who have looked at this plan, think that that's a good approach, think that something has to be done to streamline the bureaucracy, and as you know, that is a focus of this plan.

Q But you keep talking about how we're going to be able to see more patients because doctors will be free from paperwork. But the doctors are not doing the paperwork themselves. Where's the --

MS. MYERS: When we went to the hospital on Thursday, they said that cumulatively, that they spent so much time on paperwork that it was enough time to see 500 more patients a year -- that's their estimate, not ours.

Q But that's in a hospital as opposed to in private practice, which is what most people do -- when they go to the doctor, they don't go to the hospital.

MS. MYERS: I don't think that we've said that doctors should see more patients. I think alls we've said is we want to streamline the bureaucracy -- take some of the administrative burden out in the cost. We spend about 10 cents on the dollar more than any other country on paperwork. There's got to be a way to squeeze some of that cost out.

Q Dee Dee, Moynihan said yesterday, that the idea that you could get $238 billion out of Medicare, Medicaid and come up with $91 billion in deficit reduction, it's just not credible.

MS. MYERS: He didn't say it wasn't credible. Because what he did say -- I just want to point out -- what he did say was that the numbers based -- he never questioned our assumptions and he never questioned the numbers.

Now, if you look at the Republican plan, our proposal was roughly $124 billion in Medicare savings. The Republican plan is $100 billion in Medicare savings, and the people who want to see a single-payor system are looking at about $150 billion in Medicare savings. So no matter what plan you look at, everybody agrees that, through reform, you can save money in the Medicare system; and the Medicaid system is the same thing.

It's been a political problem. But one of the things we're doing is putting that money back into the system to provide additional benefits, like long-term care, like prescription drugs. And another thing I think the President pointed out this morning was that we've never suggested bringing the costs down to zero growth, but that bringing it down to inflation plus growth in the system, plus a couple of extra points, which is just to reduce growth in the system.

Q I think you're right; I think Moynihan was referring to the political problem, and he said they had just gone through a hell of a fight on Medicare and Medicaid during the budget process, and to be throwing $238 billion around is just not politically realistic.

MS. MYERS: We never thought this was going to be easy. But I think again I would point out that nobody's ever tried to say they were going to put those savings back into the system to provide additional benefits. Plus, we have very specific line items where we're going to find those savings, and nobody's questioned those. We stand by our numbers. We think they're credible and we think that they've been looked at and relooked at, and it's going to be a tough fight. I mean, I would never argue that; no one would. But we think our numbers are good.

Q Just one more follow-up. Does everyone in the administration agree to those numbers -- Treasury, OMB, the $238 billion?

MS. MYERS: Treasury and OMB are still looking at the final -- there may be some sort of minor changes, but basically we think the numbers we have now are in the ballpark.

Q Moynihan seems to have said that the numbers are real in the sense that when you run them, they come out of the computer that way, but that he seems to say, however, that slowing Medicaid's projected rate of growth by one-half after years of double-digit growth is, "to have lost touch with reality." It doesn't sound like he's really endorsing the overall sense of reality in the projections.

MS. MYERS: Well, again, I think that our numbers are credible. They've been checked and rechecked by both government and private sector analysts and actuaries. We expect this is going to be a tough battle, and it is a political battle. But, again, I would point out that Republicans suggested similar savings in their plan. The single-payer people suggested similar savings in their plan. The Republicans suggested similar savings in their budget proposal this year. And I believe 34 Republican senators voted for that.

So, I mean, I think that there is a specter here where we can get additional savings out of the Medicare, Medicaid systems. And I think our plan is a good start toward getting those.

Q Can I ask you a question on -- a follow-up on Moynihan. This seems like deja vu. Several months back he was complaining about something else -- reported. Did the President or Mrs. Clinton in detail go over with Moynihan what this would entail, and did they feel that they had his support on this -- on the Medicare and Medicaid savings?

MS. MYERS: Well, I think that they've met with him. The First Lady has discussed this with him a couple of times. I don't think he ever offered any ironclad guarantees. He's Chairman of the Finance Committee. They have a big piece of this, and we expect he'll play an important role in it.

Q I also want to follow up on my own question. Are you saying that with 48 hours to go before the speech, the President still hasn't decided, personally, on one of the most controversial elements of the plan -- you know, sin tax? Is that what you're saying?

MS. MYERS: No final decision has been made on that.

Q Why is it -- I just don't understand myself. Maybe I haven't learned enough about this -- but why is it taking so long after nine months, still an essential element of taxes?

MS. MYERS: I think what we've said repeatedly is that there will be sin taxes. A cigarette tax is very likely. The range of that is somewhat under discussion. I don't think there's any secret about what's on the table. The exact composition of it hasn't yet finally been decided, but I don't think there's much question that it will include some form of cigarette tax, and then something else, which will add up to be about $105 billion as part of this package. I don't think that that's -- there's a number of other details the President's making final decisions on. We're 98 percent of the way there with this plan, and things look very good.

Q But, you know, you're acting like he was just sort of all of a sudden say, okay, this is -- I mean, is that how you reach a decision on a tax that's going to affect a lot of people?

MS. MYERS: Well, you think about it carefully, and the President is doing that.

Q It's sort of hard to believe he hasn't made a decision.

MS. MYERS: He's very close and he'll have one soon.

Q It's just that he doesn't want to put it in the speech? He feels it might --

MS. MYERS: No, he's very close to making a final decision on this, and when he does we'll let you know.

Q What's the reason for the continuing deliberation over that issue?

MS. MYERS: There are a number of decisions that have to be made, and this is but one of them.

Q Can you give us some feel for it, so that it doesn't sound like -- that he's just dawdling?

MS. MYERS: A feel for --

Q Give us some sense of what it is that he still has to consider. I mean, this issue has been out there a long time and it seems relatively cut and dried. What are the complexities of it? What kinds of decisions does he have to make in order to reach the final one?

MS. MYERS: No, I only meant that he's making decisions about a number of -- final decisions about a number of elements of the plan. I don't think that there's anything particularly difficult about this decision, I think he'll make one soon.

It's big in that there's -- we're talking about a lot of money. The President has given it a good deal of consideration and I don't think there's any deadline -- he has not made a --

Q Does he this it will be unpalatable? Is that why he hesitates?

MS. MYERS: Again, I think it's pretty clear what the some of the elements of this are going to be. I don't think there's any secret about it. The President will make a final determination soon -- we'll let you know.

Q Is it a question of not being able to say with utter precision how much he wants to raise exactly from each kind of tax? Or is it a decision really about whether to impose a large tax? Or what is the decision that remains?

MS. MYERS: It is a decision of what the combination will look like. I think, again, we've said it will be around $105 billion, it will very likely include a cigarette tax -- we haven't decided on -- the President hasn't decided yet on the specific size of that, and then one of a number of other options; and as soon as he's made a final decision, we'll let you know. I think he's just considering his final options as we get down to the wire here.

Q But you're not saying whether we're going to hear this by --

Q decision?

MS. MYERS: He's close, very close.

Q You don't know today whether we're going to hear this in his speech on Wednesday, or not?

MS. MYERS: No. I think it's likely he'll make a decision in the next few days, and the speech is in -- is several drafts from final.

Q Was that a yes or a no? We're going to hear it in the speech, or not?

Q Doesn't this place the President in a situation in where he goes before the public and the Congress to announce a plan, in which it's fair to say that he can't tell you how he's going to pay for it?

MS. MYERS: I totally disagree with that. He can -- we have -- the financing mechanism has been --

Q Well, if he hasn't made a final decision on how to do it then --

MS. MYERS: But he hasn't laid it out yet, Brit. I mean, we're in the final process here. We've done more work and are light years ahead of anybody else who has looked at this plan in terms of how you pay for it.

Q I'm just asking the practical question on whether it doesn't -- as a matter of literal fact leave the President in a position where it can be truthfully said that he's unveiling this program and laying out the benefits and the change in the system but cannot yet say exactly how he'll pay for it.

MS. MYERS: I think we'll be able to say how he's going to pay for it on Wednesday. And I think that numbers he puts forth will be more credible, more carefully analyzed, more reliable than anybody else ever has come forward with. I think that the members of Congress who have been briefed throughout this process have been very impressed by the amount of work that's been done. The representatives of private groups and health organizations have been very impressed by the amount of work that's been done. These numbers are credible. We'll have final numbers as soon as they're available. But I think the outlines of it are there and for everybody to see.

Q You don't think it would be strange to offer a plan and then a week later tell the cigarette smokers it's a dollar more a pack and, b,

MS. MYERS: Well, I'm not sure --

Q as though the President was afraid to say.

MS. MYERS: No, I don't think -- again, I think that most cigarette smokers and people who don't smoke are well aware of the fact the President is giving serious consideration, is very likely to raise the cigarette tax by a considerable amount. I don't think there's any question about that.

Q I'm still trying to get an answer to the question I asked before. Are we or aren't we going to hear in the speech --

MS. MYERS: The speech isn't done. I don't know whether he'll specifically address that.

Q You just don't know.

Q And whether or not it's in the speech, do you expect that the President will have made the final decisions on the financing of the plan --

MS. MYERS: I think that's -- I think that's likely.

Q by the time he gives the speech?

MS. MYERS: Now, I can't say that -- again, OMB and Treasury are still making some final changes. I think those changes will be relatively minor. But I think the broad outlines of the financing plan are available, and we'll have more soon.

Q If he's expecting to make these decisions by the time he unveils the plan, and if he, say, doesn't lay them out to the American people in his speech, will we be given some kind of briefing or something so that we can lay them out to the American people to --

MS. MYERS: Yes, I think that's -- we've tried to do some briefing already on financing. I think you all have spent quite a bit of time talking with the experts on the specifics of financing, and I think we'll continue to provide as much information as we can about that. So we haven't figured out exactly what the briefing schedule is for Wednesday, but I think that to the degree that we can go through what's in the plan, we'll do that.

Q What is the status on a liquor tax? And is the President meeting directly with lobbyists, other than congressmen and senators?

MS. MYERS: The answer to the first part of your question is, he's making a final decision on the composition of the sin taxes; and no, he's not meeting with lobbyists.

Q What is he doing the rest of today, and what's on the agenda tomorrow to lead into the speech?

MS. MYERS: He's spending most of the rest of today working in meetings on the health care plan and working on the speech. Tomorrow, as you know, at 10:30 a.m. he'll be signing the national service bill, the national service act in the morning. And the rest of the day will be -- he has a lunch and then the rest of the day and Wednesday morning will be spent sort of in the final decision-making and in speech prep for Wednesday.

Q What about Thursday, Dee Dee?

MS. MYERS: Thursday there will be an event at 2:00 p.m. here out on the South Lawn with people who have had some participation in the health care task force process. And then we will go to Tampa. The President has a town hall in Tampa on Wednesday, I mean on Thursday night.

Q Only event Thursday?

MS. MYERS: There's the one here and then there's one in Tampa. And then we'll overnight in Tampa and Friday is still --we'll do some kind of an event in Florida. And exactly what that looks like we don't know yet.

Q Return to Washington --

MS. MYERS: Return to Washington midday Friday.

Q Dee Dee, what time is that Thursday town meeting, do you know?

MS. MYERS: I think it's eight or -- it's 10:00 p.m.? Ten p.m.

Q Dee Dee, could you tell us who exactly is he meeting with now in the meeting today and then Wednesday on health care? Is it with Mrs. Clinton --

MS. MYERS: The speech prep part will be with some of the health care staff and speech writers. Other people are sort of meeting with him on kind of an ad hoc basis. There's no big scheduled meetings.

Q What about Mrs. Clinton?

MS. MYERS: She's here today. Nothing is scheduled, but I think she'll probably -- she'll be at the speech prep very likely and may be in and out through the rest of the day, but nothing is specifically scheduled. The afternoon is just blocked mostly for speech prep.

Q Dee Dee, on the schedule, Sunday trip and Monday U.N.?

MS. MYERS: Still working out departure time for Sunday. We will go up there anytime from sort of morning to early afternoon, depending on if we add an event in the morning, which is possible. And then he has the fundraiser with Mayor Dinkins. There may be another event in the evening. And then Monday will be -- the morning will be dedicated to speech prep and the speech. The afternoon he'll have a series of meetings, and I expect will come back late Monday night.

Q Dee Dee, part of the $105 billion in also supposed to include a corporate surcharge, is it not?

MS. MYERS: That's part of the decision-making process. That's one of the options.

Q The original draft said $105 billion solely from a $1 a pack increase in cigarettes. Is it not then what the administration is weighing right now, a combination of less than a $1 per pack increase plus alcohol possibly, plus surcharge? That's what -- the three aspects that you're weighing right now?

MS. MYERS: Some combination of those things. And that is exactly what he's weighing now.

Q I just wonder from the 20 -- questions here that there's a perception that once again there's indecisiveness that people are going to take away from this if you're still saying he hasn't made up his mind.

MS. MYERS: The President has just -- is in the process -- he's about to unveil the most comprehensive reform introduced in --

Q Exactly why he -- questions to be raised.

MS. MYERS: -- two generations. It's going to reform and revise the way one-seventh of this economy operates. People who have looked at it say it is comprehensive, it is more detailed and more specific than any they've ever seen. And I think you all are focused on one decision, which will be made and presented to you and the American people in a short period of time. I don't think you can call this plan indecisive. This is a bold plan that will fundamentally change the way health services are delivered in this country.

Q Talk slower. (Laughter.)

Q Can I follow up? One of the most difficult questions that the President's had to face during his presidency is how are we going to pay for it, which is not a minor question. And if the American people get the impression that there is a plan -- still hasn't undecided, the question that's most harm --

MS. MYERS: He will tell them how he's going to pay for it. He has already said that $105 billion of this will be paid for by a combination of sin taxes, which you all know what the options are; and within the next few days he will announce exactly what the combination is. There is no way to label this plan indecisive. It is bold --

Q No, it's not the plan, it's him.

Q (inaudible)

MS. MYERS: It is anything but. The President said he was going to reform the way health care is delivered in this country, he is doing that. I think the American people have great interest in that, and the President will present it to them on Wednesday night.

Q Can you go back to the combination -- you said that cigarette taxes are likely. Are the other two -- the surcharge that Paula referred to and the alcohol -- are they likely, too?

MS. MYERS: Some combination. And I just am not prepared to say any more about it today.

Q corporate surcharge in the sin taxes -- (laughter.)

MS. MYERS: We should refer to it as excise taxes. And, as you know, what's being contemplated is a tax on corporations who opt out of the plan. This would be mostly large corporations with more than 5,000 employees.

Q Dee Dee, what's he going to be doing in Tampa --

MS. MYERS: He'll probably just have down time. And then, after the town meeting he'll probably have a meeting at the studio with supporters, which is something that we've done. Sort of a closed meet-and-greet.

Q Has the White House recruited Lee Iacocca to help out on NAFTA?

MS. MYERS: As Mr. Iacocca has made clear, he supports NAFTA. And I think we've had some conversations with him about what he might be able to do, but no final decisions.

Q Do you want him to take on Ross Perot?

MS. MYERS: I think that's up to him, but I think he believes firmly in NAFTA; he thinks it will create jobs; he comes out of an industry that had trouble competing in the world and is doing much better now; and I think he has a lot to offer this debate.

Q Any plans for him to come and meet with the President?

MS. MYERS: Nothing specific.

Q What do you want him to do?

MS. MYERS: I think that's -- we're willing to entertain his thoughts about what he can do. I think he can help; the President thinks he can help. He's got a lot of credibility in the corporate community and I think with the American people.

Q Does the President still plan to attend the Riegle fundraiser?


Q Why --

MS. MYERS: Because he expects to work closely with Senator Riegle on health care and other issues. He disagrees, of course, with Senator Riegle's contention that people who support NAFTA ought not be reelected. The President believes people who support NAFTA should be reelected. But he doesn't agree with every member of the United States Senate on every issue.

Q But how does it help the President to have -- to be campaigning for someone who wants to defeat everybody who is supporting the President?

MS. MYERS: Well, again, the President disagrees with that, there is no question about it. But, I think committed people can agree to disagree about certain issues and still stand shoulder to shoulder on other issues. I think Senator Riegle will be with us on health care, he'll be with us on reinventing government, and a number of other issues the President feels are important. And we'll go from there.

Q Dee Dee, can you tell us a little bit about what the administration's perceptions are right now of what's going on in Bosnia and what kinds of decisions the President is prepared to make in the next few days.

Q Speak up, please.

MS. MYERS: The question was what's the situation in Bosnia. We're watching that with great interest, of course. There have been some encouraging signs, although some of the territorial questions have yet to be worked out. I don't think there's been much change in -- there's been no change in our position, which is that if the parties agree on something and we review it and think it's workable and that the parties have entered into it in good faith, we'll go from there and contemplate helping to enforce it.

Q Does the President have any sense of how he plans to take this up with Congress once it -- since it seems to be on a faster track now and he's talked about getting some form of congressional approval? What kind of congressional approval is he asking for?

MS. MYERS: I think our consultations with Congress are ongoing as the situation unfolds. We're watching it closely. There have been -- again, there have been some encouraging signs, but there still appears to be some distance to go.

Q Dee Dee, is Mrs. Clinton going to be in Tampa with him on Thursday? Is she participating in the town meeting?


Q And the Gores?

What time is the speech Monday?

MS. MYERS: I don't think so, but I'll have to doublecheck that.

Q What about Monday's speech? And what else are you thinking about doing after this week to help sell the health care plan? The Monday U.N. speech and then beyond that what --

MS. MYERS: Right. We're still working on the schedule for next week, but you can expect a combination of health care events, probably something on NAFTA and on reinventing government. I think we'll do it through a series of events, both in the Washington area as we've done over the course of this week, and outside. I mean, I think you can expect a day, a day and a half of travel a week throughout the fall. Brit wants more, but I think we're going to have to keep it limited.

Q This Tampa event, they would both field questions at a town hall kind of --

MS. MYERS: The town hall, I believe, will just be the President, but she will be with him and she'll participate in the Friday event.

Q Dee Dee, seriously on that, is the plate getting a little full? Is you going to be able to handle all these things all at once --

MS. MYERS: The plate is definitely full, but that doesn't mean we can't handle all the things that are on it. This is -- there's no question that it's a tall order that we've -- this is a big agenda, it's a bold agenda, but it's one that the President thinks he can move forward with, and that Congress can do a lot of things at once very effectively and they can handle it.

Q Both Mandela and de Klerk coming this week on top of everything else, does the President plan to see them again?

MS. MYERS: No plans to, no.

Q -- bring their own plates. (Laughter.)

Q Dee Dee, I may have been away when this decision was made, but why the scheduling of this giant blitz on foreign policy at this particular time when --

MS. MYERS: It's the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly, it's a tradition that the President addresses every year.

Q And that's why he decided to, kind of reinvent foreign policy at this point?

MS. MYERS: Yeah. (Laughter.)

Q Just wanted to make sure.

Q anything on the letters the President apparently sent to President Yeltsin and President Shevardnadze of Georgia regarding this fighting that's been going on in Georgia -- the resumption of fighting?

MS. MYERS: Do I have any comment?

Q Do you have any information on the letters? It's been reported by the Russian and Georgian press over there. Can you tell us what the President wrote to them, and why he decided to do it?

MS. MYERS: I'll have to take that. I'm not familiar with the content of the letters.

Q Did he write letters?

MS. MYERS: I'll have to take that. I'm not sure.

Q Dee Dee, will nursing home insurance be a part of the health security act? Is that an element that may be included at the last moment -- senior citizens?

MS. MYERS: I don't have an answer for that one, either. I'll have to take it.

Q Dee Dee, how many meetings does the President have scheduled while he's in New York with foreign leaders?

MS. MYERS: We're still working on that schedule, but quite a few. As soon as we have it we'll let you know.

Q Do you have an estimate how much of the health care reform can be implemented through executive orders and actions like were taken by the Justice Department last week on anti-trust and hospitals? Do you have an estimate because, I mean, with reinventing government you're doing like two-thirds of that through executive orders. How much of this -- new way that you all are --

MS. MYERS: No. The Health Security Act will be implemented through legislation.

Q How much of it?

MS. MYERS: I don't think any of it, and I'll double check this, but I don't think any of it will be implemented through executive order. It will be part of a major congressional, I mean, a major legislative package.

Q the overall reform -- I mean, for example, the anti-trust, you have done through the Justice Department issuing a -- specific policy statement; and what about the standard -- you don't need legislation for a --

MS. MYERS: Well, but I think it will all be included as part of a comprehensive legislative package. I'll check and see if any expectation that part of it may be implemented through executive order or presidential directive.

Q That Justice Department decision on anti-trust was not a new thing. They specifically stated that we're going by the old laws. Just a clarification.

MS. MYERS: I understand that.

Q radio address this weekend, the President mentioned that his plan would include a tax incentive for purchasing long-term insurance for the elderly. Can you elaborate on that at all?

MS. MYERS: No, I can't. I'm happy to put you in touch with somebody who can.

Q Gephardt today or in recent days -- over the weekend? Any talks with Gephardt today --

MS. MYERS: Pardon me?

Q Has the President spoken with Gephardt today or over the weekend on --

MS. MYERS: I don't think that -- I'm not sure that the President has spoken to him directly. Other people have spoken to him consistently about NAFTA.

Q And what have you been told --

MS. MYERS: Well, I think he'll -- he has a speech tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. I think I'll let him speak for himself, but I think regardless, I think that the Majority Leader does not want to do anything to hurt the President. He's certainly entitled to his opinions on NAFTA and other issues, but -- and we'll wait and hear what he has to say.

Q What is Tony Lake speaking on tomorrow, do you know?

MS. MYERS: I'm sorry?

Q Tony Lake -- speech on tomorrow?

MS. MYERS: It's on -- new defense in the post-Cold -- or a new foreign policy in the post-Cold War world.

END 1:42 P.M. EDT