THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY DEE DEE MYERS The Briefing Room
2:30 P.M. EST
MS. MYERS: This a very subdued crowd. Did you enjoy the Summit of the Americas briefing?
Q Helen was excellent.
MS. MYERS: Always, excellent. Are you guys all excited about the trip tomorrow. Looking foward to it?
Q It's supposed to snow here on Saturday.
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q When's the meeting with Fidel Castro? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: As soon as we have that, Helen, you'll be the first to know. We'll have Helen be the pool reporter.
I have no announcements, so if there's any questions.
Q Dee Dee, the Japanese Foreign Minister made a protest about the Hiroshima stamp, the mushroom cloud thing; it says atomic bomb in essence ended the war. I'm wondering -- I understand that the White House has taken that up. I'm wondering why they've chosen to take it up with the Postal Service? And who makes the final call, and when will that decision be made?
MS. MYERS: Well, the White House has had some informal contacts with the Postal Service about this issue. They certainly understand the sensitivity of the issue. I think the White House's view is that while we certainly agree with the notion that the atomic bomb helped speed the end of World War II, that perhaps there was a more appropriate way to depict that. But again, we've had informal contacts with the Post Office. They understand the sensitivity of the issue. And I think it's something that they're handling.
Q So they would make the final call with regards to whether the stamp goes through or not.
MS. MYERS: Absolutely, as they do on all stamps,
Q Can I follow up -- the Mayor of Hiroshima also wrote a letter to the Vice President protesting the Enola Gay exhibit at the Smithsonian. I'm wondering why you've chosen to take up this issue and not that issue?
MS. MYERS: Well, again, we've had informal contacts with the Postal Service on the issue of the stamp. They, again, are aware of the sensitivity of the issue. It's something for them to consider. I don't know about the letter on the Enola Gay. I can certainly take that question.
Q Did the White House ask them not to issue that stamp?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q that particular --
MS. MYERS: No, no. We have had, again, had informal contacts. This is something for them to consider, as they do with all stamps. I think they're aware of the White House's view on it.
Q Can you tell us if the White House has any comment on the indictment of Billy Dale, and if you feel that this vindicates -- the investigation that was started here at the White House and the changeover that was made in the White House Travel Office?
MS. MYERS: This is a matter that's before the courts now. And I don't think it would be appropriate for me to comment. I think we made our views very clear back in May of 1993 on this issue. And I think since then the White House has cooperated fully with the ongoing investigation. And, again, it is a matter that is now before the court.
Q Dee Dee, Alan Greenspan said today -- left the door open to more increases in interest rates in the next month or two perhaps. Does the White House see any inflation -- inflation demons out there that Greenspan apparently sees?
MS. MYERS: Well, again I will start with the disclaimer that the Fed is an independent agency and they will make decisions based on their views. The White House view is that the fundamentals in this economy remain strong; economic growth is strong. And I think even Chairman Greenspan was talking about that today, saying that the economy is growing at a very strong pace. I think --
Q That scares him, apparently.
MS. MYERS: Well, I think our view is that the fundamentals are strong. What we have seen and what we continue to see is strong growth, with moderate -- low inflation actually, and very little inflationary pressures in the economy.
Q So you see --
MS. MYERS: We'll continue to watch it. We are sensitive about it. We're concerned about it, as everybody else is. But at this point we don't see any inflationary pressures within the economy. We see continued growth, strong growth, very low inflation.
Q Do you think interest rates should be raised again?
MS. MYERS: Again, that's a decision for the Fed to make. We're not going to comment on it.
Q There's been a lot of talk -- I'd like to get back to this issue of Japanese instabilities. There's been a lot of talk about the VE Day ceremonies, where we and the Europeans would participate next year -- anniversary. What about VJ Day ceremonies next year? Is there any talk, any plan to have any kind of U.S.- Japanese joint commemorative ceremony marking VJ Day next year?
MS. MYERS: I think certainly there will be a lot of commemorations going on. At this point I don't have any specific plans to talk -- to announce, or to discuss with you. I think next year we'll certainly have a number of commemorations of the end of World War II. There's certainly many planned, both in the Pacific and in the Atlantic theatres. I don't have anything for you on our specific plans.
Q But can you tell us whether it would be the intent of the White House to engage the Japanese and to have them join in these commemorative --
MS. MYERS: Again, I don't have any plans for you. I think it's too soon to say how we're going to commemorate the end of the war. I think you can expect that we will certainly do something to commemorate the end of the war, both in the Atlantic and in the Pacific.
Q Dee Dee, what about the DLC speech last night, when the President suggested that some Democrats prefer to be in the peanut gallery, than in the arena battling for change? What -- who was he complaining about?
MS. MYERS: I think what he said was he challenged Democrats not to be in the peanut gallery, but rather to be in the arena. And I think his comment spoke for himself. I think he made a point of saying at the beginning of his remarks last night, that he had sat down before the event and written them out himself. He said what he wanted to say. He felt very strongly about what he had to say. And I think it was a call to all Democrats to participate. And sometimes the job of governing means taking risks, it means risking that people are going to disagree with you; you can't please everybody. But in order to govern, in order to move the country forward, you have to make decisions and act on those decisions. And that's not always easy.
But what he did was challenge Democrats to join him in that process, not to sit on the sidelines and talk about ideas, which he said, also emphasized was very important, but to take it that next step -- to put those ideas into play. And for the Democrats to come together around an agenda, that the President and other Democrats are going to be working on over the course of the next two years, to move the country forward. And I think that that was a very well-received challenge.
Q? So what is his strategy now to gear up, to explain his vision?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think you've seen the beginnings of that. The speech to the League of Cities where he drew the line at legislation or intiatives that would increase the budget deficit. He said absolutely no to repealing the assault weapons ban. Last night I think he began to talk a little bit more about it, calling the Democrats to come together with a common agenda, calling on them not to be in the peanut gallery but rather to be in the arena. And I think over the course of the next weeks leading up to the State of the Union, you can expect him to, you know, talk increasingly about those kinds of things.
Q Dee Dee, how does the President feel about the fact that Republicans want to abolish some caucuses and money for special caucuses?
MS. MYERS: I think those are issues for the Congress to work out among themselves. Those are internal issues.
Q The Senate Banking Committee is going to ask next year for a copy of the -- Clinton's deposition that he gave in June to Fiske. And the independent counsel says that's up to the White House. Is there any objection from the White House to releasing that deposition?
MS. MYERS: I think that's something that you need to talk to David Kendall, who is the President's lawyer, who is handling this issue. The White House won't have any comment on it.
Q Dee Dee, has a trip by the President to Haiti to visit American troops there been ruled out?
MS. MYERS: Nothing is scheduled. And I don't think --I don't think you should look for any trip coming up in next few weeks?
Q Dee Dee, is he going to make a speech next week laying out more of his agenda? Is there anything --
MS. MYERS: I think that's something that's under discussion. I think it's likely. But again, I would steer you away from looking for any sort of one-stop speech that talks about everything. I think what you can look for over the course of the next few weeks, and again, beginning with the League of Cities and again, at the DLC last night, was him to begin to sort of incrementally talk about ideas; to lay out where he wants to take the country next year. And I think he'll do that over the course of the next several weeks.
But I think next week, there's a good chance that he'll give a speech. We don't have a venue yet; I don't have any details for you. I don't even have a day. But that is something that is under discussion here at the White House.
Q Dee Dee, is State of the Union now more likely midJanuary, rather than late January?
MS. MYERS: The date is still something that's under discussion. I think it's unlikely that it will be in early January. But other than that, I don't have anything specific for you.
Q But is there a preference now for mid-January as against late January?
MS. MYERS: It's something we have to work out with Congress. It depends on a lot of factors, and I just don't have a date for you yet.
Q Dee Dee, can you discuss a little bit the signing ceremony for GATT -- who's going to be involved, whether representatives of previous administrations, or what do you have in mind?
MS. MYERS: I think this is -- we're still working on a venue. It's tentatively scheduled for Room 450. I think it will depend on the weather.
MR. LEAVY: No, it's not.
MS. MYERS: It's not?
MR. LEAVY: OAS Building --
MS. MYERS: Oh, it is -- OAS building now? Okay, at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow morning. It is anticipated to be a big event. I think we're inviting everybody who was helpful. I don't have the RSVP list, but certainly the members of Congress, including the leadership from both sides of the aisle will be invited; members of previous administrations who were helpful on passing GATT; and those who certainly attended other White House events. I think you can look for the business community and the leaders in the GATT Now movement that helped pass the GATT. I think we're going to try to invite everybody who was a party to passage of GATT. The President feels that this was a very critical piece of legislation, and was very grateful to people who helped move it along.
And with that, we'll call it a day.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 2:42 P.M. EST #219-12/07