THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
The Briefing Room
12:15 P.M. EST
MR. MCCURRY: There's one other announcement. The President will attend the funeral of the late Barbara Jordan on Saturday in Houston. The service is being held at the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church at 10:00 a.m. We're going to take a small pool down, but no press plane is planned at this point. It's a very early morning departure on Saturday with a return, I believe, sometime in late afternoon.
Q Does that translate into a tight pool?
MR. MCCURRY: Whatever. Tight pool, whatever it's called.
Q Mike, can we get year-by-year breakdowns on this latest Clinton budget offer?
MR. MCCURRY: There was a -- you guys got the package. There was one of the charts that I thought we were making available was a year-by-year deficit track which -- what we have is on this chart. We can get you the numbers that they use to plot this chart.
Q But it's only good for 1999. And it would be really helpful if we had --
MR. MCCURRY: We'll get -- if you contact Gene Sperling's office, they put together the chart. So they've got a chart that breaks it out year-by-year, deficit track.
Anything else before we close off? This will be it for today, so we'll try to get an early --
Q Any phone calls planned with the Hill?
MR. MCCURRY: None planned at this point today.
Q Speaker Gingrich was saying yesterday that there might be a budget meeting on Sunday or Monday.
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware of any plans for that, but they, clearly, by their statement yesterday, wanted the President to do what he has done today, to outline a new proposal in public. And the President has done that.
Q This is a new proposal? This is new today?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't believe we've ever publicly put this new proposal out.
Q Whoa. What about to them? This isn't new to them, is it?
MR. MCCURRY: No. But they knew --
Q Well, then what do you mean, "outline a new proposal"? If they already have it, it's obviously not new to them. What are you talking about?
MR. MCCURRY: I think they may have wanted, for their own reasons, to have the President show some movement publicly. And we did publicly what they know we had already done privately.
Q What is the date? What is the date of this proposal?
MR. MCCURRY: January 9th, I guess. That was the day of the last meeting.
Q That's rocks with age, Mike. I mean, they've countered that.
MR. MCCURRY: They have not countered that; that's not true.
Q Mike, has the President talked to anybody about Chechnya? Has he talked with Yeltsin or anyone?
MR. MCCURRY: He's talked to Mr. Lake and he's been in contact with the State Department, which has had fairly high level contact with the Russian Federation on that subject. We're obviously aware that there's a report that the incident at Pervomayskoye has concluded. We don't have any way independently of verifying that. Of course, we hope that the situation has been resolved with a minimum loss of life.
But, again, we believe in the long-term that conclusion to the dispute in Chechnya will come from the types of negotiations that look promising -- dating back to last summer, when there was some agreement on military arrangements and a prospect of an OSCE negotiation that could resolve the ethnic conflict there. We again would urge the parties to commit themselves to a peaceful resolution of this conflict.
Q Mike, the question was has the President talked to Boris Yeltsin?
MR. MCCURRY: I indicated earlier today, no.
Q Mr. Rubin went through the tax stuff kind of fast, and what I was wondering was: Did the President's latest proposal have any capital gains tax cutting in it at all?
MR. MCCURRY: There have been discussions of ways in which you could address the capital gains issue. But the amount that they've dealt with here, the $130 billion in tax cut, could be constructed in different ways.
Q Mike, the impression I got here is that the debt limit may not be approved, the rate. Certain Republican leaders think Congressman Kasich has been saying that that should not be an issue, that they want to protect the credit of the United States. Is there an agreement on that, at least?
MR. MCCURRY: We certainly believe there should be agreement and we were very encouraged by Congressman Kasich's remarks; frankly, a little discouraged that other Republicans seem to want to take away what the House Budget Committee Chairman had committed the Republican leadership to.
We continue to believe that playing with the full faith and credit is no way to run the affairs of a great nation. And it ultimately jeopardizes the position of the United States in the global economy, and that's not something that -- it was, you know, bad enough that they shut down the U.S. government for the American people, but to put the United States in that position in the global marketplace with all of the consequences would truly be abhorrent.
Q We didn't get a chance to ask the Secretary whether he's been told to delay any other of his extraordinary measures to keep the government in the money. Do you know of any that he -- as a result of any talks with the Hill?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he's made clear that he has to protect the United States government from bankruptcy and he will take, according to the counsel that he gets from the legal analysts at the Treasury Department, the steps necessary to protect the United States from bankruptcy. And the best of all circumstances would be for the Congress to proceed along the lines that Congressman Kasich indicated and just not play a game of Russian roulette any longer with the issue of default and bankruptcy.
Q But the timetable of taking those steps has changed since these talks seem to be at a deadlock. So has he been told --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not aware -- you'll have to ask Treasury. I'm not aware that the timetable has changed, but certainly the urgency of doing so is just as clear now as it was.
Q Senator Dole has just said there's going to be a meeting on Sunday. Can you confirm that or at least tell us --
MR. MCCURRY: I cannot confirm that. I'm not --
Q Is the President's schedule open on Sunday?
MR. MCCURRY: The President's schedule, to my knowledge, is open on Sunday, but I'm not aware that there's been anything scheduled. Check and see -- just follow-up here. As we left the Oval Office for the President to come down there hadn't been any subsequent contact to arrange a meeting. But if that's the Senator's planning, that's perhaps a response to the President's willingness to say some things publicly here on his latest proposal, and that would be encouraging.
Q Had the President been given to understand directly by the Republican Congressional leaders that they wanted him to say something publicly about where he'd come, so they're --
MR. MCCURRY: We're trying to read tea leaves and also read the statements that they issued yesterday and then make a judgment about what would be helpful to them. Maybe this will be helpful and get them back to the table.
Okay. Thank you.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 12:21 P.M. EST