THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY
The Briefing Room
1:56 P.M. EST
MR. MCCURRY: Good afternoon, everyone.
Q Is this the 1:00 p.m. briefing?
MR. MCCURRY: I'm sorry, I'm late, but I am obviously late in part because we were letting the State Department go ahead with the announcements concerning presidential certifications related to major narcotic-producing and transit countries. And they're, I think, well into their briefing, probably at the end now on that. Any questions about that?
Q Did the President accept fully the recommendation, did he make any modifications?
MR. MCCURRY: The President had a one-hour meeting today with his national security advisors -- I should say, by the way, that General McCaffrey participated in that meeting. It's his first such meeting after being sworn in as our -- what's the exact title -- Director of Office of National Drug Control Policy -- correct. Also known as Drug Czar.
Q Confirmed, not sworn in.
MR. MCCURRY: Okay, he was confirmed, and I saw on the wire that he's been sworn in.
Q He got sworn in this morning.
Q You can't rely on wires, Mike.
Q You can count on them.
Q Was he, in fact, sworn in, or not?
Q So what happened?
MR. MCCURRY: Was he sworn in, or not? He was -- I think he took the oath and they're going to have an official swearing-in ceremony for him next week.
Now, the Secretary of State by law, under Section 490 of the Foreign Assistance Act, evaluates every year what are the criteria for certifying those countries that have deemed to have been cooperative with U.S. efforts to fight the war on drugs. And the country has to demonstrate that it has either cooperated fully with the United States or taken adequate steps on its own to achieve the full goals and objectives of the 1988 U.N. Drug Convention, or, separately, the President can certify for national security reasons, vital national interests, that the certification can be granted.
Now, the President works through a lot of the recommendations -- there are 31 different countries involved. I'd say that the President with his advisors today spent most of the time on Colombia and Mexico, and there was broad concurrence across the Cabinet that the decisions recommended by Secretary Christopher were the right one -- namely, that we would deny full certification to Colombia and grant full certification in the case of Mexico.
The question the President looked at and asked is -- and this is one required by law -- is the government cooperating with the United States in the war on drugs, or is it part of the problem? And the clearest contrast in looking at the decisions the President had to make came in the decisions related to Mexico and to Colombia. The President's decision to deny full certification to Colombia and grant full certification to Mexico show his own commitment to bring to bear U.S. law against countries like Colombia which are not taking adequate steps to fight drugs, and then to support those governments with strong leaders like President Zedillo in Mexico which are taking courageous measures to fight drugs.
And as the President analyzed the evidence, looked at the argument that had been set forth by Secretary Christopher, as he discussed it with his advisors, the agreement -- the consensus quickly grew that in the case of Colombia, 1995 was a year in which we made no progress; in fact, probably had some setbacks from where we were this time a year ago. In the case of Mexico, given what President Zedillo has done in declaring drug trafficking his nation's number one national security problem, there had been significant progress from this point last year in which Mexico also was granted a full certification.
So given all of that and looking at the evidence in this presentation that came from Secretary Christopher, the President concurred in the recommendations that he made. Those decisions have now been announced and the other countries are being briefed over at the State Department.
Q Can you run through some of the setbacks, as you called them, and also outline the practical consequences of the decision not to certify?
MR. MCCURRY: Okay. Let me do the practical consequences first of when a country under the Foreign Assistance Act is, in effect, decertified. First, that country becomes ineligible for most forms of U.S. assistance. That's bilateral assistance that we would provide. Second, the United States must vote against multilateral development bank loans for those same countries, in the IFIs, the international financial institutions.
In the case of Colombia, since our assistance programs are confined mostly to drug fighting, those are not affected by this. The law specifically allows any drug assistance funding to continue, since the goal obviously is to encourage the war against drugs, but it does affect multilateral lending to Colombia. And according to the figures that I've got, that you may want to suggest, the decision by the President today could potentially affect up to $750 million to $1 billion estimated Ex-Im commitments, approximately $50 million in OPIC lending, and another $540 million in OPIC insurance. So this is a hefty price Colombia will pay for failing to cooperate fully in the war on drugs during the course of 1995.
Now, to answer specifically the first part of your question, Brit, what's some of the problems we saw with respect to Colombia. First, the leadership of the Cali Cartel clearly continues to operate in significant ways from jail to run the drug empire. Senior members of President Samper's government undermine their own stated drug control policies by publicly attacking those people in Columbia who are trying to fight drugs. There are very brave, heroic people in the law enforcement community in Columbia who are representatives who have worked for -- or worked with who have been fighting the war on drugs in Columbia and they have been interfered with and sometimes harassed by members of the Columbian government.
The Columbian government had also pledged to pass legislation that would toughen penalties for drug trafficking, and that did not happen. And the Columbian government also failed to reach a maritime counternarcotics agreement with the United States which we had been expecting to achieve in 1995. And that further added to the evidence that 1995 was not a year in which the President could deem that there had been the kind of cooperation necessary under the statute.
Q Just to follow up, on the multilateral lending we're talking about, is the United States' vote no on a potential loan decisive? Do we have a veto, in effect?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know that we have a veto, but in most cases, given the levels of assistance we provide generally is -- I don't know if they operate by consensus or not, but it tends to be a deciding factor in lending.
Q I might have missed this, but when you're talking about $750 to a billion, does that cover all the potential lending, both multilateral and the kind of thing you're talking about from OPEC, which is a U.S. agency, if I'm not mistaken?
MR. MCCURRY: That's just the Ex-Im commitments that are under consideration.
Q That $750 million to a billion are the Ex-Im.
MR. MCCURRY: Ex-Im Bank.
Q So you don't have a number on what kind of interAmerican development bank loans might be affected?
MR. MCCURRY: No, I don't have a number on those. But I think they're -- at the State Department briefing they're doing a little more on the consequences.
Q To follow on that, are there trade sanctions that can be applied now? Do they lose some preferences?
MR. MCCURRY: There are trade sanctions that could be considered, but the President, as part of the recommendation that came from Secretary Christopher, looked at that issue and said that trade sanctions or further economic sanctions ought to be considered separately from the determinations that are made as part of this process.
Q To follow on -- if I could follow that up, is there an active process to consider that, then -- a separate process?
MR. MCCURRY: Later this year we are going to go through some of the implications of our certification process and look at some of the trade related issues in that context. Now, one thing, obviously, we hope is that there will be changes brought about as a result of these determinations by the President. We think there's a significant inducement now for the government of Columbia to change its attitude with respect to some of these matters and we hope we will see progress based on these determinations. That's the purpose of them, of course.
Q So you're using that as another stick?
MR. MCCURRY: It's available, but the President's advisers did not recommend that they impose any discretionary sanctions at this point, pursuant to the trade act. They confined the actions today to those that are suggested by the Foreign Assistance Act.
Q Mike, you said that most of U.S. assistance to Columbia that would be affected by this is antidrug aid.
MR. MCCURRY: Right.
Q Is there any U.S. assistance that is not -- that has to be cut off?
MR. MCCURRY: Not that I heard of, as I checked on that point. Bilateral assistance, apparently -- given the relative prosperity in Columbia, they don't have the same type of development programs or assistance programs that we do with respect to other countries, so there is not a lot of bilateral assistance affected, I am told. But I believe the State Department is getting into -- in hearing a little bit of their briefing earlier, they were getting into exactly that question.
Q So the main impact is the international bank?
MR. MCCURRY: That's right, the main impact is on the IFIs.
Q Mike, is that a loan guarantee so that as the affect of the $540 million to be able to remove $540 million they would otherwise be able to borrow with the OPIC guarantee?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, that's $540 million in prospective OPIC insurance. I don't know what the lending levels are that attach to that insurance level. You may want to check over at OPIC on that or see if it's come up at the State Department. These questions in great detail are being done over at State right at this very moment.
Q It's a simple way to say, however, that they lost, say, close to $600 million?
MR. MCCURRY: As I said, I would check the State Department transcript, because I'm sure they're getting --
Q Were the allegations that the Cali Cartel provided millions to the election campaign of President Samper a factor in the President's decision?
MR. MCCURRY: Those are law enforcement matters that are within the province of the people of Colombia. Those are not part of the decision-making that affects these determinations. We look at what happens as the country either cooperates or fails to cooperate in the fight on drugs. That's an internal matter for the government of Colombia.
Q Do you have a decision on a visa for Gerry Adams?
MR. MCCURRY: Let me just -- I want to go back a second. We talked a lot about Colombia. Before I get to that, I want to do a little on Mexico -- point out the President's thinking as it related to Mexico. The fact that he has publicly declared that drug trafficking is a primary threat to Mexico's national security and has dedicated a lot of resources to combat that threat was very significant to the President.
I think most of you know President Zedillo has appointed an attorney general from the opposition party who had been very active in law enforcement matters related to the drug trade. Over the past year the government of Mexico eradicated 40 percent more acreage of crops in 1995 than it had in the previous year. They had seized 40 percent more marijuana. Marijuana and opium production is also considered -- they had done a lot of both legislative and administrative work, as well as law enforcement work to toughen up the war against drugs. And on balance, the President felt that Mexico's cooperation and the results achieved were at least equal to, if not better than, what had been achieved in 1994. And Mexico was granted a full certification in 1994.
Now, obviously, the President thinks there's more that can be done in Mexico; in our bilateral contacts with Mexico we've encouraged them to pursue a bill on money laundering and chemical precursors that President Zedillo has submitted to the Mexican Parliament. That clearly would be progress. They can catch more fugitives from justice who should be incarcerated who are on the loose now. They also need to deal with the issue of corruption as it relates to drug trafficking, and there are other steps that we believe they can take. But every indication we've had from the government of Mexico is that they will be willing to purse that cooperative effort and certainly continue to work with U.S. law enforcement officials as we combat drugs.
Q Can you tell us what the national security considerations were for the countries Pakistan, Paraguay, and Lebanon that got waivers?
MR. MCCURRY: I can't. I've got some of that here, but I'd have to go through it at great length to get the whole case. And Assistant Secretary Bob Gelbard is doing that at State, so I'll defer that to him.
Q Mike, how would you compare the drug flows from Colombia and from Mexico? Are similar amounts coming through, or are they drastically different?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, there is a lengthy discussion of that in the document that is being made available at State. I can summarize that by saying we have seen some success in curbing flows out of Colombia; in fact, there's some belief that some of that has been shifted through transit through Mexico. One of the concerns about transit through Mexico is that the Colombian drugs are picking up new routings, coming through Mexico, which is a source of concern to us and something that law enforcement people are working on.
But I really -- over at State they are putting out the documents that have got some very precise figures related to flows, and indeed, that was part of the overall report. There 's a 600-page report that the State Department has issued today; that's what they're briefing on now. And for all that kind of detail I would encourage you go there.
Q Is it status quo with the other countries, a continuation in terms of the other countries in terms of certification -- the past?
MR. MCCURRY: There were two new countries that were added to the list they considered this year, so there were some changes from 1994. But the pattern is roughly similar to some of the decisions from last year.
Q Mike, in making the decision, did the President consider the pressures decertification would put on the Samper government and is he concerned that it could be pressured by the decision?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, it is correct to say that President Samper is under pressure already, but that arises from matters that are internal matters to the people of Colombia related to investigations that are underway there. We certainly considered the actions of the government of Colombia as they relate to cooperating with the United States government in the fight against drugs, because by statute that's what the President examined. But this decision will likely have some impact on the public debate in Colombia, and the President is aware of that.
Mr. Adams -- Mr. Hunt's question. Start with -- to remind you, of course, that on Wednesday a very important historic announcement by Prime Minister Major and Prime Minister Bruton really gave us a very important breakthrough in the Northern Ireland peace process itself. That is that June 10th will now be fixed as the date certain for all-party talks, which has long been, as you know, a principal goal of President Clinton and of our foreign policy efforts as they relate to the Northern Ireland peace process.
There's a lot of work that's going to have to be done, but we are encouraging all parties to participate in those discussions. And we believe that the announcement of that date gives Sinn Fein and the IRA something that they have long looked for, which is a date certain for all-party talks. Given that, the cease-fire needs to be restored now, and we have repeatedly encouraged the parties through our contacts to do that, just that.
To further the peace process, we've decided to grant a visa to Gerry Adams to visit the United States. It will be a multiple entry, three-month visa. The purpose of giving him that visa is to advance the very peace process that we believe now holds out such promise because of the announcement earlier this week by the two Prime Ministers.
Mr. Adams, in coming here to the United States, will certainly hear from Irish Americans particularly at the time of the year when many Irish Americans celebrate their cultural and historic ties to Ireland. He will hear how anxious the American people are to see peace brought to Northern Ireland, and he will, hopefully, see that we share the sentiments that have now been expressed by tens of thousands of people in the streets of Belfast and Dublin who demonstrated their commitment to the peace process. We believe it's important for that reason that he be allowed to have meetings with people in the Irish American community, talk to them.
Q Is he coming here?
MR. MCCURRY: But I don't expect that -- at this time there are no plans for him to be here.
Q Is he going to be able to raise funds?
MR. MCCURRY: He has told us that he will not fund-raise while he is in the United States and he will so indicate on his visa application.
Q Didn't the IRA announce that it won't go along with the cease-fire? Does it really mean that you can bomb people back to peace talks?
MR. MCCURRY: The statement that the IRA has made in response to the announcement earlier this week by Prime Minister Major and Prime Minister Bruton was nuance, but it did not necessarily rule out a cease-fire.
Q Is this a presidential decision on Gerry Adams?
MR. MCCURRY: He was -- it was ultimately the President's decision. It's one in which there was a good deal of discussion involving the National Security Council, the Attorney General, and the State Department as well.
Q Mike, the cause and effect is a little unclear. When Adams was granted the visas before it was after a cease-fire had been declared and was holding and things were moving forward in such a way that it appeared the administration was trying to encourage --
MR. MCCURRY: No, that's not correct. Q I'm sorry, the last time he was here. MR. MCCURRY: The last time he was here. The first time
he was granted a visa there was no cease-fire in place.
Q And now the cease-fire has been abandoned, Adams has refused to condemn the bombing in which people were killed, he's blamed John Major for -- at least in part for the bombing, and the IRA has refused, so far as we know, to restore the cease-fire and has not agreed to participate in the talks. What exactly is accomplished by granting him a visa to the extent that it is a reward under those circumstances?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, to not dispute every single element of your question, which if I had lengthy time I would, I will say that the President would not have taken the step of approving a visa for Mr. Adams if he did not believe, based on our contacts with Mr. Adams, that this would further the peace process. He's getting this visa because the President believes that will advance the peace process.
Q Well, I know, but --
Q Did he get any kind of commitment?
Q -- if I were Gerry Adams, I'd tell the President that, too. Do you have any -- is it possible for you -- I realize it's delicate in some respects, but is there any way you can lay out, other than Gerry Adams says it will be a good thing, some reason why this makes sense?
MR. MCCURRY: You can understand there's going to be extensive negotiations between the parties. And we hope there will be participation by all the parties in the all-party talks on June 10th. That's going to be a formal negotiation of one set or another. And our goal, as always, is to encourage the parties as they negotiate and as they have their discussions, to make progress towards peace.
Now, I could say a lot about Mr. Adams and about the situation that he's in, but it's not likely any of it would further the cause of peace in Northern Ireland. And that's why I'm going to be oblique in saying simply that the President believes that the issuance of a visa limited to the purposes that Mr. Adams intends to come to the United States for, he believes will advance the peace process.
Q Mike, to what extent were the --
Q Mike, was London consulted?
MR. MCCURRY: Both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom are aware of the President's intentions.
Q Are they supportive, or not?
MR. MCCURRY: I'll let them speak for their own governments.
Q You say they're aware. To what extent were the British consulted about this? They weren't, obviously, too happy the first time he received a visa.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I'm not going to attempt to speak for the government of the United Kingdom, but we have had extensive contacts with them and with the Republic of Ireland as we do everything we can to help them further the prospects for peace in the process that they, themselves, launched at Downing Street.
Q Mike, was there ever any conclusion by the administration on what exactly was the extent of Adams' knowledge of the bombing in London?
MR. MCCURRY: We have commented on that publicly, but I'm not aware of any information that changes what we said.
Q Was there a concern that denying the visa would have undermined Adams' credibility?
MR. MCCURRY: I think there were many factors, as you can well imagine, that went into our thinking. And we do everything we can to understand the dynamic that's at play in Northern Ireland as they wrestle with the very difficult issues that they're going to have to surmount if there is to be peace. And we are cognizant of those factors as we make decisions that are related to what we think is best for us to do using our offices to try to further the peace process.
Q Will Mr. Adams be in the White House again?
MR. MCCURRY: No, we're not -- there will be no meetings at the White House or at other government departments until the cease-fire is restored.
Q Where's he going, do we know?
Q Is he limited to going to New York and Boston?
MR. MCCURRY: He is -- I can't read this. It says, "Enough already." (Laughter.) I'm sorry, what was the question?
Q Where is he going?
Q I said is he restricted?
MR. MCCURRY: My understanding is that he's got intentions to visit -- I've heard at least one stop is Scranton. He'll make some other stops that are associated with visits he will make to the Irish American communities in celebration of St. Patrick's Day.
Q New York, Boston?
MR. MCCURRY: As I say again, I don't expect him here. We will be having a St. Patrick's event appropriate for the occasion and appropriate for the circumstances we're in now that the cease-fire has been broken -- on March 15th.
Q Does that mean the Taoseach is coming and somebody from --
MR. MCCURRY: We'll have further information on those who will be here at a later day.
Q Do you expect him to make more than one visit to the United States? You said three-month multiple visit. Or is it one?
MR. MCCURRY: He is only -- I'm only aware of plans in connection with St. Patrick's Day, in a matter of weeks. But he will -- it is a multiple-entry visa.
Q And he's prohibited from fundraising by not putting it on the visa specifically?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, he's indicated to us that he doesn't intend to fund-raise, and he's indicated that on his visa application form. Were he to do so, his visa would be revoked.
Q What about Sinn Fein's raising funds? Will there be any restrictions on that?
MR. MCCURRY: That would depend on individual circumstances of people traveling under visas that have a waiver associated with them, and I'm not aware of any Sinn Fein fundraising that's taking place.
Q There's an office here in Washington.
MR. MCCURRY: Well, I'm not aware of any Sinn Fein fundraising that's taking place now.
Q Why doesn't the President want to see him?
MR. MCCURRY: The President is having an appropriate on St. Patrick's Day, and I think it's safe to say that --
Q They always have an appropriate -- they always have a celebration.
MR. MCCURRY: -- the steps we're taking are the ones that we feel are appropriate.
Q Mike, would IRA violence between now and mid-March change the President's decision? Or do you have some --
MR. MCCURRY: Well, that would be tragic. It would be unwarranted. And in light of the work that the British government and the Irish government are doing now to move towards the all-party talks in June, we hope it would be unimaginable.
Q Mike, do you have assurances, adequate assurances from the Cuban government and from Brothers to the Rescue that there will be no provocation, no incidents, that the flotilla tomorrow will go smoothly?
MR. MCCURRY: We are looking forward to smooth sailing despite the rough seas tomorrow, based on the public statements of Brothers to the Rescue and the government of Cuba, which you're familiar with. At the same time the Coast Guard will be present. They briefed you all on the steps that they will take to make sure that the President's decisions announced yesterday are effective.
Q Could we get back to Ireland for one moment?
MR. MCCURRY: Yes.
Q When does the visa become active?
MR. MCCURRY: He has been, my understanding is that Mr. Adams has been notified of our intention to grant him the visa. So at whatever point he goes either to our Counsel General or the embassy, it would be available.
Q Mike, this morning the Mexican authorities arrested two or three drug -- chiefs of the drug cartels in Tijuana. Did this action took some effect on the decision of President Clinton to give the certification to Mexico?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, of course, we are encouraged by law enforcement steps that lead to the apprehension of those who are suspected of drug trafficking, but that specific event was not considered because it did not fall within the period of evaluation that the Secretary of State examined. But it is consistent with our view that the government of Mexico will continue to cooperate with the government of the United States and continue to take its own strenuous measures domestically to combat drugs.
Q On Cuba, will the administration send a representative to the flotilla ceremony?
MR. MCCURRY: That's not yet determined.
Q Is the President's radio address on this subject tomorrow?
MR. MCCURRY: The planning was to have the President's radio address on this subject, yes.
Q Back to Adams. You said he won't be meeting with anyone at the White House. Had he requested any meetings with anyone at the White House?
MR. MCCURRY: Not that I'm aware of. I think he's -- we've had contact with him. I think he was aware of the circumstances under which he would be issued a visa.
Q Will he be meeting with White House officials outside the White House?
MR. MCCURRY: I wouldn't rule that out, but there are no plans for any official meetings.
Q Mike, you said earlier that there won't be any meetings until the cease-fire is restored. Is that the one thing that you've removed from him now that --
MR. MCCURRY: Say again.
Q You said there won't be any White House meetings with Adams until there's a cease-fire.
MR. MCCURRY: I said there won't be any meetings at the White House or at other departments with Mr. Adams until the cease-fire is reestablished and in force, and so announced by the IRA.
Q That's the one type of punishment, if you could call it that, that you've --
MR. MCCURRY: I'm not calling it punishment.
Q But there could be informal meetings at a restaurant or something like that?
MR. MCCURRY: I wouldn't rule out that he might have some contact with people while he's here, but it won't be of an official nature, a formal meeting such as the ones that Mr. Adams has held here at the White House in the past.
Q Mike, the President's Advisory Board on Intelligence I think is due to present recommendations on reorganizing the intelligence community. Has that been received?
MR. MCCURRY: It has been. The President -- I think probably, that meeting just concluded a short while ago, right? He met today with members of the Commission -- this is the report on the roles and capabilities of the U.S. intelligence community. He received the report and met with the six members of the panel and with Chairman Harold Brown.
The Commission reaffirmed that intelligence capabilities are a critical element of our national strengths, suggested a number of steps to improve the organization and performance of our institutions of intelligence-gathering and analysis. The President believes that intelligence-gathering will continue to play a very critical role in defending U.S. national security interests abroad as we look into the 21st century. We're always going to need to understand the enormous change taking place in this world.
We need to understand the intentions of those governments that are hostile to the United States, and we need to understand in a better sense how all the forces that are shaping the post-Cold War world come together and how they affect strategic U.S. interests and U.S. national interests.
So the President expressed appreciation for the Commission's efforts. He said that we will study very carefully some of the recommendations that they've made. He's in full agreement with their conclusion that the essential importance of intelligence to our national security is to continue to provide a need for information that can be used in sound policy-making and we will be developing a much more detailed response to the Commission's reports at a later date.
The Commissions' report, I understand, is available from -- where do you go to get it? It was posted in the day book yesterday, I am told, but there's a -- we don't have sufficient copies here, but it was being released, I believe --
Q It's over at the New EOB.
MR. MCCURRY: -- at the New EOB.
Q Monday's trip to Michigan.
MR. MCCURRY: I'll come back to that in a minute.
Q I just want to clarify some numbers you used, Mike. You said that the decision would affect between $750 million to $1 billion in loans. Did you mean everybody who was on the list or did you mean specifically a billion in loans to Colombia?
MR. MCCURRY: No, that was just the impact on Colombia, with respect to Colombia.
Q Do you know if the President heard about this call from the Council of Foreign Relations that he should release the cost of America's intelligence-gathering to the American people, take them into his confidence so they know what's being spent in their name?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know whether he has heard about that. I had heard about that myself and I know that Director Deutch has said some things related to more accessibility and openness when it comes to aspects of the intelligence budget. But the President is supportive of those things that the Director indicated in his testimony, I believe, last week on the Hill.
Q Does the President now support Labor Secretary Reich's ideas for corporate tax breaks for those companies that treat their workers better --
MR. MCCURRY: Those ideas have not come to the President in any form that they have been presented for consideration or evaluation in some formal policy sense. The President is aware of what Secretary Reich has been arguing. In fact, he's encouraged him to think creatively and stimulate debate on some of those ideas and they are being debated within the confines of the National Economic Council. But no one has presented to the President any recommendation that we propose specific tax incentives.
The subject generally of how the President can work with the corporate community to encourage better responsibility or more citizenship when it comes to meeting the needs of workers is a subject the President will certainly be addressing Monday in Detroit. You'll hear him talking about this when he's in California at the end of the week.
The President was delighted with the outcome of the media conference yesterday in which he really used the persuasive powers of the presidency to encourage some voluntary steps by the private sector that could lead now to better programming for children. The President believes that's something of a model when it comes to encouraging employers that will help their employees take care of their health care needs, their retirement income security needs and on a lot of those subjects you'll hear the President talk at greater length as he goes through his calendar in coming weeks. They all flow out of the central observation that the President made in the State of the Union address when labor and management worked together to address problems in common in the workplace and we can end up with a stronger economy, more productive workers and more income for American working families.
Q Do you have any reaction to the proposal from the Hill from Gephardt and Daschle and such?
MR. MCCURRY: He's aware of them, he certainly is pleased that both Republicans and Democrats are now bringing new ideas into this debate of how we can improve growth in the economy. But as I said last week as Dr. Tyson has said and as the President himself believes, we've got our own package of measures that we think are right when it comes to rewarding work in helping those who are trying to meet the challenges in the workplace that they face.
Our workplace initiative, our pension reform proposals, the minimum wage increase that the President's proposed, tax credits for education that will help people get skills that will help grow their incomes while we grow the economy -- all of these things the President advocates are along the same lines, and I think the one thing the President is confident of is that we've got a good debate going on now of how best to address the needs of the American working family and how best to bring the private sector together with workers and their labor representatives and others to get the job done.
Q To what extent is Monday political?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know the answer to that. Maybe one of you guys -- I think it's a Clinton-Gore travel day, which makes the whole -- you can't have a percentage. The whole travel day would be political if you're doing a political event.
Q What is the importance of overall considerations in the decision on Mexico?
MR. MCCURRY: I did that at great length already, I think.
Q Next week's Conference on Youth and Violence -- can you give us a little bit on that?
MR. MCCURRY: Do one of you guys want to come up and do next week? Yes, why don't we just do -- we won't do that on camera, unless you need -- you don't need anything on the record?
THE PRESS: Thank you.
MR. MCCURRY: Thank you. We'll see you all on Monday.
END 2:32 P.M. EST