Tuesday, September 20, 2005

more scotty goodness 

Long cut from the latest planet-scotty can I get an answer party. Whoo-boy. Anyone care to guess where the cuts will come?

Q Well, what does the President have to say to members of his own party, other conservatives, activists, pundits, who criticize him for wanting to have it all? He wants to have guns and butter, he wants to fund Iraq, he wants to have tax cuts, and now he wants to put together the largest reconstruction effort the world has ever seen.

MR. McCLELLAN: I disagree with the characterization, because the President the other day clearly stated that we've got to make sure that we work with state and local officials to have a well-planned rebuilding effort. This is one of the -- this is going to be one of the largest reconstruction efforts ever.

Q But how can we afford it?

MR. McCLELLAN: And we are going to -- well, first of all --

Q How can we afford it?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- first of all, we are going to meet the needs of the people in the region. The President was adamant about that. We are going to do what it takes. We have an obligation, as a nation, to help the people in the region rebuild their lives and rebuild their communities. We also have an obligation to move forward on -- in a well thought out way with those state and local officials. It will be driven by the local vision, but we're there to support them. And the President made clear that the infrastructure is going to be costly. But the federal government is going to be there to pick up a large portion of those costs.

And that's why it's important that we move forward to make sure that taxpayer money is being spent wisely in the region, and we have --

Q But --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- hang on, hang on -- we have inspector generals' teams in the region that will work to make sure that that happens. And as we move forward to address the needs in the region, we also need to look at our budget and where there's unnecessary spending happening, we need to make cuts. The President has made that very clear.

Q Where? Where?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there are savings that we proposed in our budget, like I said, that Congress has yet to act on. That's a starting point. Other members are talking about various ideas. We are --

Q You're not coming up with any ideas. Congressman Mike Pense suggested delaying the prescription drug implementation to '07, that would save $40 billion, and Josh Bolten wouldn't even entertain it. I mean, isn't part of the problem is that it's kind of a sham to tell the American people that your federal government will do it all, but yet again, we won't ask for any sacrifice --

MR. McCLELLAN: I disagree with your characterization, because this President --

Q Well, where are the cuts?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- from day one has worked to cut non-security discretionary spending. And he's also worked to address other priorities, like entitlements, which drive a lot of costs, as well, and to implement important reforms. We reformed Medicare and put in some cost controls to start that process of addressing some of those issues.

Q You're conveniently not addressing members of the President's own party that say that --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, we're --

Q -- this guy spends like a Democrat, and they're -- that he's trying to create the New Deal again. I mean, what about criticism from your own party, that it's, hey, big spender, when are you -- how are you going to do the math?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, look at our budgets, David. You seem to conveniently ignore the facts. Our budgets have --

Q I looked at the budgets. I'm looking at the deficit. I'm just wondering what you're going to do about it.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- have put forward significant savings on a number of programs. Congress has yet to act on those. We encourage Congress to move forward and act on those. There's tens of billions of dollars of savings in some of those proposals, and that's a good starting point. But we're going to work with Congress to offset the cost by focusing on unnecessary spending.

Now, there are important priorities that we must meet. The number one obligation this President has is the safety and security of the American people. And we are going to meet that priority. We are going to continue to move forward on winning the war on terrorism to prevent something like what happened on September 11th from ever happening again, and we're going to move forward on addressing the needs of the people in the region to make sure that they --

Q And no sacrifice --

MR. McCLELLAN: -- get back up on their feet and that they rebuild their lives and rebuild the communities. But the President made it clear that we also have got to find cuts elsewhere in the budget where that spending is not essential....

Q Scott, we all understand that the President has proposed cuts in his budget -- it's his budget and he has a desire to work with Congress. But the budget pre-dated Katrina. Given that his leadership has come under question because of the hurricane, why does he not articulate a vision for the future, beyond endless deficits? What are the cuts going to be?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, actually, we've talked about this over that last couple of weeks, Ed, maybe you've missed some of those discussions, because we have briefed you all on it. Obviously, you have significant costs that are going to be borne by the federal government in the relief and rebuilding efforts related to Katrina, but we have an obligation to help meet the needs of the people. The private sector and individuals are also showing the generosity of America and providing significant support to the people who have lost all of what they had or much of what they had in the region, as well. And we've -- I'm sorry, what?

Q That's not what I'm asking.....

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