Monday, September 19, 2005

Good Question

One reporter sneaks in a decent quetion:
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.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, but I think it's important for your readers or the people watching this to be able to have a full understanding of the picture. And that's why it's important to talk -- all these are interrelated, Ed. And I think it's important for people to hear these things. But you're asking specifically about spending cuts, right?

Q Yes -- MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we have proposed significant savings in our budget. As I said, that's a good starting point. But the President recognizes that the significant costs that we're going to -- that are going to be borne by the federal government relating to the Katrina rebuilding efforts needs to be offset by additional cuts elsewhere in the budget. And that's why we are working with Congress to identify areas where we can cut. And those areas would be the unnecessary spending. We've got important priorities that we've got to meet, and we will meet those priorities, but we need to look for cuts elsewhere in the budget. The President has always outlined budgets to fund our priorities and then hold the line on spending elsewhere, where they're not the essential or necessary spending that is needed. And that's a process that Congress has an important role to play in, and we've got to work closely with them to do that. But I think everybody recognizes, also, that the costs we're talking about related to Katrina are going to have a short-term impact on the deficit, they're one-time costs. But we believe we can continue to meet the President's commitment to halve the deficit by 2009.

Q Is he dusting off his veto pen?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as you know, the President does not have line-item veto power. That is something that we have advocated and believe he should have, and that's something we continue to urge Congress to act on, as well. But he's also made it -- and Congress has been moving forward on the budget that we outlined to meet some of the overall budget framework that we outlined. But there are additional actions that can be taken on savings that we proposed. That's a good starting point, and then we'll also be looking at other areas we can cut, too. Q Just a quick -- one last question. Does the President, then, agree with Representative DeLay that there's no more fat in the budget?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, actually David asked that question at the beginning, and I talked about how Congress has yet to act on some of the savings that we've proposed, and that we also need to look at other unnecessary spending --

Q The answer is "no."

Did Scotty answer the first question? I don't think so.

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