Press Gaggle by Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton en route Newark, New Jersey
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Newark, New Jersey
1:01 P.M. EDT
MR. BURTON: Before we start, I just want to encourage you guys, once you get Internet access when we’re on the ground, to take a look at a new video on our website -- it was on WebMD this morning. It’s the President showing folks how to use healthcare.gov. So you can find that at whitehouse.gov.
With that, I’m happy to take some questions.
Q Bill, what can you tell us about the BP investigation? Has the focus widened on it? And has the President been briefed?
MR. BURTON: Well, I am not going to comment on an ongoing investigation. As you know, the administration is doing everything it can to look into the cause of the tragedy that took those lives and created one of the biggest natural environmental catastrophes in the history of our country. And we’re looking forward to hearing the results of that investigation.
Q Is there anything you can tell us about the nature of the investigation?
MR. BURTON: Not at this point.
Q Bill, just on the 100th day of the spill, how does the President assess the situation where we are now, and does he have anything to say to the people in the Gulf at this point?
MR. BURTON: Well, if you’ve seen some of the reports out today, we’ve obviously been able to make a lot of progress on cleaning up some of the oil that’s spilled out into the Gulf and stopping the oil from coming out of the well. But the President’s view is that we’re not going to rest until we ensure that we’ve cleaned up all the oil, restored the damage that’s happened to the Gulf, and make sure that the people of that region are whole again.
We’re continuing to work to find any oil that might not be visible from the surface, any effects that might have happened at the sea bottom or anywhere in the area, and we’re going to keep that work up.
Q Two closed fundraisers tonight -- we’re not going to get in to see him? Is he not making remarks?
MR. BURTON: That’s right, no remarks. So one is at a private home; the other one is an event where he won’t be making any formal remarks.
Q Meeting with Senator Kerry today -- did they talk about Lockerbie?
MR. BURTON: I don’t know if that specifically came up. But it was -- they spoke about a wide variety of issues. But I’m not sure if Lockerbie in particular came up.
Q Did the White House ask Senator Kerry to delay the Lockerbie hearings?
MR. BURTON: I don’t know if Lockerbie came up. So I’ll have to get back to you on that.
Q I mean before that, though. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has delayed the hearings. Did the White House reach out and ask them to do that?
MR. BURTON: Oh. Not that I’m aware of.
Q Did they discuss the WikiLeaks documents?
MR. BURTON: I don’t know all the issues that they discussed. So I can’t be more helpful for you.
Q What did they discuss?
Q What was on the agenda?
MR. BURTON: This is one of those meetings where the President likes to touch base with members of Congress. And he came in to have a conversation about a wide variety of issues, both foreign and domestic, so --
Q Could you name some?
MR. BURTON: -- I don’t have any in particular that they discussed.
Q When will the President sign this war supplemental?
MR. BURTON: As soon as possible. If I get more clear guidance on -- when we get it, I will let you know.
Q We’ve got these two events today that are kind of night and day. You’ve got the sub shop, and then we’ve already got so many “Devil Wears Prada” jokes about the fundraiser at Anna Wintour’s house. Is that how you say it? Wintar?
MR. BURTON: Wintour, I think.
Q How do you reconcile the objects of going to these lavish fundraisers when the economy is what it is?
MR. BURTON: Well, as you know, the President is doing everything he can to get this economy moving in the right direction. If you take a look at where we started and where we are now, we’ve obviously been able to make a lot of progress. The President isn’t satisfied.
Since you asked about the event today, I do want to point out something that I read in The New York Times today. It’s a study by two economists, Blinder and Zandi, in which they take a comprehensive look at the American Recovery Act and some of the different things that we’ve done to take on -- to get the economy moving.
In their report, they find that -- these are two separate quotes from the report. First, “While the effectiveness of any individual element certainly can be debated, there is little doubt that in total, the policy response was highly effective.” And then secondly, “When all is said and done, the financial and fiscal policies will have cost taxpayers a substantial sum, but not nearly as much as most had feared and not nearly as much as if policy makers had not acted at all.”
And they say specifically that the nation’s gross domestic product would be about 6.5 percent lower this year, and there would be about 8.5 million fewer jobs.
I’m going to get around to the end of your question, but I do want to point out the reason that we’re going to New Jersey is to talk about some of the things that the President has done on the economy and some of the things that he thinks we need to continue on to create an environment where small businesses can create more jobs. That means increasing lending and making it easier for -- and cutting their taxes.
So obviously we’ve focused on the economy today. This evening, the President is doing what the President traditionally does, which is helping to raise money for the campaign season as things approach. I think that, in the same sense, the President has a wide variety of things that he has on his schedule every single day. Today is one of those days and he’s wearing a couple different hats.
Q The last thing I had was, does he have any canned jokes for “The View” we should know about?
MR. BURTON: Maybe. (Laughter.)
Q It’s embargoed till tomorrow. You can’t give us something we can use today?
MR. BURTON: Wouldn’t that be weird if I was previewing the jokes? Then you’ve got Elizabeth Hasselbeck not laughing because she already knows the punch line. I’m not doing that.
Q Do you expect her and the President to get along anyway?
MR. BURTON: I mean, if you look at their last -- the President’s last appearance in March of 2008, I think they had a pretty good discussion. I suspect that they will again.
Q March 2008?
MR. BURTON: March 2008, yes.
Q The Arizona law goes into effect tomorrow. I’m assuming the administration is watching that, for anything with the judge coming out. Do you have anything on Arizona?
MR. BURTON: I mean, not in particular. I don’t think that changes how ICE functions or how the Department of Homeland Security sees its role there.
Q Thank you.
MR. BURTON: All right, thanks.
1:08 P.M. EDT