This, my friends, is a banner day in gaggle-obsessive history. For this is the day that Little Scottie criticized the President’s response to Hurricane Katrina.
Q Well, Scott, continuing with what Steve said, how is what you’re doing for Rita different from what you did from Katrina?
MR. McCLELLAN: Sure. A couple of things — one, the President is focused on making sure we have the strongest possible coordination with state and local governments in the path of Hurricane Rita. We hope Rita is not devastating, but we must be prepared for the worst. Coordination at all levels needs to be seamless, or as seamless as possible, and that’s what we’re working to do.
Q Well, can you distinguish what you’re doing differently?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I just talked to you about where the President’s focus is and what we are doing. We want to make sure that we’re —
Q And these are things you didn’t do in Katrina?
MR. McCLELLAN: We want to make sure that we are better prepared and better positioned to respond to Hurricane Rita and that’s what we’re doing. That’s why I outlined the several steps that we are taking. And that’s why I just told you that the President is focused on making sure that we have the strongest possible coordination with state and local officials, and that we have —
Q Which you didn’t have before, right?
MR. McCLELLAN: — as seamless as possible coordination with state and local officials.
Q In other words, better than the last time?
MR. McCLELLAN: I think I just answered that question, Bill.
Q No, not really.
MR. McCLELLAN: I just said — I just said the very words that you’re bringing up.
Q I mean, is it fair to conclude that a big part of this is simply presidential attention — the amount of time that the President is dedicating to dealing with this, pre-Katrina?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I talked to you about — I talked to you about the amount of time — I talked to you ahead of Katrina about the amount of time that he was dedicating to that, as well. It was something we were taking very seriously, as well.
Q Scott, can I ask you about the President’s sort of internal communications with aides with respect to Rita? Is the President asking more, sort of, pointed questions? Is he being more aggressive in his questioning of aides and officials?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, he’s asking a lot of pointed questions. He’s been asking a lot of pointed questions in previous hurricanes, as well.
And now, your Daily Les.
Q Scott, a two-part. First, do you recall when the last time the President vetoed any bill?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Les, on a couple of — let me mention a couple of things: One, as I pointed out at the beginning of this briefing, the President has worked to significantly slow the growth in non-security discretionary spending. And he’s proposed significant savings elsewhere in the budget, as well. And Congress has been working to meet the general budget outline that the President has put forward in recent years. And we appreciate those efforts.
Now, the President doesn’t have a line-item veto power. That is something that the President believes he should have, so he has to work with Congress on these priorities and these spending issues.
Secondly, if you look at some issues — let’s take the highway bill for instance, the President made it very clear that he would not sign a bill that substantially increased our deficit. We worked with members of Congress, and the amount of money that was allocated in that legislation came down significantly from where it was.