Thank God The President’s Advisors AreAdvising Him
Q Does he have any reaction to Harry Reid’s comment that Harry Reid thinks that the economy is sliding into recession?
MS. PERINO: Well, the President’s advisors are advising him that they are not forecasting a recession. But certainly there’s been a slowdown in the economy.
Q Dana, does the President regret not backing or officially backing an economic stimulus package sooner?
MS. PERINO: Well, the President’s advisors advised him along the way. They get all sorts of incoming economic data. And at the appropriate time, they told the President they thought that was when action needed to be taken, and the President wasted no time in saying, well, then, let’s move forward.
Q The description, Dana — about this economy, is again what from the economic advisors?
MS. PERINO: The economic advisors believe that the fundamentals of the economy are healthy, but that in the short run we were facing a potential downturn.
There’s A Hole In The Bucket
Q Thank you. Dana, how can the President give a great financial boost to help the ailing economy when it’s being held down by $9 billion a month to pay for the Iraq war? How is he going to really bring that together?
MS. PERINO: You know, we’ve been at war, as you know, since September 11th — the day after September 11th, when the President decided we were going to take the fight to the enemy. And during the past several years, both in Afghanistan and Iraq, during all — during those years that we’ve been at war, this economy has been very strong.
The President does not apologize for spending money on national security. Going forward, what the President wants to do in this short-term package is to make sure that we get enough money moving in the economy so that we can avoid the potential risks of a downturn.
Q I’m not saying apologize, but that is a fact, that on your books, if you’re saying — you have a checkbook, you’re writing out your checks for the $9 billion a month — I mean, you still have other things — when you say you want to give incentives to businesses, financially I guess, and tax relief to consumers — how do you balance those books out to get this shot in the arm?
MS. PERINO: I think I would flip it around and say, I think that members of Congress might be able to find some of their pet projects and their earmarks that they could eliminate that could help with this package.
Changing The Manual = Ending Torture
Q Yes. On Saturday, I read in the Post that Canadians have a training manual which lists the United States as a torture nation.
MS. PERINO: Actually, I think that article said that they were — I think that article said that Canada had just changed their manual and had removed the United States from the list.
Q — they said they were not talking about policy, but it’s in the manual.
MS. PERINO: But they had just revised their manual. That’s what that article was about.
Q Because of our pressure?
MS. PERINO: Well, I think — I’m sure we had discussions with them.
Q Well, what does the President think of that?
MS. PERINO: Well, the President thinks that it’s a matter that’s been solved because the Canadians changed their manual.
Dana Is Pro-Choice
Q Dana, the ongoing discussion of the situation in Gaza at the U.N. Security Council today — it looks like there’s a resolution being floated that condemns Israel for collective punishment of the Palestinians who live in Gaza. This morning you said that the Israelis’ blockade was actually a self-defense move. What would you like to see come out of the Security Council today?
MS. PERINO: Well, these Security Council resolutions come up regularly, and I’m not going to comment as to what they may or may not say.
And then the Palestinians and those currently living under Hamas rule in Gaza will see that they have a choice to make: They can either live in a state that’s democratic and secure, that can sustain and defend itself, or they could live in this near chaos that they are living in in Gaza. And that’s the contrast, that’s the decision that they’re going to have to make.
Q What choice do Palestinians living under Hamas rule in Gaza have?
MS. PERINO: Well, I think that they’ll have to decide what they want to support. And President Abbas, who represents all Palestinians, is the one who has said that he supports the peace process, and he is committed, along with Prime Minister Olmert, to try to reach an agreement on what that Palestinian state would look like before the President leaves office.
Q He didn’t seem to represent them all.
MS. PERINO: He was elected by all of them.
Q Not in Gaza.
MS. PERINO: Go ahead, Les.