How ToDestroy The Constitution In Six Months
Q Senator Reid wants the President to support a one-month extension of FISA. Is he okay with that?
MS. PERINO: Well, the Senate has had six months in order to work on this bill.
Q Yes. In theory, what is so odious about keeping the current law in place until all sides can hash out the various differences?
MS. PERINO: Well, look, there’s been six months to hash out the differences. Actually, we’ve been — there’s been a whole year-and-a-half worth of hashing out the differences on this bill.
Dana Says Math Is Hard
Q Can we finish with the budget deficits —
MS. PERINO: The economy? Okay.
Q — since we’re on that? What do you think of this new CBO estimate that shows the slowing economy having a pretty dramatic effect on increasing the debt?
MS. PERINO: Well, I don’t know how they come to their — all of the numbers at CBO. It’s a little bit — math is not my strong suit.
Question Of The day
Q Does it not worry you that the legacy of this administration is going to be hundreds of billions of dollars of extra debt?
Shorter Dana: Lots Of People Say Stuff
Q On the budget outlook, you released figures in December that, even at that time, were viewed as very optimistic about the economy. I think your projection for growth was 2.6 percent for this year. And you have several major investment houses on Wall Street projecting a recession. Maybe the CBO isn’t projecting that, but many people on Wall Street are betting on that. And I’m just wondering if you have any plans to revise those figures, because they’re going to form the basis of your budget outlook, and I wonder if people are going to take them seriously if the underlying growth forecast is —
MS. PERINO: I don’t know of any plans to renew — redo numbers. But I’m sure that CEA Chairman Eddie Lazear is on top of things, as is Secretary Paulson. The budget is going to come out on February 4th. But I would also note that — you’ve said that — there might be many economists who are forecasting a recession; there’s lots of people saying lots of different things about the economy. There’s no shortage of people opining on the issue.
Nice Diplomacy There, Chimpy: Part I
Q Dana, thank you. To follow up on what you said about Gaza yesterday, today the situation seems to be easing a slight bit. But does the U.S. have any —
MS. PERINO: Say that again?
Q That the situation in Gaza is easing a slight bit today; there have only been three rockets strikes —
MS. PERINO: I think I would disagree. Well, it’s true that Israel has helped alleviate some of the blockade problems, but the situation on the border with Egypt and Gaza is quite serious today, and we are very concerned about it. We have been in touch with those parties, including many in the Egyptian government.
Q Does the U.S. have any contact with anyone in Hamas? Is there any pressure, direct pressure the U.S. can put on?
MS. PERINO: As you know, we’ve had a policy of not talking with Hamas.
Nice Diplomacy There, Chimpy: Part II
Q Can I follow on that just for a second? While President Bush was in the Middle East, Secretary Rice told The Jerusalem Post that Egypt has to do more. She said, those tunnels need to be addressed. And she said, we’re prepared to give assistance, but the will to do this is very important. And of course, those tunnels have been a problem for quite some time prior to the President’s trip to the Middle East. Now, today, again, the border crossings becomes an issue that lacks control by the Egyptians. And yet, when President Bush met face-to-face with the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, the President only thanked him for his constructive support of the Middle East peace process. What evidence is there of Egypt’s support for that —
MS. PERINO: Well, that’s not true, James. He did talk to President Mubarak — not in the press availability, you don’t have everything —
Q Not what I saw, what I was able to see.
MS. PERINO: Well, the President did discuss with President Mubarak the need to make sure that Hamas does not have the ability to smuggle in weapons and money into and out of Gaza. And they did have that discussion.
Q And so what evidence is there that the Egyptians have taken it to heart?
MS. PERINO: Well, as I said, the State Department has reached out to the Egyptians. We think this is an urgent situation and we want to restore security. But right now, at this moment, I don’t have an answer for you as to what they responded.
Q According to reporting this morning, President Mubarak personally approved the crossings —
MS. PERINO: I saw that reporting, too, and that’s one of the things we called them about.
Q So obviously he wasn’t listening —
MS. PERINO: I saw the reporting.
We Lied But So Did Others
Q Any reaction to that study out from the Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independence in Journalism, where they did what they called a count of hundreds of false statements made by the President and top administration officials regarding the threat posed by Iraq — and they counted in the two years after 9/11 —
MS. PERINO: I have to think that the study is worth spending any time on — it is so flawed in terms of taking anything into context or including — they only looked at members of the administration, rather than looking at members of Congress or people around the world. Because as you’ll remember, we were part of a broad coalition of countries that deposed a dictator based on a collective understanding of the intelligence.