Fun WithOMB Director Jim Nussle.
Q In the big picture, isn’t the President leaving the next President a budget that’s in far worse shape than the one he inherited?
DIRECTOR NUSSLE: Well, if all you read was the budget that he inherited and this budget here today, you probably missed about eight years of pretty important stuff that was going on in the country.
More Fun With Nussle
Q Well, given those ongoing challenges and particularly the economic downturn right now, what do you say to those who say that the projection of a balanced budget is just not credible?
DIRECTOR NUSSLE: Well, budgets are, frankly, one-year documents. We project out five years, but they’re one-year documents and they project what we believe is the path in order to get back to balance — a credible path, not only to get back to balance, but also to deal with some of the long-term challenges.
Still More Fun
Q When you talk about the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, and the bipartisan cooperation which spawned, but what in the world are you thinking when you project that you can get a bipartisan budget agreement in an election year, please?
DIRECTOR NUSSLE: It is challenging, there’s no question about it.
Another Toughie Nussle Can’t Answer
Q Jim, why is that number [Iraq War costs] going up at a time when we expect to be drawing down troops?
DIRECTOR NUSSLE: That’s a — I’ll tell you what, I had the chance to talk to Secretary Gates about that, and we’ve explored that with him.
“A Budget Is About [Bad] Choices”
Q You mentioned some of the challenges that the country has faced that have helped driven up the deficit. Yet some of your most vocal critics, actually, are conservatives on this issue. Shouldn’t the President over the years have done more to make cuts and to demand cuts from Congress in order to help balance those spending increases that occurred?
Q — and also, historically, why has the budget not been cut more to balance off these challenges that you mentioned?
DIRECTOR NUSSLE: Well, a budget is about choices, and choosing between different very high-priority policies, programs. Those are things that you have to do constantly within a budget. And so the President goes through and he decides.
Time To Beat On Dana Peroxide
Q How does the President feel about leaving office with a $9 trillion national debt and a record deficit?
MS. PERINO: Well, I think Director Nussle just answered a lot of those questions.
Q Is he going to justify it by war alone?
MS. PERINO: You heard that the President just announced a budget that Director Nussle just explained, and one of the things that we have decided to do, along with the Democrats on Capitol Hill, is to work together on an economic stimulus package that will temporarily increase the deficit. And that’s a decision that we’ve made in the interest of the country.
And Now, Your Daily Les
Q Thank you. Thank you, Dana, two questions. Virginia’s Congressman Virgil Goode has written the President asking him to order the Justice Department to submit a brief in the Supreme Court case that would support the rights of U.S. citizens under the Second Amendment. My question: Since this Republican Congressman wrote if the Supreme Court were to accept the Solicitor General’s line of argument, he sees a categorical gun ban of virtually all self-defense firearms could well be found to be constitutional — does the President agree or disagree?
MS. PERINO: I’m just going to — since that is a matter of litigation on which the Justice Department has filed a brief, I’ll refer you over to them.
Q Okay. Since the Supreme Court’s willingness to hear the case of Baze versus Rees it appears to have effected a temporary moratorium on death sentences by injection. My question: Does the President believe that the 36 states that have not abolished capital punishment should use gas, gallows, electricity or bullets as an alternative? (Laughter.)
MS. PERINO: I would refer you to the first answer.