Dana Peroxide Says, Suck It, Homeowners
Q Could I ask you about the housing market? Home foreclosures soared to an all-time high in the final quarter of last year, and separately the Federal Reserve said Americans’ percentage of equity in their homes has fallen below 50 percent for the first time since 1945. What’s the White House reaction to this continuing bad news, and do you see it getting worse or getting better?
MS. PERINO: Well, we’re right in the middle of it right now, and so we’re taking action to see how we can help homeowners who are in this situation.
We do not believe that the American taxpayer should be bailing out lenders or borrowers, but what we do believe is that we can help try to bring them together so that they can work on renegotiating these loans where possible, so that people can stay in their communities and in their homes, and that we can mitigate against people, one, losing their shelter, but also really harming neighborhoods, which depend on homeowners for a lot of the services.
Q In addition to those numbers, the delinquency rate for mortgages is also at an all-time high. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve says that more can and should be done. So is there something more that the government can do to alleviate this problem?
MS. PERINO: Well, we are constantly looking at ways that we can help.
Q What about people who are already in trouble? Is there more that the government could do?
MS. PERINO: That’s one of the things that just, I think it was last week or 10 days ago, that Secretary Paulson announced through this private sector initiative, Project Lifeline.
Q Presumably, the Chairman of the Fed understood that when he said that there was — more can and should be done.
MS. PERINO: Well, and I don’t have anything to announce for you today as to what those things might be, but I will tell you that we continue to look at it and try to figure out the best ways that we can help America as a whole — not just lenders, and not just borrowers, but everybody, since we have a shared interest in making sure we can mitigate against this problem.
The Coninuing Helenization Of Dana Peroxide
Q Does the President realize he’s going to further tarnish our image for humanity if he vetoes a ban on torture?
MS. PERINO: That’s not what he’s suggesting, Helen. You’re talking about the Senate — the intelligence authorization bill?
Q Isn’t he supposed to veto the ban this week, or so?
MS. PERINO: Helen — well, he is going to veto a bill, but it’s not the bill in which you describe. The bill that he is going to veto is the intelligence authorization bill. We’ve had a statement of administration position that has been out for a long time. There are many different reasons he’s going to veto it. One of the main ones is that it would apply the Army Field Manual, which is very good guidance for young soldiers who are out on the field who might capture somebody out on the battlefield, but it is not something that should apply to a terrorist interrogation program that is run by the CIA.
Q Why? It’s torture, isn’t it?
MS. PERINO: It isn’t — no, we are not torturing, and that is not what the bill says.
Q Well, it would ban —
MS. PERINO: Torture is already illegal.
Q — he is vetoing a ban on torture, isn’t he?
MS. PERINO: Torture is already illegal in this country, and the President has already signed a bill reiterating that fact. The simple point of this bill is that the Army Field Manual — the President does not believe, nor does the intelligence community — I’d point you to General Hayden and others who say that it should not —
Q The military certainly believes in it.
MS. PERINO: It is appropriate for the military to have the Army Field Manual as its guidelines. But we do not believe that it should apply to the Central Intelligence Agency.
Q Why? Are they human beings? Are we humane people?
MS. PERINO: We are humane people. We have a terrorist interrogation program that helps make sure that we keep this country safe. We do not torture. But what I will tell you is that you will hear more about this this weekend. The President’s radio address will be on this issue.
I’m going to go to David, I’ll come back.
Dana’s Slide Problems
Q Dana, what are the prospects for the Protect America Act, from the White House point of view?
MS. PERINO: Well, what’s interesting is I actually have a slide, I can actually bring up now that you’ve asked. It was almost 21 days ago — (laughter.)
Q First day back. (Laughter.)
MS. PERINO: We’ve been waiting to use this for a couple of days. (Laughter.) If you remember, it was about four weeks ago, everyone in this briefing room was asking why President Bush wouldn’t accept a three-week extension, and everyone thought it would be very reasonable to just give them 21 more days to work. Well, we’re nearing — I think we’re at 20 days today, and they’re not even near —
Q I think that statement was the House Majority Leader, by the way.
MS. PERINO: He is. It is a bad slide.
Q That says Senate.
MS. PERINO: I know, and it’s the House. That’s why it’s bad.
Your Daily Les
Q There has been extensive media coverage of Senator Obama’s statement in Nelsonville, Ohio, on Sunday: “I don’t think same-sex unions should be called marriage, but I think it is a legal right that they should have. If people find that controversial, then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.” And my question: Has the President, as an active Christian, been able to find where in the Sermon on the Mount there is any justification for same-sex unions? And does he consider —
MS. PERINO: Lester, stop —
Q — anything in the Epistles to the Romans to be obscure?
MS. PERINO: I am not going to comment on ’08 politics. I welcome your questions in the briefing room, but I’m not going to comment on ’08 politics, and I’m not going to comment on that.
Q But —
MS. PERINO: Go ahead, David.