The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• Barack Obama
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs
March 11, 2009
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:17 P.M. EDT

MR. GIBBS: All right, ready and away we go.

Q: A couple questions about the earmarks comments and spending bill. The rhetoric that he used on earmarks was remarkably gentle. He wasn't particularly critical of them. He went out of his way to compliment members of Congress in their ability to judge what is good and what is not good for their district. And he also didn't say anything specific to support, for instance, mandatory recision authority -- when he doesn't like a list of things in a bill, to send it to Congress and have them be forced to vote on it, as opposed to that being optional. Can you talk about those two things?

MR. GIBBS: Well, let's talk about it. I mean, I think the President's record on earmark reform throughout his tenure in Washington, no pun intended, has been quite clear. He's called for greater transparency, that names be attached to earmarks, but has also said that this is a process that can and reasonably should be reformed. I think that's exactly what the President talked about today.

I think it's also -- objectively looking at the process, we have seen a decrease in the number of earmarks over the past several years. That's part of good progress. But as the President said today, it was time to take change one step further. He talked about increasing the transparency that's involved, having -- half the reason -- part of the reason we get into these problems is we have what you had today -- was an appropriations bill that, first of all, should have been completed by September 30, 2008. It's now March 11, 2009. It's also a piece of legislation that contains nine of the 13 appropriations bills all lumped into one.

The President spoke today that Congress instead should have bills go through a regular process, be considered one by one. Going through that regular order, increasing that transparency will increase the scrutiny on individual earmarks. That will necessarily cut down the number that are seen in pieces of legislation.

And I think the President was clear that if there are earmarks that get through the process that he thinks are unnecessary, he will work on a vehicle to remove those from our spending priorities.

Q: -- now is that he can request they be removed, and it goes to Congress and they can just shove it in a drawer. Another way to do that is for him to -- the President to have the authority for that list to have to come up for a vote --

MR. GIBBS: To be considered under a certain time frame.

Q: So why wouldn't he come out and endorse that today?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think that's -- I think if you look closely at his remarks, he looks forward to working through a process that allows that to happen. And I think that the budget --

Q: I didn't hear him say --

MR. GIBBS: Well, I don't have the remarks in front of me, but I think he was pretty explicit, that if the process -- if something got through the process you could at that point consider a separate piece of legislation to do that. Obviously -- you mentioned this -- it's one thing to stand up and pound your fist -- and certainly the President has done that -- about a process that he believes is out of control. But now we have to work with Congress to institute reforms that can work, because as you mentioned, it doesn't do anybody any good to send up a recisions package that becomes a piece of paper in somebody's file drawer. That's why --

Q: So he wants to have --

MR. GIBBS: Well, he would like to work with Congress to figure out a process to make something like that possible. That's why the Director of OMB mentioned yesterday, in testifying to Congress, that if -- that his department is looking through the spending bill, will make a recommendation -- staff will make a recommendation about proceeding further with that.

And don't take my word for it -- you rarely do, anyway -- (laughter) --

Q: Me?

MR. GIBBS: I don't mean you, personally, I meant you all. (Laughter.)

Q: -- pick me out.

MR. GIBBS: I know. Did that hurt? Did that seem stunning? (Laughter.)

Q: We don't have to sit here and take this. (Laughter.)

MR. GIBBS: But I think that -- you know, look at somebody like Norm Ornstein, who's followed Congress and watched the process of appropriations go back and forth, and understand that today marks -- I think what he said was the beginning of significant -- or continued significant reform on this process. Obviously we've seen the process in past years get out of control and the President is encouraged to take steps to bring about some control.

Yes, sir.

Q: Robert, we understand the President will be meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister on Thursday. To what extent will the naval confrontation this week overshadow that meeting? And secondly, will the President bring up China's currency with the Foreign Minister? And as an addendum to that, to what extent will that be important at the G20 meeting, as well?

MR. GIBBS: Well, let me say that the Foreign Minister will meet with Secretary Clinton today; will meet tomorrow with National Security Advisor Jim Jones, and they will both meet then with the President. The President looks forward to discussing issues of mutual concern with the Chinese Foreign Minister, including our global economic crisis, and the incident involving the boats of the two countries will be on that list for discussion. I don't think it will overshadow it, but I think the President will continue to make clear our country's position.

Q: Is currency an area of mutual concern?

MR. GIBBS: I would probably put that under the global economic crisis and a number of other issues that will be on the agenda that the President looks forward to talking to the Foreign Minister about.

Q: Robert, following on what Jennifer was saying about gentle rhetoric from the President today, when you mentioned that Congress didn't get nine of the 13 appropriations bills done, that's something the Democratic Congress -- his fellow Democrats failed to get those bills done last year. Now Mitch McConnell today, the Republican Leader, was saying that when you add up the $787 billion stimulus, you add on the $410 billion the President is about to sign for omnibus, that's a billion dollars an hour in 50 -- 51 days. When the American people look at that, is that really change to the way Washington is working?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I probably shouldn't engage an individual Senator who ran Congress for a number of years where deficits set records, and I won't do something like that today. I mean, I -- (laughter.)

Q: Tomorrow maybe?

MR. GIBBS: Or later in this briefing. (Laughter.)

Q: But the President is signing these now. Regardless of what Mitch McConnell did before, the President is signing --

MR. GIBBS: Well, but hold on, let's not -- I'm asked about the debt every day. That's not exactly -- let's not exactly put aside --

Q: That's last year's business, right?

MR. GIBBS: No, I -- well, according to some in the Senate, it was last hour's business. The President has proposed a return to fiscal sanity, and a path towards fiscal responsibility.

Look, here's what I would say -- I'll break my campaign promise and engage the Senator from Kentucky, and any senator or representative in Congress. They're -- it is certainly within one's right to criticize the budget. That's -- we get that. I think the best way for him to put forward a budget that we can look at and debate and see whether there's honest accounting -- whether we take into account natural disasters, paying for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the possibility of continued financial stability, investments in health care, education, and energy independence -- I think the best way to do that is for Senator McConnell, and anybody else, to put forward a budget plan that does those things and puts ourselves on a path towards fiscal responsibility. I think that's the best way to have the debate joined.

It's an important debate that we're having, and I think it's important that, as Mr. Buffett said, we work constructively together to try to solve our economic challenges. But that's all part of the process.

Q: Why did the President apply a different standard of “this is last year's business” for this legislation, when in things like TARP, when he was President-elect, he reached out to then-President Bush and said, look, we need to authorize the other $350 billion -- even though TARP was last October, it was clearly last year's business --

MR. GIBBS: Well, no, no. let's be fair, Ed.

Q: I am being fair.

MR. GIBBS: Okay, well, let's understand -- how does the next $350 billion get triggered?

Q: It's triggered by the President --

MR. GIBBS: No, it gets triggered by the Senate. The Senate had to -- I'm sorry, one House of the Congress had to basically authorize the re-spending of that money. So that was something that was put in by last Congress -- at our request certainly -- I mean this -- but it's not a -- trust me, having listened to some of those phone calls, it wasn't a one-sided deal. Triggering an additional amount of money in order to be spent in the current -- isn't last year's business.

Q: There are a whole host of things like that, that President Bush -- you've said you inherited from President Bush, but you're not running away from them -- like Iraq timetable. The President followed through on that, said --

MR. GIBBS: I'm glad to see you --

Q: Okay, the question is, on this piece of legislation, the President used the principle: This is last year's business. So even though it's got all kinds of things I don't like, I'm going to sign it anyway. Okay? There are a whole bunch of other things he got from President Bush that he doesn't like either. And he's going to change -- President Bush didn't want to have a timetable in Iraq, but President Obama came in and said, we're going to put that timetable -- I campaigned on that. Well, he campaigned on earmarks, as well, pulling them out of these bills. Where is the consistency?

MR. GIBBS: I'm having a lot of trouble connecting the dots in your -- I mean, I suppose the President could have come in and assumed that people weren't in Iraq, but I don't understand your analogy.

Q: You're saying this legislation is last year's business, but he's signing it into law this year. He could have vetoed it. Why wouldn't he veto it?

MR. GIBBS: Let me give you last -- let me give you yesterday's answer. The President believes that, despite protestations, that appropriations bills designed to be completed before September 30th of the previous year are last year's business. I think any reasonable look at the appropriations process would understand that. The President believes that, moving forward, dozens and dozens of appropriations bills will cross his desk because he's asked, first and foremost, that Congress not lump large bills together. And to be fair, that's done virtually every year; six to nine of these appropriations bills get glommed on at the very end or go into overtime in order to do that -- that changing the rules going forward were important because the President is best able to have an impact on that legislation moving forward.

That's what the President enumerated through transparency and a full set of earmark reforms that -- I bet when we look back on a year or two from now we'll see a decrease in the number of spending projects, just as the President has asked that we put ourselves back on a path toward fiscal responsibility through a budget that will cut the deficit in half in just four years.

Yes, ma'am.

Q: Earlier in the Oval Office this morning the President said we're doing a very good job of stimulating the economy here at home. Is the President ready to declare the stimulus a success? Does he know something that the rest of us don't?

MR. GIBBS: No, I think the -- well, I think the statement was made in relation to what other countries around the world have done in terms of economic recovery packages. I think if you look at what some people have said -- specifically the IMF -- about the amount of economic stimulus that countries should put forward, that a number of the countries that we're going to visit that take part in the G20 have not put a great deal of money forward to stimulate the economy.

Obviously, $787 billion spread out over two years represents a sizeable investment in getting that economy moving forward. And the President is proud that Congress passed, appropriated, and he signed into law an investment of that size -- as he said last September, as part of the economic crisis, the best way for our country to move forward in a globally connected economy undergoing a global recession would be for all our countries to act together. And he hopes that other countries -- many that he'll see at the G20 -- will act as the United States has.

Obviously the President isn't declaring victory on economic recovery. He is certainly declaring some victory in the fact that Congress listened to the urgent appeals of the American people to put forward a plan to create jobs and put money back into taxpayers' pockets -- and that's exactly what Congress did and exactly what he signed into law.

Q: So who should do more?

MR. GIBBS: Again, I would point out to the many people -- I'd subtract G1 from G20. (Laughter.)

Q: Have there been any conversations with the Hill about a second stimulus? And does it concern the White House if staffers up there are actually working on one just in case?

MR. GIBBS: I honestly don't know if there have been any conversations. Again, I think the onus is on all of government and all levels of government to institute effectively and in a transparent way the stimulus package that Congress has approved -- that that's the onus that we have.

I think I said -- a few weeks ago we were trying to do too much; now some think we're doing too little. I think it speaks to the notion, as I've said many times, that we have to -- there are a number of different things that have to be done in order to both stabilize our financial system and see our economy grow again.

Chuck.

Q: Two questions. Does the President think Congress works well? He seemed to be upset that he had to deal with last year's business. Is that a judgment on his part that Congress could do a better job?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I don't think that -- you know, as I said earlier, I think there are -- I think a number of -- in any number of years, if you go back and look, there have been omnibus spending bills. That's one of the reasons that the President outlined a proposal that would see the appropriations process happen in a more coordinated fashion with both parties and in both Houses, where individual appropriations bills would go through the process and be considered individually. I think the President believes if we do that, that you're likely to scrutinize those individual pieces of legislation more and that that scrutiny and transparency will result in earmark reform.

Q: So does the President approve or disapprove of the job Congress is doing --

MR. GIBBS: I do not know if he was called in the Gallup Poll that showed that Congress's approval rating is at a 4-year high. I do not believe he was one of the thousand or so respondents.

Q: Three different sort of big voices in the economy have called this -- said that the White House and that all of Washington should be on a warlike footing when it comes to the economy. Thomas Friedman did it; Steve Pearlstein did it; Warren Buffett did it. Do you accept that comparison, that this is a war -- the economic crisis is sort of -- we should be on a warlike footing?

MR. GIBBS: I think that the economic crisis that America is facing and, quite frankly, that the world is facing, I think anybody that looked at it reasonably would understand that it is as challenging a time as this country has faced in 50 or 60 years, including any problem that we've seen foreign or domestic. Now, I don't think that should -- I don't think it cuts down on the -- I mean, some have intimated that because of that there shouldn't be dissent. I think the President doesn't subscribe to that. The President believes that good ideas are not the province of just one political party and that the -- that's why the President has reached out to Democrats and Republicans in order to try to find those good ideas.

But I don't -- I think the challenges that we face, there's no doubt, are as big as any we've seen and our economy is challenged unlike it's been since World War II.

Laura.

Q: Thank you. Why didn't the President ask for an outright ban on private sector earmarks, as he did when he was a senator? And why do you think the Senate leadership is resisting even the more modest proposal that he put forth?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think on the second question, I think that's a better question for individual or groups of senators that share those concerns. I think the President believes that the process that sees any spending go through -- any private earmark go through the rigor of what a contracting process would be for the federal government, I think if it's good enough for that it would be good enough for private earmarks.

Q: Why not just have a -- why not just ban it? I mean, if it can go through a competitive -- through the normal federal funding process, why do you need an earmark that's going to benefit a for-profit company?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I would, I guess, posit that question to members of Congress with -- that have proposed that.

I think what the President has proposed today, though, is a fairly sweeping agenda to deal with earmarks. I think that's what he set out to do. And again, I think when we sit back here months and years from now we'll see that that's had an impact on this process.

Q: Given that some of the strongest people on this issue, including Senator McCain, has come out negatively towards this proposal, do you think that the President has taken any hit on his own sort of reputation on fiscal responsibility?

MR. GIBBS: No. I think when you compare what he's done on this issue not just today, but over the course of several years, and in proposing a budget that is more fiscally responsible than any budget that's been proposed in quite some time in Washington, the credentials of somebody seeking fiscal responsibility I think are in quite good shape.

Mark.

Q: Robert, did the President even consider a veto of the omnibus bill?

MR. GIBBS: I don't -- I could go back and ask him if at any point it crossed his mind. It seems somewhat moot, since when the bill comes down he'll sign it.

Q: Well, is he signing it for political purposes, because of the political pressure from members of Congress to get it signed?

MR. GIBBS: No, I think he's signing it because the funding for the government expires at the end of the day.

Q: Can you give us an example of some of the earmarks he regards as the most heinous?

MR. GIBBS: As soon as the OMB comes back with that list, and if there's a recommendation for recisions we'll certainly send that up to Capitol Hill.

Q: Robert, I'd like to go to the auto talks and task force. Has the President given any guidelines to the task force -- they've met in Detroit a few days ago -- has he offered any guidelines to the task force? And I have a follow-up.

MR. GIBBS: Well, the --

Q: Other than he wants it preserved and --

MR. GIBBS: Well, I have to go back and look at some of my notes. But I know the President met as part of his regular economic daily briefing, I want to say last week -- I'll go back and look at my notes -- with several members of the task force to get an update on where the process was. As you know, those members were in Detroit on Monday to speak with the auto companies and members representing the auto workers because we're obviously getting closer and closer to the end of the month where it's likely that action will have to be taken. I don't think the President has come up with -- I don't think he's been presented with specific plans yet, other than I would just reiterate what he said in his speech to Congress, that we need an auto industry in this country, but the auto industry is likely to be one in the future that is restructured and re-imagined from where it is today so that Americans are buying cars built by and for Americans.

Q: One of the things that he, and I think you have said, too, that all sides must give a little. When it comes to wages, GM pays an average worker around $57 an hour, whereas Toyota pays its U.S. workers about $49 an hour. Does he believe that the GM wages need to come down as a part of that giving?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think what the President has talked about, and I think this is true for many of the members on Capitol Hill, that to have that reimagined, retooled auto industry, each side is going to have to be involved in talks that give a little, and that --

Q: Including wages?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think that given the gravity of the situation, I think things involving both the auto workers and auto companies are on the table to discuss.

Major.

Q: A couple of housekeeping on the stimulus -- I mean the omnibus. Is he going to sign that in public? And if not, why not?

MR. GIBBS: I don't know the answer to when the signature will be because it hasn't come down from Congress. I don't -- I don't think there are any more -- I don't -- if the bill has to be signed today, there's no signing ceremonies that are public today.

Q: Why not?

MR. GIBBS: No reason other than the fact that some things are signed in public, and some aren't. (Laughter.)

Q: You said the President's has brought fiscal sanity to the process. Would the President generally regard most of the earmarks in the omnibus fiscally sane, or fiscally insane?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think in order to establish some degree of sanity, the President has instructed his budget office to go through the legislation.

Q: That's the category they would fall in if they end up in a recisions package --

MR. GIBBS: Say again?

Q: That's the category they would fall in if they end up in a recisions package, the insane category?

MR. GIBBS: I don't know if that's exactly the name we'll give the bill -- (laughter) -- but we'll certainly take that under advisement.

Q: Is now a good time, Robert, to demote the drug czar out of the Cabinet-level position when there's a rather active shooting drug war going on in Mexico, which is of great concern to border states, the spillover violence, et cetera?

MR. GIBBS: Well, obviously, the situation in Mexico is of -- remains a concern of this administration. It's something that the President spoke to President Calderón about when they met in January before President Obama was inaugurated. The President has respect and admiration for the Mexican President for taking on the drug cartels. Admiral Mullen was in Mexico and the President spoke -- last week -- and the President with him to get an update on the seriousness of the situation.

Q: But to those who think this --

MR. GIBBS: Right, well, --

Q: -- appears to be a demotion in the midst of this crisis.

MR. GIBBS: Well, I would say that I'd -- there are a lot of people that work in the White House, that the President wouldn't be nominating somebody that didn't have full and complete access to him and every apparatus in government in order to bring about changes in security and in our drug policy. And I think that advocates can be assured that the President has nominated somebody that takes this quite seriously, that's been working on this issue for quite some time.

And certainly the situation in Mexico is likely to involve many different departments. And again, Admiral Mullen was there representing the Joint Chiefs. I think Secretary Napolitano will visit soon. Obviously the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Drug -- National Drug Control Policy, and many others will be involved in ensuring that the situation and the violence don't spread.

Q: A quick one on Pakistan. Does the White House believe the "long march" should be allowed to go on as scheduled tomorrow?

MR. GIBBS: The?

Q: The "long march" in Pakistan to Islamabad. Many judges have been jailed, opposition figures have been arrested, there's a crackdown on --

MR. GIBBS: Let me get you something on that. I don't have it --

Q: To follow Major's question on Mexico and the drug czar's demotion, for lack of a better word, I mean, can we -- could this signify a shift in the administration's approach, away from more law enforcement/militarized approach in some of these countries to one that emphasizes an attack on the demand side and treatment here?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think that -- I think in order for any country to make progress in dealing with this issue, that if you only deal with one part of this issue -- and let's add treatment and prevention into the list of things that you talked about -- it's a little -- I guess it's a little bit like our economic problems -- there's not simply one thing to do in order to make progress on this issue.

But let me address the czar question for a minute, because I think I've been asked in this room any number of times if the czars in our White House to deal with energy and health care had too much power. We've added now a director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, assuming the same title and access that many of the people that I've been questioned by whether they were too powerful. I think just as the drug czar will, and most people do, have full access to the President of the United States to make important decisions.

Peter.

Q: Robert, last week 13 humanitarian groups were kicked out of Darfur because of the -- or following the indictment of Bashir. The activist groups are writing the President today asking him to show some leadership to try to get those groups back in. One in a million people are without food aid and potable water and health care. What is the President doing, if anything, on this to get those groups back in?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think last night he spoke on this with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in saying clearly that decisions that have been made by the government of Sudan that affect greatly the safety and security of the people of Sudan should be reversed. I think the President has been clear on that for a number of days, including the very first day when news broke about this -- asking that the government, in order to protect its people, show restraint in any of its actions.

Obviously that hasn't completely been followed and the decisions that the government has made to expel those NGOs that protect innocent people, those decisions should be reversed.

Q: Would he send somebody to talk to Bashir about it? Would he do something at the U.N. beyond talking to Ban Ki-moon?

MR. GIBBS: We may have more on that later in the week, but I don't have any update on that now.

Yes, sir.

Q: Robert, the President talked this morning in his meeting with Secretary Geithner about helping the developing countries' emerging markets. Can you talk about how you sell that and, in particular, the idea of substantially boosting the U.S. commitment to the IMF's emergency fund --

MR. GIBBS: Well, I mean, I think it's been well documented as we lead into the G20 that the demand for exports is greatly down across the world and that that is going to hit many emerging countries that our businesses and companies sell to -- is going to be -- those countries are going to be and those markets are going to be hit hardest. As the President said, we are part of and connected to a global economy; that we have to take steps in order to ensure the continued demand for American goods overseas; that there are markets that we can sell in and that the President will work with other nations and the big economies of the G20 to do just that, to ensure that those markets and that assistance gets to -- that those markets are open and that assistance allows the flow of goods and services that will not just help those developing countries, but also to help American business.

Again, I think it's part of a process that -- whereby many things have to happen to get our economy moving again, and that opening -- ensuring export -- the demand for exports from American companies into those emerging economies is certainly part of that long-term economic growth.

Q: What tools does the President have to -- this is back on earmarks -- what tool does the President have to enforce the rules he laid out today? I mean, Senator McCain during the campaign said he'd veto any bill that came before him with earmarks. Would the President veto bills that don't follow his rules, or what's his enforcement?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think you certainly mentioned one of them. I think you -- obviously the President has the ability to, as was mentioned earlier, send up legislation to have certain ideas and earmarks rescinded as part of the legislative process. Obviously the President possesses a nice pulpit from which to call out projects that he believes are unnecessary.

And I think that the President will use many of the tools in his toolbox in order to ensure greater transparency and reform in the system. The President understands that in these economic times, that we have to spend wisely the taxpayer's money and he certainly intends to do that, and I think has demonstrated that with a number of reforms since coming into office.

Steve.

Q: Robert, what does the President think about the D.C. scholarship program? The spending bill zeroes out and cuts the money for it.

MR. GIBBS: The President -- as I've said I think last week, the President doesn't believe that vouchers are a long-term answer to our educational problems and the challenges that face our public school system, where the vast majority of students are educated in this country. The President laid out a fairly robust education reform plan yesterday. But the President I think understands that there are -- it wouldn't make sense to disrupt the education of those that are in that system, and I think we'll work with Congress to ensure that a disruption like that doesn't take place.

Q: So will he propose in his full budget to restore that funding for those kids already in the program?

MR. GIBBS: I'd certainly look through the budget stuff, but I think, whether it's in the budget or in the appropriations process, that we look for a way to work with -- work with Congress to ensure, as I said, that disruption doesn't take place.

April.

Q: Robert, two things. What's the concern from the White House about Adolfo Carrion -- this current controversy about him, this possible conflict of interest?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think -- I don't have a whole lot to add from what was in -- has been in the papers and what Mr. Carrion has said about this.

Q: But are you concerned that he has not, or will not, pay this alleged $32,000 for this porch and balcony? I mean, is that -- is that all he needs to do? What does he need to do to clear up this controversy in the White House's opinion?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think -- again, I think the quote says, that when the work is complete, that the bill will be paid, and certainly that would be the expectation.

Q: And also, on Darfur. Right now the ICC's arrest warrant on Bashir, it's basically symbolic. And the President has talked about the issues of Africa and Darfur when he was a candidate. Is he going to try to help put some teeth behind what is viewed as something symbolic, as you say, possibly this week?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I make it a practice not to get ahead of anything that he may do or say --

Q: Just this once.

MR. GIBBS: Well, I appreciate the opportunity to do so. I will decline. But I think that -- again, I think the -- I don't -- I certainly don't think it's symbolic to sit in the Oval Office and ask that decisions about NGOs and the protection of innocent people be reconsidered. I think that's -- those are certainly important. And the President obviously has great concern and hopes to see progress in peace in that area. And I think that's what he's worked to do.

Q: Does the President agree with Chas Freeman that he was unfairly driven out by --

MR. GIBBS: I haven't talked to the President about it.

Q: Do you agree?

MR. GIBBS: I don't have anything to add from what Admiral Blair discussed yesterday in accepting Mr. Freeman's decision that his nomination not proceed and that he regretted it.

Q: In reference to Guantanamo Bay, there have been reports that you're close to naming an envoy to handle closing issues. Is that accurate? And if so --

MR. GIBBS: I have no policy pronouncements about that from here today.

Q: Thank you.

MR. GIBBS: Thank you, guys.

Q: Any information on travel next week?

Q: How about the schedule for the rest of this week?

Q: Yes, how about -- (laughter.)

MR. GIBBS: What's today, Wednesday?

Q: Or a day ahead? That worries me. (Laughter.) That worries me.

MR. GIBBS: Yes, what is -- yes, I have no clue what day it is. Now I'm drawing a blank. Oh, that's right.

Q: The China Foreign Minister --

MR. GIBBS: The China Foreign Minister will be here with the President -- I should let you do this. This should be a -- no offense, you know more about it than me.

The President will speak tomorrow afternoon, I believe, to members of the Business Roundtable. There's an event, I know, here at the White House on Friday. I will check about whether we're talking about the content of that yet. I know --

Q: -- one of your economic --

MR. GIBBS: The economic -- Vice President Biden will meet with officials representing each state. They're in charge of coordinating recovery money. That's tomorrow, late -- I believe late morning. The Business Roundtable is in the afternoon. Friday there's an event. And then next -- I think this is right, and we'll advise this a little bit later on today -- Wednesday afternoon, next Wednesday afternoon, the President will head to I believe it's southern California for a day and a half to discuss the economy. All right?

Q: Is it -- is just the Vice President going to take part in the stimulus thing tomorrow?

MR. GIBBS: The President -- it's my understanding the President will stop by that event, but he's the main --

Q: What's the topic with the Business Roundtable? Is it the economy or --

MR. GIBBS: It is.

Q: Surprisingly.

END 2:58 P.M. EDT

Citation: Barack Obama: "Press Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs", March 11, 2009. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=85852.
 
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