Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers
The Briefing Room
9:30 A.M. EST
MS. MYERS: The President has declared disaster areas in both Georgia and Washington State. The disaster in Georgia results from tornadoes, high winds and heavy rain on February 21st and 22nd. And the disaster in Washington is due to damages resulting from severe storms and high winds on the 20th and 21st.
That's the major news this morning.
Q: Where's the summit going to be?
MS. MYERS: We'll have that today -- this morning.
Q: In what form?
MS. MYERS: I think the President will make an announcement at the top of his meeting with the mayors at 10:00 a.m.
Q: On what? Couldn't hear.
MS. MYERS: On the location of the summit with President Yeltsin.
Q: What about the list of staff cuts?
MS. MYERS: Well, as we said -- have said throughout, that the staff cuts will be effective October 1st. That's what we said when we made the announcement February 9th. We're continuing to work toward that date. We fully expect that 25 percent staff reduction will be effect at the beginning of the fiscal year.
Q: Was there a list provided to The Washington Post yesterday about this?
MS. MYERS: No, we provided them much of the same information that we provided to everybody when the President made the announcement about the 25 percent reduction in staff.
Q: This morning's story said something about 14 percent instead of 25 percent.
MS. MYERS: What we did was provided -- we didn't provide a specific list of names. We provided a numerical number of the, I believe it was February 13th payroll -- how many people were on payroll February 13th. There is a bulge now because we have a lot of people working in personnel and other temporary assignments as we transition into the Clinton administration. We expect that by the 1st of October we will have a full 25 percent reduction over Election Day 1992.
Q: Can you release these interim figures that you --
MS. MYERS: We're happy to provide the same information which was the February 13th payroll total numbers. I'll be happy to get that to you.
Q: And will that include OMB and the Personnel Office?
MS. MYERS: No, it includes the baseline that we used in making the staff reduction. It excluded USTR and OMB employees.
Q: Other than the site, what do you know about the summit? How long will it be and how did they arrange for the site? Has there been personal contact with Yeltsin and so forth? Because we know there will be a bare bones announcement.
MS. MYERS: As you know, many of the details were worked out between Secretary Christopher and Prime Minister Kozyrev last week. The summit will be April 3rd and 4th. And again, we'll have the location --
Q: The 3rd and 4th?
MS. MYERS: -- 3rd and 4th, and we'll have the location later this morning.
Q: Will there be any side trips to other countries?
MS. MYERS: We don't have the details yet. As you know, we'll be back here by Monday, the 5th.
Q: What team does he throw the ball at? Is it the Orioles?
MS. MYERS: Orioles. Orioles-Rangers.
Q: Oooh -- George W. (Laughter.)
Q: Do you know what the topics will be.
MS. MYERS: No.
Q: Mitterrand is here, I guess next week --
MS. MYERS: Tuesday.
Q: He's going from here to Russia, I believe. Is part of their discussion -- is a large measure of their discussion going to be on Russia and European --
MS. MYERS: I'm sure it will come up, but there are a number of other issues that I'm sure that President Mitterrand will want to discuss with President Clinton, including other events in Europe and trade issues. I expect discussions about the situation in Russia and the other former republics will come up, but --
Q: What subjects do you think are going to be the main ones on the agenda besides Europe and Bosnia?
MS. MYERS: I don't have the specific agenda.
Q: Do you know who will be going?
Q: Do you have any reaction to former President Nixon's appeal to President Clinton to do more for Russia?
MS. MYERS: I think President Clinton is committed to moving forward with the democratic and market reforms. It's something that he'll discuss with President Yeltsin. As you know, President Clinton was in favor of additional aid to the Soviet Union -- to Russia -- last year before the Bush administration. He continues to support increased aid.
Q: Dee Dee, there's a lot of political instability in Russia right now. How does the White House assess the danger of the situation?
MS. MYERS: Well, obviously, we are going to continue to work with President Yeltsin toward political and economic reform in Russia and do what we can to make sure that that situation is stable.
Q: But how do you assess it at this moment?
MS. MYERS: I think clearly there are problems, but I think President Yeltsin, as President Clinton has said, is in good shape and he believes that he's working forward and making progress on those important reforms. It's among the things that I'm sure the Presidents will discuss at the summit.
Q: Does that mean you disagree with Richard Armatage's assessment that Yeltsin's days are numbered?
MS. MYERS: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Ruth -- I'm sorry -- Ann. Post reporters all look alike. (Laughter.)
Q: Is the administration considering a naval blockade of the Danube as a further sanction?
MS. MYERS: We're continuing to discuss additional measures with other members of the U.N. Security Council and our allies in terms of getting tougher on the Serbs.
Q: Did the President, when he spoke with, was it Italian yesterday?
MS. MYERS: Italian.
Q: Was that part of the discussion?
MS. MYERS: They discussed a number of issues. We're continuing to -- discussions about that are ongoing.
Q: Yesterday, you were going to give a little more reaction to the decision by the Serbs to have a 24-hour period in which the Muslims could come out of the cities. Do you have a little more on that now? What is the White House reaction to that decision?
MS. MYERS: I'll get back to you on that.
Q: Doesn't it seem to be confirming that the ethnic cleansing is succeeding?
MS. MYERS: No. We're going to do everything we can to make sure that -- many things to make sure that ethnic cleansing doesn't succeed. It's an abominable policy.
Q: What's many things?
MS. MYERS: Well, one of the things we're doing right now is discussing with our allies and other members of the Security Council ways to toughen sanctions to continue to crack down on the Serbs. And I think --
Q: When do you expect new measures, new steps to be taken?
MS. MYERS: We don't have any time line.
Q: How long will it take? I mean, time is of the essence.
MS. MYERS: I don't have a time line.
Q: You're not opposing the 24-hour escape route. Isn't that giving tacit approval to ethnic cleansing? Isn't that what the Serbs want?
MS. MYERS: We'll have more on that later.
MS. MYERS: I think George --
Q: this happening on Saturday and Sunday.
MS. MYERS: I understand.
Q: In what form will the President's announcement on the summit --
MS. MYERS: He's just going to make an announcement, I believe at the top of his press conference with the mayors at 10:00 a.m.
Q: Dee Dee, the President said yesterday when he was asked about his reaction to the World Trade Center bombing arrest that he didn't want to say anything, maybe he would have more to say tomorrow. What's --
MS. MYERS: We don't have a specific announcement planned. I have a feeling the President may get asked about that today. But we don't have any specific announcement planned.
Q: Is he taking questions?
MS. MYERS: Yes.
Q: I guess we're duty bound to ask you whether the White House has been informed of any other arrests in the Trade Center bombing.
MS. MYERS: Not that I know of.
Q: Has he been giving a briefing on this subject, on the Trade Center bombing today or last night?
MS. MYERS: He's had ongoing sort of information about that and has had his daily intelligence and national security briefings this morning. I suspect some it came up.
Q: Does he have an understanding as to how limited or how wide this --
MS. MYERS: I can't comment on the details.
Q: Can you tell me, on the Mitterrand visit, is it next week? Is it a state visit? What's happening?
MS. MYERS: I believe it's a working visit and I don't have the specific agenda or schedule for the day. But he will be here on Tuesday. I can try to get to back you, if it's ready, with more specific details.
Q: So it will be similar to the Major visit?
Q: The latest employment report says the biggest job growth in four years. Does that lesson an increased stimulus package?
MS. MYERS: I mean, obviously we're encouraged by that. It's the best job growth we've seen, as you pointed out, in a number of years. However, too many of those jobs were part-time jobs and we're still committed to creating more full-time, stable jobs. And we'll continue to work toward that goal.
Unemployment is still at 7.0. It's too high. It's still higher than it was at the trough of the recession in April of '91. We'll continue to do everything we can to create jobs. The President's still concerned about a slow job growth.
Q: But it's gone down now for several months in a row. Do you have any reason to believe that will not continue and that it will not be in an acceptable range by the time your stimulus package could take effect?
MS. MYERS: Obviously, we're encouraged by the new figures, but this recession has stalled twice -- I mean, the recovery has stalled twice before. The President is committed to a stimulus package to make sure that we don't see a third stall in recovery.
Q: We have almost every economic sign pointing towards recovery, recovery seems to be well underway. Are you saying that psychologically the President feels the stimulus package needs to go forward for psychological reasons to prevent this coming back, or do you have any specific economic evidence that there's a change this recovery could stall?
MS. MYERS: There's both psychological and economic reasons for it. I don't think the American people feel like the recession is over. They don't feel that their jobs are secure. The job growth is encouraging. We want to make sure that there is growth in not just part-time but full-time jobs and at this point the job growth has not caught up with the recovery. We're still more than -- nearly three million jobs short of where we would be in a normal recovery. The President's concerned about that.
There are a number of encouraging signs and we think things have gotten better since President Clinton was elected. Interest rates have dropped nearly a full point, we believe that's very encouraging. They're at their lowest rate in 20 years. There are a number of other encouraging economic factors out there -- consumer confidence is continuing to go up. But we want to make sure that this recovery hold that long-term full-time jobs are created. And the President's committed to moving forward with a stimulus package.
Q: Republicans have been using the mayors as an example of some of the likely waste in the President's economic plan. Is that the reason for the meeting today? And this his second meeting with the nation's mayors?
MS. MYERS: He's met a number of times with mayors and will continue to do so. He believes that mayors who are out there every day dealing with people in their cities are most sensitive to the need for increased jobs. Cities are hardest hit by the lack of job growth. He intends to work with them to create jobs and make sure that the economy grows. They're very interested in seeing a stimulus package created, and that's one the things that he's going to talk to them about. They want to see the investments that are in the economic plan as well.
Q: Dee Dee, the Common Cause that came out this week on soft money included $125,000 from two Arkansas firms that have ties to Worthen Bank, which is where the campaign did its banking. Do you think that's a conflict? Do think that --
MS. MYERS: I'll have to look at the details. I haven't seen it.
Q: Dee Dee, Interfax, the Russian press agency, is quoting Vancouver as the site. Do you have any comment?
MS. MYERS: The President will have more to say about that at 10:00 a.m.
Q: Is it a cold weather site? (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: We'll have more to say about that very shortly.
Q: Do you have any travel next week?
MS. MYERS: At the end of next week -- I think FridaySaturday tentatively.
Q: Do we know where yet?
MS. MYERS: We don't have the confirmed sites yet.
Q: Will medical health care reform be part of that?
MS. MYERS: We don't have the full agenda. It could very well be.
Q: Were mayors -- there's several mayors of bigger cities that are not on the program. We assume they've been invited; such as the Mayor of Dallas is not on this list. Was he invited?
MS. MYERS: I'll have to get back to you. I know a number of mayors were invited, but couldn't attend for one reason or another. But I'll have to check specifically on Dallas.
Q: He's a conservative Republican which may explain this --
MS. MYERS: Well, there are some Republicans on the list. It includes a geographic balance of large and small cities. So I don't know specifically about Dallas, but I can get back to you.
Q: Are you saying that the President is going to be prepared to answer a question now on Bosnia today in terms of tougher --
MS. MYERS: No.
Q: But he will answer on the question of the 24-hour?
MS. MYERS: No, I just said that we might have more -- that we'd get back to you and have more to say about that. I don't mean to imply the President's going to have a statement on it.
Q: What does the weekend look like?
MS. MYERS: He has a radio address tomorrow at 10:06 a.m. and that is the only event on his public schedule. And it's tentatively scheduled to be on the domestic economy.
Q: What will he be doing all weekend?
MS. MYERS: He'll be spending time here. He has no plans to leave, as of right now. I think he'll be resting some, spending some time with his family and probably catching up on things that are in his in-box.
Q: Dee Dee, when you said last weekend, I think it was that you're making a comparison between the cost of flying smaller planes and Air Force One and all of that. When you're done with that can you give us some figures on the comparative costs?
MS. MYERS: Let me check into it and see where we are.
Q: I'll ask again. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: I believe you will.
Q: Dee Dee, there was talk about different times for the radio address. Are you going to keep it the same time now or is it going to continue to fluctuate?
MS. MYERS: I think to the degree possible we'll keep it at around 10:00 a.m. But I think it will depend on other events on the President's schedule. We're not locked into that.
Q: Does he have something against Camp David?
Q: Will it continue to be live?
MS. MYERS: He just -- they'll continue to be live, I think, whenever that's possible. And I think they'll continue to be at 10:00 a.m. whenever that's possible. But if the schedule demands it, we'll change it.
Q: Dee Dee, what does the White House consider to be full employment and is that the target you're shooting for --
MS. MYERS: Pardon? Sure, we're shooting for full employment. What we'd like to see in the meantime is the unemployment figures continue to decline.
Q: Is there a --
MS. MYERS: No.
Q: Is there any chance you could get Lake or someone in here to just talk to us a bit about what you want to accomplish on this Russian thing, because it is his first overseas --
MS. MYERS: That would be most helpful today?
Q: Yes. It would be great.
MS. MYERS: Okay.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 9:45 A.M. EST
William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/272130