Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers
The Briefing Room
9:46 A.M. EDT
Q: Happy 100 days. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: Good morning, class. What time is the barbecue? (Laughter.)
Q: Has the jury reached a verdict?
MS. MYERS: Yes. Enormously successful first 100 days. Incredible.
Q: Where was the President this morning?
MS. MYERS: Where is he?
Q: Where was he?
MS. MYERS: He is in his office right now.
Q: He didn't jog. On the 100th day he rested. (Laughter.)
MS. MYERS: On the 100th day he rested. (Laughter.) I like -- right. She got here really early just to wait for him in that hope.
At 10:00 a.m. the President is going to meet with the Democrats from the House Ways and Means Committee. It will be in the Roosevelt Room and there will be a photo op at the top. The meeting may start a few minutes late.
Q: Oh, no.
MS. MYERS: Shock.
Q: On what?
MS. MYERS: The subject matter is reconciliation package mainly.
Q: Not parts of the stimulus package?
MS. MYERS: It's largely geared toward reconciliation. As you know, Ways and Means has about 90 percent of the reconciliation package. That's the focus of the meeting, and they may talk about other things, but that's the primary purpose.
Q: Will he take Rostenkowski to the woodshed?
Q: Will the OMB Director be there?
MS. MYERS: I don't believe the OMB Director -- St. Leon, as he's now been dubbed in the press, is scheduled to attend.
Q: How long does the meeting last?
MS. MYERS: The meeting is scheduled to last about an hour, until 11:00 a.m. And then I'm sure that some of the members will avail themselves at the stakeout.
Then, as you know, he leaves at 12:15 p.m. for the Justice Department. At 12:30 p.m. he'll tour; 1:00 p.m. give remarks. Then he comes back. At 3:00 p.m. he will meet with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain. There will be a photo op on the steps. They'll greet the King and Queen -- the President and First Lady will greet the King and Queen in the foyer, in the front foyer. Then he has his regular weekly official photos. And that's it. He'll have a health care meeting later with staff.
Q: Is he going to fire Higgins?
MS. MYERS: There's an investigation underway and we'll wait for the results of the investigation.
Q: Is there a recommendation that he go?
MS. MYERS: No. Secretary Bentsen has said -- I think they put out a statement this morning to clarify it -- that there's an investigation underway and they don't expect -- the Secretary believes there are a number of questions that need to be answered, but until the results of the investigation come back, the Secretary doesn't have any more to say about it.
Q: Has it been discussed with the President?
MS. MYERS: Not that I know of.
Q: Isn't it unusual to have a statement like this, raising questions of --
MS. MYERS: I think it's clarifying questions that were raised in some of this morning's reports.
Q: Is that the Secretary's call or the President's?
MS. MYERS: The Secretary's call. Jack just called me this morning to let me know it was going out.
Q: Now, the investigation you're referring to is the joint Treasury-Justice one that the President announced?
MS. MYERS: I believe -- and you need to double-check with the Treasury Department, but I believe there's a separate investigation about the ATF's handling of the primary showdown. But I would refer you to Justice to check on the specifics of the investigations.
Q: Final handling or the whole --
MS. MYERS: No, the preliminary one. The ATF event.
Q: Are you considering abolishing ATF?
Q: Is the President meeting today with members of the G-7 finance ministers and central bank?
MS. MYERS: No. I believe Secretary Bentsen is participating in that.
Q: There was a report that the President would meet.
MS. MYERS: It is not on his schedule today.
Q: Why not?
Q: Janet Reno's --
MS. MYERS: Secretary Bentsen is meeting with them today.
Q: Normally the President meets with them when they come into town.
MS. MYERS: I don't know what past practice is, but I just know the President is not meeting with them today.
Q: Getting back to Higgins, does the President share the concerns that Secretary Bentsen expressed in yesterday's statement?
MS. MYERS: I think that the President believes that we ought to wait for -- that there are questions that need to be answered; that's why there's two investigations ongoing on this --the joint Treasury-Justice investigation and then I believe this is a separate investigation. But we'll wait for the results of those -- we're not going to prejudge them now -- and make a determination at that time.
Q: Do you think yesterday's statement, then, did prejudge?
MS. MYERS: I think, again, we'll wait for the results of those investigations to come back.
Q: When you said it's the President's call, did you mean a call on whether Higgins goes? I thought you said before it was the President's call.
MS. MYERS: I don't think I --
Q: It's the Secretary's call on whether Higgins stays or goes?
MS. MYERS: As head of the department, yes. I'm sure he'll -- he may consult with the President about it, but it is Secretary Bentsen's call. But, again, I don't want to say anything more about it because there are investigations ongoing at this point.
Q: What is the outcome of this legislation -- part of the outcome of this investigation be a decision on whether to abolish the ATF altogether? I mean, is that part of this or you're letting Capitol Hill deal with that?
MS. MYERS: There are a number of things going on right now. I'm sure there will be a number of different recommendations that come back, things that need to be discussed. But I don't want to talk about any of the specifics that may come out of these investigations.
Q: Is Bentsen the person, though, to -- he's not going to abolish -- he's not going to recommend abolishing something that he has turf over. Is someone above supervising this?
MS. MYERS: I certainly wouldn't at this point speculate about what the Secretary may or may not do about the results of an investigation that has yet to be completed.
Q: Who is conducting the investigation?
MS. MYERS: Justice is conducting one investigation and then there's a separate investigation which the President announced last week that is a joint Justice-Treasury investigation.
Q: They're investigating themselves. Does that include the Attorney General's actions?
MS. MYERS: Yes, there's the joint Treasury-Justice. There's one joint Treasury-Justice and then there's another one in Treasury. And again, I would refer you to Treasury for the details of the progress of this particular investigation.
Q: Who would do it?
MS. MYERS: What do you mean? The Treasury Department, and then there's a joint Treasury-Justice Department investigation of the entire Waco incident that the President announced last week that will include input from outside sources, outside law enforcement sources. Both of those are ongoing and I just don't have anything more to say about the specifics.
Q: Not the specifics, but to whom do those investigations report? Who will get the final report and what is the charge of the investigators?
MS. MYERS: The charge of the investigators is to look at the incidents in Waco. I believe the reports will go to the Secretaries, and probably to the President. I'll have to get back to you on what the exact reporting procedure is.
Q: But in terms of the charge, is it to simply find out what happened and make recommendations for dealing with incidents like this in the future? Or is the future of ATF, apart from this, something that they're even being allowed to consider?
MS. MYERS: I think there are two objectives to the investigation. One is to get as detailed and clear an accounting of what happened as possible; and two is to look at how similar episodes, God forbid there ever are any, can be handled in the future and look at ways to perhaps do things better.
Q: Would abolishing ATF be under the mandate of -- I mean, have they been told that's not their purview to recommend?
MS. MYERS: I don't know what the specific instructions were. I think that they've been given very broad latitude to look at the events. And then I don't know how broad they think their mandate is in terms of recommendations, but I would think that there would be a discussion of a number of incidents. Again, the objective here is to try to figure out how to do things. If there are changes that can be made that will help us deal with similar matters more effectively in the future. So I don't think their mandate is narrow. But again, I would refer you for the operating details to Justice of Treasury.
Q: In terms of what ATF does, what -- the Waco thing was a very narrow thing. So that's why I'm wondering --
MS. MYERS: Well, I'm sure that will be --
Q: In terms of alcohol and tobacco, it had nothing to do with Waco, and so --
MS. MYERS: That will be among the things that would be considered, I would think, in looking at the overall incident.
Q: What's the White House reaction to the GDP numbers out this morning?
MS. MYERS: I thought you'd never ask.
Q: I thought you probably thought we wouldn't, but we did.
MS. MYERS: The White House reaction to the GDP numbers. GDP came in for the first quarter of this year came in much lower than expected; it's 1.8 percent. Originally, analysts had thought it would be closer to two and one-half percent. Obviously, the President is very concerned about this. He's expressed a great deal of concern about the potential for another sort of stumble in the recovery. That's why he's proposed an economic plan that he believes will dramatically reoriented the funding -- of the country and invest in this country again. It's why he proposed a program to create jobs. That's why he'll continue to press for anything he can do to create jobs. It's what we've been worried about and there's clearly not enough growth in the economy to create the kind of jobs the President believes we need to get out of this recession.
Q: Do you all place any credence in the theory that this had to do mainly with the big snowstorm in March?
MS. MYERS: No, I think that there are -- all of the components of the GDP were low. And I think that there is a lot of concern, I think that there's a lot of concern among economists who've looked at this about the weak numbers. There weak almost across the board with the exception of private investment which is a result of low interest rates.
Clearly, lower interest rates have helped a little bit. I think there's some good news although it's not consistently good in housing as people refinance or buy new homes because interest rates are at a 20 year low. However, all of the other components of the GDP are below -- are going down, including growth. And I think that's very troubling.
Q: Where's the President's renewed or revitalized or revamped stimulus package? I thought we were led to believe that we might see some of that this week.
MS. MYERS: I don't think this week, but we're going to continue to work with Congress to try to figure out how to create more jobs. Clearly, the President's committed to job creation and he'll continue to push very hard to work with Congress very closely on reconciliation to get his economic plan through.
Q: Where does that stand?
MS. MYERS: We're consulting with Congress about it. He's talking to various members.
Q: Has he made decisions on which elements of this are even going to be included?
MS. MYERS: Not yet.
Q: On Bosnia, how close is the President to making a decision? Do you expect something? Can you give us better time line on that? And -- answer that first, and then I have something else I'd like to ask.
MS. MYERS: The time line hasn't changed. It's, I think, likely that he'll make a decision in the next couple of days. But we --
Q: Senator Boren said specifically yesterday by the end of the week, is that not true?
MS. MYERS: I think in the next couple of days. I don't want to --
Q: That's tomorrow.
MS. MYERS: I don't want to lock in any particular time. I think it's likely that he'll make a decision sometime perhaps by tomorrow. Then there will be one more round of consultation as he --
Q: By tomorrow, or Saturday?
MS. MYERS: -- as he said -- I'm not going to lock him into a day. I think it's likely that it will happen in the next couple of days.
Q: Today or tomorrow?
MS. MYERS: Possibly. But again, I don't want to say --
Q: Will you tell us when he makes a decision? You always said we'll tell you when he makes a decision. Will you?
MS. MYERS: I don't know that we'll make an announcement because we won't be able to talk about the details until after he's had a chance to consult with the allies. So we expect that, hopefully, will happen sometime over the weekend or early part of next week.
Q: What form will the consultations take?
MS. MYERS: Probably, I believe phone calls from the President and perhaps discussions at other levels as well.
Q: No Christopher trip?
MS. MYERS: It's not scheduled at this time.
Q: Let me ask you too, how does he reconcile the divisions in Congress and the skepticism at the Pentagon? I mean, here's a president who came into office with very little experience in foreign policy and he's got everybody sort of all over the lot and divided. How does he sort through all that?
MS. MYERS: That' a lot of what this whole process has been about, to consult with Congress. And, clearly, there is differences of opinion among members. They had, as you know, a three-hour meeting on Tuesday to discuss the different members' concerns about Bosnia and what the best course of action there would be.
As you know, the Pentagon has -- there are some differences of opinion there about the best course of action. I think everybody agrees that there is no clear, good course of action. There are costs and risks with every decision. I think the President has considered them all very carefully and he will make a decision. I think the one thing that's clear is the President firmly believes we must take more action to stop ethnic cleansing and to stop Serbian aggression in Bosnia.
Q: You've grazed through various analyses of yesterday. I was struck by the fact that a lot of people have varying opinions on where the Europeans are now, particularly Major's statements yesterday. How do you read the Europeans, moving toward your position or moving against it?
MS. MYERS: I don't want to characterize their positions, other than I think they're going through the same process that we are in a lot of ways, considering what their options are, reconsidering what the costs are, and making a decision. I think what the President hopes to do is make a decision and then consult with them, press them to join him.
Q: Do you feel that you have a general consensus yet to do more?
MS. MYERS: I think there's great concern among the allies about the situation in Bosnia. And, again, I don't think there's any clear, good solution. If there was, the decision would have been easy, not difficult. But I think that there is great concern. The President believes it's the United States' mission in this case to lead, and that's what he intends to do.
Q: Dee Dee, if you do not get an agreement among the allies, a consensus there, will you then not announce to us or to Washington the intention or the desire of the President, or will you go ahead anyway?
MS. MYERS: I think it is our hope at this point and our expectation that we will get agreement. The President believes that -- he doesn't want to act alone, but doesn't believe we'll have to. I think we --
Q: But if he doesn't, will he go back to the drawing board before telling us?
MS. MYERS: I can't answer that at this time. I mean, we fully expect to have something that the allies will have been consulted on and agree to.
Q: Once the President makes a decision, will he seek U.N. endorsement of his action before doing anything?
MS. MYERS: Again, that will depend on what the decision is about -- whatever we do will be consistent with U.N. approval, if you will, and we'll do whatever is -- it would be --
Q: Preexisting? You mean --
Q: What does that mean?
MS. MYERS: I don't want to say "preexisting," but we will act within the mandate of the U.N.
Q: But will not necessarily --
MS. MYERS: I can't speak to that, because he hasn't made a decision.
Q: A lot of people have come out in print and made their own opinions, saying that the existing authority is enough.
MS. MYERS: But, again, it will depend on what decision he decides, what action he decides to take. But we'll act consistent with the U.N. guidelines.
Q: Dee Dee, characterize, if you would, the decision the President is --
MS. MYERS: I'll take Jill, and then Wendell.
Q: Thanks. I'm just a little confused about how you can be so specific about saying that he will make a decision, let's say by Friday or Saturday, if it's kind of a searching, amorphous process. Has he decided that he has to make a decision by Friday, or is this just that you have a feeling that he is going to --
MS. MYERS: I think he'd like to make a decision soon. I think he's spent a good deal of time, as you know, over the course of the last couple of weeks consulting widely, considering his options. I think he believes that it's time to make a decision. I think he's close to doing that.
Q: In other words, has he decided that there will come a point at which I have to make a decision?
MS. MYERS: I think that's always been true.
Q: So he has set that point? That point is now?
MS. MYERS: I just don't want to imply that it's absolutely immutable. I mean, there could be something that -- I just don't want to set this deadline in stone, because, as you know, that's a dangerous thing to do. It's just not productive. But I think we're moving toward a decision possibly as early as tomorrow, I think within the next couple of days, followed by another round of consultation, followed by a public announcement.
Now, I don't have any hard dates on when any of that will happen, other than to say I think the process is moving forward and we will have action soon. I think sometime -- this process is going to happen sometime in the next few days.
Q: My question is similar to Jill's, I think. I don't really understand precisely what is the -- the decision he's making, is it a general reassessment of U.S.-Bosnian policy?
MS. MYERS: That's implied, I think.
Q: Is it another step forward? Is it an attempt to resolve the overall situation? How do you characterize what decision he's trying to make?
MS. MYERS: I think clearly what he's been doing is reassessing U.S. policy. We've taken a number of steps, as you know, over the last several months. I won't go through them. I think that's answer 16. But what he's said is that we need to take further action under the circumstances. The Serbians have continued their aggression, they've refused to sign onto the peace process, they've refused to sit down to the table and negotiate. The President believes the time has come for further action.
Now, what he's done is considered a wide variety of options, things that weren't previously on the table; things that we've said, such as lifting the arms embargo, limited air strikes, things that weren't previously on the table. He's moving toward a decision, he's working, obviously, with Congress and with our allies to try to have a consensus on that decision, and we'll have a decision, an announcement of that soon.
Q: In light of that, then, there was discussion just a few days ago from folks who said we have just now tightened the embargo.
MS. MYERS: Right.
Q: Is the President not being advised that it might make sense to let that work for a while?
MS. MYERS: I think there are probably people in Congress and others who have advised him that that is the best course of action, sure.
Q: Does it not make sense that what the President is likely to announce is more along the lines of a threat than additional action?
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to characterize what he's likely or unlikely to announce. I do think that there is consensus that these additional sanctions will cause pain in Serbian Montenegro, that there is consensus with the allies to help really tighten the screws on things like transshipments and shipments on the Danube and seizing assets overseas -- Serbian assets. But I think that there is a discussion now about what else can be done. And I'm just not going to characterize what the President's decision might look like.
Q: Would the President seek any kind of resolution from Congress authorizing or endorsing whatever his decision is, like President Bush got in Iraq?
MS. MYERS: I think that will depend on what the decision is. So we'll --
Q: How is he going to make his announcement?
MS. MYERS: There's no specific plans yet. Again, that will depend -- a lot of this will be driven by what his decision is, what kind of further action we'll take, how it will be announced.
Q: What's under consideration? I mean, a speech, Oval Office address?
MS. MYERS: I think there will be a number of things. I think the whole variety of options, traditional options will be considered. But we just can't say until we know what the decision is.
Q: Dee Dee, whatever his decision is, would he like the allies to pull out their troops before he implements it?
MS. MYERS: Nice try. But it completely depends on what -- I can't speak to the specifics.
Q: Let me see if I might follow on that clarification. The President's ruling out of U.S. ground troops involvement -- does that include humanitarian aid workers under the auspice of the U.N.? Owen yesterday said the U.S. should be involved in that. Is that ruled out, or is that just --
MS. MYERS: I think that the decision not to insert ground troops is across the board.
Q: Are you sure about that?
Q: I thought afterward --
MS. MYERS: Yes, afterward -- no.
Q: I'm talking about after a peace treaty. I'm talking about in terms of now, helping the British, French and --
MS. MYERS: There is no other options under consideration, other than -- I will double-check this to make sure, but other than enforcing an agreed-upon settlement.
Q: Not even to protect safe havens if they were created?
MS. MYERS: I don't believe that's under discussion, but I'll take the question and get back to you.
Q: Are the only options then, bombing and lifting the arms embargo? These are the only two that we hear mentioned.
MS. MYERS: I can't talk to what advice he may be getting from his advisors.
Q: But you do raise those.
MS. MYERS: I think those have been widely discussed, but I just am not going to characterize that those may or may not be the only things that are under discussion.
Q: Dee Dee, you said the President will make a decision to impress the allies to join him. And then later you said you were seeking a consensus. So is this going to be a consultation process after he makes his decision? Is there room for the President to alter his position?
MS. MYERS: I think there is room for him to alter his position. I think he'll make a decision about the general course of action, but I don't think it will be set totally in stone. I think he'll press the allies to move in a certain direction to join him in a direction, but I think that part of the goal of consultation, obviously, is to get their input and if there's suggestions that can make the policy better or more effective, I think he'd be open to that.
Q: In fact, but you say that they have -- the allies have the right to veto over any U.S. initiative.
MS. MYERS: No, that's not what I said.
Q: I mean, if the British and the French don't want to go along, there would be nothing, you wouldn't be able to do anything? That's what you said.
MS. MYERS: What the President has said is that he doesn't plan to act alone, he doesn't believe he'll have to. We're going to continue to press the allies to work with them to reach a consensus.
Q: Just quick verification on another subject. Why is he going to the Justice Department today? Is it part of this tour, I imagine?
MS. MYERS: Yes, I think it's part of his ongoing sort of series of tours. He's gone to the Treasury Department, he's gone to the OMB.
Q: It seems coincidental that he went to the Pentagon the day the budget cuts were released, and now he's going here after Janet Reno stood up against fire. Is there no connection, or --
MS. MYERS: No, I wouldn't say that there's no connection. I think that the timing is good. I think that the Justice Department has -- and particularly the Attorney General has comported herself well under difficult circumstances in recent weeks, and I think it's a good time for the President to go to the Justice Department. I also think he'll talk a little bit about appointments in the department that happen to be ready and a few other things that are Justice-related.
Q: Any plans to --
Q: You won't announce Sessions being relieved of duty?
MS. MYERS: No.
Q: Any plans to mark the 100 days in any way?
MS. MYERS: Nothing special.
Q: Was anything said at senior staff or anything like that?
MS. MYERS: No, it didn't really --
Q: It didn't come up?
Q: it came up only in the context that there were a lot of stories about it today.
MS. MYERS: There were, I thought, generally about what we expected. (Laughter.)
Q: Fifty-five percent of you thought they were accurate, and --
MS. MYERS: Nearly 60 percent of the American people support the President now, believe that he's doing a good job; that's encouraging. And --
Q: And sixty percent of them feel he hasn't done a thing.
MS. MYERS: I don't think that they expected them to solve all their problems within 100 days. I think that 100 days is exactly that. It's the first couple months of a new administration. We believe that, obviously passing the budget resolution was a huge deal, and it's the first step toward fundamentally changing the economic policy of the country. However, there will be a lot more accomplished in the next three years and however many -- 265 days.
Q: Is there agreement here with the widespread perception that over the last couple of weeks at least the President has lost his focus?
MS. MYERS: I think that these things are cyclical, that you -- sometimes events drag you off of the things you would prefer to focus on. That's part of being President, you have to deal with foreign policy, you have to deal with situations like Waco.
I think -- you know, we have an ambitious President. He wants to accomplish a lot. He's thinking about a lot of things all the time. But I think we that we will continue to focus throughout this administration on creating jobs and providing health care. I think that we will continue to come back to those things. I think not every week will be a smashing success, but I think hopefully we'll be judged over the course of four years, not 100 days or two weeks.
Q: Frustrated by outside events, not anything of your own doing?
MS. MYERS: I wouldn't -- I didn't say that, but, I mean, you can always do better.
Q: You just said --
MS. MYERS: You can always do better. No, I didn't mean to, other than to say that we've learned a lot in the first 100 days. I think we have a lot of successes to point to. I think there are clearly things that we could have done better. And I think that we'll hopefully learn from both our successes and our not so successes and move on.
Q: Dee Dee, his approval ratings have been the lowest since opinion polls for acquitting the '50's. --
MS. MYERS: Because he's tried to do more.
Q: If he has done such a great job, how does he explain that? What is the reason?
MS. MYERS: I --
Q: Is it because of the press or the American people understand?
MS. MYERS: No. I don't want to blame anybody other than to say, I think, first of all, that the President came into office saying he was going to be an activist President. I think he's been an activist president. He didn't come in here and tell people he was going to cut their taxes and raise defense spending. He came in here and said there's a lot of things that are wrong in this country and we're all going to have to work together and we're all going to have to sort of contribute to change things. That is not an easy thing to do. He didn't say it would be easy.
Q: He's been blaming the Republicans all along for gridlock.
MS. MYERS: Given the recent weeks, I think that's pretty clear why.
Q: But the American people blame him. Well, according to the polls --
MS. MYERS: No, they don't. They do not blame him for gridlock. That's just not -- I just totally disagree with that premise.
Q: but why are the ratings so low, compared to, what, to Reagan or Bush, or --
MS. MYERS: I think I just tried to explain that and I won't bore everybody else by going over it again. But it's difficult -- he's asked -- he's made difficult decisions and he's asked people to take a difficult course of action.
I also think that polls are being taken in the wake of not the best week or two of the first 100 days, which, I think, does have some impact. But I think that the main reason is that he's made tough decisions; he's asked people to do hard things, not easy things and we're going to continue to do that.
I think in the long run that the President will be judged on the merit of his policies, which will be his efforts to create jobs and reform health care and a few other things, but those will primarily drive the next four years. I think that the American people believe that's important and we're happy to stand on our record on those.
Q: The question that always bedeviled George Bush was the wrong track right/track question. According to that poll in the paper this morning 71 percent or something think that this President is on the wrong track.
MS. MYERS: They think the country is on the wrong track.
Q: Okay, fine. The country is on the wrong --
MS. MYERS: The President agrees. That's what -- I mean, he didn't expect to get the country from the wrong track to the right track in a 100 days. He never said he could do that. What he said was that he had -- over the course of four years he was going to change economic policy, he was going to provide health care, he was going to try and do something about the campaign finance system, he was going to try to make sure that every American had an opportunity to go to college. Those are the kinds of big changes that the previous administrations didn't take on. George Bush didn't take those on. Ronald Reagan didn't take those on.
Tomorrow the President's going to announce a plan that will allow every American, regardless of income, to go to college, to borrow the money to go to college. That is a huge thing, that is a huge change.
He's already passed a $1.5-trillion budget that invests more, that cuts the deficit more than anybody's done. These are big changes that will change the direction of the country and hopefully move it from the wrong track to the right track. I think the President is not satisfied with where we are. He doesn't believe this country's on the right track yet. He doesn't believe that when 43 Senators can hold up jobs when the gross domestic product is not growing in a way that will create jobs the economy not growing in a way that will create jobs, that we're clearly not on the right track yet.
Q: But -- more Americans think that -- or at this point they think the country is on a longer track than it was three months ago. And the big difference is that Bill Clinton is now President.
MS. MYERS: Well, that's true. But I don't know that they think it was on a wronger track than it was six months ago. And I think that these -- again, you have -- fortunately we'll be judged not on 100 days, but on four years. And if at the end of -- because these changes take time. But I think we're on a good track with health care reform and economic reform, to making the kinds of changes that will move the country from the wrong track to the right track.
Q: So you're not buying the argument that many make that many Americans appear concerned that Bill Clinton, who campaigned as a moderate new Democrat, in his first three months has come across perhaps as more liberal than many of those who had voted for him had thought.
MS. MYERS: I think that we're concerned about getting the debate back and the focus back to the things Bill Clinton got elected to do, which, again, not to be redundant, but is to reform the economy and reform the health care system and a few other things. I think we worry about that every single day, and I think that, again, I'm glad we're not -- that this isn't all the time we have, because I think that we will make good progress on those issues. But obviously we're going to continue to work -- we can do better. I don't think -- the President is not satisfied with the state of the country at this point. He believes we have to -- we've got a lot of work to do.
Q: Dee Dee, the President has had to back off any one of a number of things that came out of the campaign -- Bosnia, Haiti, the middle class tax cut, in most cases pleading that things were different when he got in than he had thought. Do you all go back and reassess the campaign -- things that are left -- promises that were made that are still pending? And I wonder if maybe there are more things that are going to turn out to be naive.
MS. MYERS: I would disagree with a couple premises there. I think Bill Clinton ran for President on one of the most specific agendas that anyone has ever run on. That clearly has its down sides. But, for example, on Bosnia, the President said he would take tougher action on Bosnia. He's done that. We've --
Q: Yes, well, not yet.
MS. MYERS: Yes, he has.
MS. MYERS: Already. He created a no-fly zone, enforced the no-fly zone, pushed the allies to do that, tightened sanctions --
Q: Using military force --
Q: I mean, he hasn't done anything that's had any effect, has he?
MS. MYERS: He's taken tougher action, which he promised to do, and we're now considering -- I don't think the American people expect him to accomplish everything in 100 days. I think clearly we're doing much more on Bosnia than the Bush administration did. I don't think -- there can be no doubt about that. That's just indisputable.
Now, you may disagree that he's doing the right thing or doing enough, but he's clearly doing more, which is what he said he would do.
On Haiti, I think we're still committed toward restoring democracy in Haiti, to restoring President Aristide. I think that that process is ongoing and I think we are making progress there. Like all of these problems, it is difficult and complicated. But I think there are far more things that he talked about that he's actually doing, and I think particularly on the big things.
People elected him to create jobs, to get the economy moving again, to invest in things like education and worker training. All of which -- he's done much more on that issue in 100 days than anybody would have expected.
Q: Would you like to take a --
MS. MYERS: On health care --
Q: No, go ahead.
MS. MYERS: -- but, anyway -- so I think we're making progress on the big things and there are a number of other littler things that he's done. He said that he would reverse the Reagan-Bush era prohibitions on abortion. He's done a lot on that. He said that he would sign family medical leave; he's done that. He said he would get motor voter done. We're very close to that. So I think that there's a number of things to be happy about, but we're not there yet. We've got four years, we've got a lot of work to do.
Q: Is he planning the "Putting People First," -- the list of stuff is turning out to be somewhat of an albatross?
MS. MYERS: No, I think it's clearly a challenge. It was an ambitious agenda to campaign on, it's an ambitious agenda to govern on. But he ran on it because he though it was important and that he could accomplish it, and I think we're still moving on.
Q: Is this student loan announcement tomorrow going to effect Sallie Mae at all and its status? Are you going to shut it down?
MS. MYERS: We'll have the specifics of it tomorrow, but --
Q: If you had the specifics a moment -- allow everybody -- tell us.
MS. MYERS: It is. We're going to announce a program tomorrow that will allow every --
Q: lending program that nobody will be denied on the basis of --
MS. MYERS: That's right, on the basis of income. So --
Q: Initially, they said they were talking about scaling that back? Have they decided not to scale that program back and go full, all-out? There was talk a couple of months ago --
MS. MYERS: There was talk based on --
Q: So it's not going to happen?
Q: Are you announcing it piecemeal?
MS. MYERS: No, we're going to announce the outlines of the program tomorrow.
Q: Stephanopoulos briefing today?
MS. MYERS: Two o'clock p.m.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END10:17 A.M. EDT
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/272259