Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers
The Briefing Room
2:45 P.M. EST
MS. MYERS: Major announcement to begin with. No, this is bigger. The President -- well, Prime Minister Murayama of Japan has accepted President Clinton's invitation to pay an official working visit to the White House on January 11, 1995. President Clinton and Prime Minister Murayama will exchange views on the current state of U.S.-Japan relations, as well as a variety of bilateral issues. Among these are economic issues encompassed by the framework agreement signed in July of '93. It includes automobiles and auto parts, financial services and deregulation. The two leaders will also discuss security cooperation, implementations of the steps to resolve in North Korea, nuclear problems, our common agenda on global issues, APEC, and other Asian and international issues of mutual concern.
So that's something to look forward to. Mark your calendars.
What's that? That's about it.
Now, the President -- I thought, for those of you who might be interested in tonight's speech --
Q: He has a speech tonight?
MS. MYERS: There is, actually. We've decided to go ahead and have one -- 9:00 p.m. in the Oval Office. The President has spent the day so far at the residence working on a number issues, including the speech; just putting his own final touches. As you know, he likes to spend some time working on these kinds of addresses. This will certainly reflect his personal views.
For the last -- since the election, I think the President's certainly spent a good deal of time finishing up the important business, unfinished business, after the close of Congress, including finishing work on GATT, traveling to Indonesia to finish -- to make important progress toward breaking down barriers to trade in Asia. Then he was back here where he, obviously, attended the Summit of the Americas in Miami, further bringing down barriers to free trade in the hemisphere.
He's now spending -- the last couple of weeks spent a lot of time looking forward, working on the budget, fine-tuning his priorities for the coming two years. And I think that's certainly what he'll talk to the American people about tonight. It is a speech that will look forward, that will talk about who is going to fight for ordinary Americans, who is going to put government on their side and make government work for them again and reflect their values.
So this will be, I think, thematic in many ways. It will look forward, it will look down the road and try to define for the American people as we work with them to move this country forward.
Q: Why does he think it's necessary at this time to have a speech like this?
MS. MYERS: I think it's an opportunity at this time to have a speech like this. I think for the last several weeks, certainly we've heard a lot from the Republicans about where they plan to take the country, and the universe has changed somewhat; we have new leadership in the House and in the Senate. I think the American people want to hear from the President, want to hear where he plans to take the country.
I think over the last two years they've certainly seen him fighting very hard for working people, but perhaps in some ways not doing as much as they would have liked. And I think this will be an opportunity for him to talk about his agenda and how to move it forward.
He came to Washington very much committed to putting government back on the sides of working people. The first thing he did was pass a budget that would bring the deficit down and help get the economy moving again to create jobs. Obviously, we've seen that's been very successful. With the help of the President and his economic plan and his economic team, we've seen an economy create over five million new jobs; inflation remains under control; we've seen wages start to go up again for the first time. But that's just the beginning.
Q: tax cut in the speech tonight?
MS. MYERS: Well, tax fairness was another one of the things that he's talked about throughout his presidency.
MS. MYERS: That's not -- I don't think that's what I said. I certainly think the economy has improved. And I think that's a point worth making and something that the American people need to know about.
Q: What was your answer to Helen's question?
MS. MYERS: I didn't answer it -- (laughter) -- because I can't take all the mystery out of tonight. What I did say, which none of you have heard me say at all in the last few days, was this President has been committed to tax fairness. He ran for President saying he'd like to cut middle-class taxes at -- for the last decade the tax burden has been shifted increasingly, or in the 1980s was shifted increasingly to the middle class. And he said he wanted to restore tax fairness. That's something that he's committed to doing.
In the first two years he made a down payment on that by expanding the earned income tax credit to 15 million more American families, including 40 million American people. He increased taxes, as you know, on the wealthiest 1.5 percent, and he made 90 percent of small businesses eligible for tax breaks.
So I think he would like, as he has said, to give working people, to give the middle class a tax break. Now, you'll have to wait until tonight to see how this drama comes out. But that's something that he's been committed to and something he has said repeatedly he'd like to do.
Q: By the end of the night there will be four tax plans out. How does he expect this is going to be resolved?
MS. MYERS: What -- you mean from the Republican leaders in the House or Republicans leaders in the Senate, the Democratic leaders in the House? Well, I think this is something that, obviously, Congress is going to have to resolve. The President will put forward his plan and fight for it, as he has throughout his administration.
I think it is important to note that in the last week the American people have heard both -- well, they've heard the Democratic leader of the House talk about his commitment to tax cuts for the middle class, something that Congressman Gephardt has talked about for over a decade. And tonight the President will have more to say about that as well.
Q: What level of participation have the Democratic leaders of Congress had in framing this speech?
MS. MYERS: They've been consulted, but this is a speech that, I think, reflects the President's views. We've worked closely with them. The President has worked closely with them certainly over the course of the last two years and in recent months. But this is a speech that reflects the President's views.
Q: Do you know if any of them have been here to see him on this, and how often, if at all, he's spoken to any of them on the phone this week?
MS. MYERS: None of them have been here to discuss the speech that I'm aware of. The President makes a lot of phone calls to a lot of people when he's preparing something like this, and he has over the last couple of weeks talked to not only members of Congress, but his friends and allies around the country. But this again -- and I think there has certainly been an effort, and will continue to be an effort throughout today on a staff level to contact members of Congress and to talk to them about what's in this. But I think a lot of these conversations have been ongoing. The President has talked periodically to members as well as to people who aren't members of Congress about this. But ultimately, it will reflect his judgment, his vision, his goals.
Q: Have you identified all of the specific spending cuts and consolidations and whatever else has to be done to pay for any kind of middle-class tax cut?
MS. MYERS: Well, the President has said repeatedly that he would not propose a tax cut that wasn't paid for.
Q: But have you identified specifically where these cuts would be made -- spending cuts and consolidations or anything else?
MS. MYERS: I think that, as has been our practice in the past, that if the President should propose a middle-class tax cut that you can expect that it will be paid for. And I think that if you look back over the last couple of years, there's always been a good deal of specificity in our proposals. We have really -- this President has really been committed to honest budgeting and to being specific.
Q: But as of today, he will know -- I mean, we will know today or tomorrow where his --
MS. MYERS: Well, I would just remind you, this is a 10- minute speech. This is not a budget address; it's not a State of the Union address. This is a speech that will be 10 minutes, maybe a little bit longer. So it's not going to be any kind of line-by-line recitation of major budget proposals. But the process certainly will be specific. I mean, the President will be able to back up anything that he says.
Q: Will he back it up with money?
MS. MYERS: I just think I answered that. It's a 10- minute speech, not a budget message.
Q: Before we lose our time on tape, I wonder if you could talk a little bit about the Carter mission and, in particular, why the White House appears to be so standoffish of his potential --
MS. MYERS: I would disagree with that characterization. As you know, the President spoke with President Carter yesterday afternoon. He had been contacted by Dr. Karadzic about a potential visit to Bosnia. Karadzic laid out six criteria that he would work towards. And President Carter indicated that if those criteria were met, that he would consider going to Bosnia. He talked to President Clinton about that, of course. And I think the President's view is that if -- well, certainly I think we're skeptical. We've heard a lot of promises from the Bosnian Serbs in the past, a couple of years. Many of those have met with disappointment. Nonetheless, if the Bosnian Serbs keep these commitments, it could help create an atmosphere that would lead to or help promote an atmosphere for negotiations towards a settlement. And we continue to believe that the only solution to this is a negotiated settlement.
Again, President Carter would travel as a private citizen, as a representative of the Carter Center, and not as a representative of the government. But I think certainly the President thinks that if he can go and help create an atmosphere conducive to negotiations that would be a good thing.
Q: Does he have the President's blessing, one? And, two, are there concerns within the administration about the political implications following the former President's trips to North Korea and to Haiti?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think if you look at the former President's trip to North Korea and to Haiti, they both helped facilitate resolutions of ongoing problems. That's not to say that there's any silver bullet, and certainly not in the case as complicated as Bosnia. But I think the President believes that if the Bosnian Serbs keep their commitment toward the six steps that Karadzic outlined -- and the caveat there is that any of these can be reversed within a day. And so it's something that we will be watching very closely and certainly passing -- we watch the situation on the ground there closely on a daily basis anyway.
But we'll certainly be passing that information on to President Carter so he can make a judgment about whether or not it's worthwhile for him to travel to Bosnia. I think President Clinton again believes that if he can help facilitate an atmosphere that will lead to a countrywide cease-fire, agreed upon by both parties, and to create an atmosphere where negotiations toward a political settlement can be reached, that that is certainly a good thing.
Q: Dee Dee, has the President authorized logistical support for the Carter mission? For example, a U.S. government plane to fly him to Sarajevo?
MS. MYERS: I think that it's conceivable that we would provide logistical support, and the details of that have not yet been worked out. You might want to check with the Pentagon.
Q: He is going to go?
MS. MYERS: If he goes. It's not clear whether he'll go. Again, it will depend on circumstances on the ground.
Q: Dee Dee, the Serbs will certainly want to know what U.S. thinking is on some of these things. Is Carter authorized to speak or at least to lay out the current U.S. policy, or is he --
MS. MYERS: No, he's --
Q: is he taking any kind of message whatsoever from the White House to the Serbs?
MS. MYERS: He will not be -- he's not going as a representative of the United States, so he will not be negotiating on behalf of the United States.
Q: I understand he will not be negotiating, but the Serbs will certainly want to know what Clinton's position is on a lot of these issues -- his current position.
MS. MYERS: Well, I think our position on these issues has been clear. We have supported and worked with the Contact Group. We have endorsed a settlement based on the Contact Group map. There's been no change in our position with regards to those issues. I think what President Carter can do, should the Bosnian Serbs -- their commitments and should it be feasible for him to go, is create an atmosphere that will help make a negotiated settlement more possible.
Now, I think -- we've certainly seen a lot of ups and downs in the situation in Bosnia over the last couple of years. We've seen a lot of broken promises over the last couple of years. So I don't think that we think this is the end of the problem. But, again, I think President Clinton's view is if this can help facilitate progress, then it is a good thing.
Q: Is Carter taking any message whatsoever from the White House to the Serbs?
MS. MYERS: President Carter's not decided to go.
Q: Well, Dee Dee, assuming he does go, is there any reason why the Bosnians should not feel whatever they say to Mr. Carter will be communicated to Mr. Clinton and that they are therefore, in effect, speaking to the representative of the administration in the sense that the word will definitely get right back?
MS. MYERS: Certainly President Carter has, in these circumstances, has communicated regularly with the White House when he's been traveling overseas, even as a representative of the Carter Center. I think it's a little premature to say what the Bosnian Serbs might or might not think since President Carter has not decided to go.
I think what's interesting is that they approached President Carter. And I think that that -- I certainly don't speak with them, and don't know what all their motivations are, but it's perhaps a reflection of their realization that UNPROFOR and NATO are there plan to remain engaged, that the allies are continuing to work toward a settlement, and that nobody's given up on this problem.
Q: Dee Dee, does the President have a feeling that the Republicans are trying to preempt his power, suggesting what he have in a speech, telling him to have a moratorium on regs and everything else that they've done since the election.
MS. MYERS: Sure. (Laughter.) I don't think that comes as a surprise.
Q: Does it irritate him?
MS. MYERS: I think that it doesn't surprise him.
MS. MYERS: I don't think so. But I think the President will continue to put forward his ideas, continue to work very hard to pass those ideas through Congress or to make progress on them administratively or through whatever other means he chooses; that he hopes to work with the Republicans in Congress. He's reached out to them.
He invited Congressman Gingrich and Senator Dole here. They had a good meeting, a productive meeting. There are certainly some areas in which they agree. I think both sides have indicated they would like to see some middle-class tax relief. The President's made it very clear that he wants to see that paid for. I think the Republicans have yet to outline any spending cuts or specific proposals for paying for their taxes. We're anxious to see that.
Q: Will the President do that tonight?
MS. MYERS: The President has consistently laid out very specific cuts.
Q: What about tonight?
MS. MYERS: I'm not going to tell you what he's going to do tonight. I'll repeat myself silly. (Laughter.)
Q: Republicans for not having --
MS. MYERS: I just point to -- okay, let's look at the record here, Susan. Let's look at the record. And I can't tell you what he's going to do tonight, but all I can do is point you back to the last two years where we have laid out specific spending cuts and specific reductions in spending, in government -- specific -- and we've waited and waited and waited to see a similar kind of specificity from the Republicans, and we've yet to see it. We didn't see it in the 103rd Congress, and so far we haven't seen it from people who are going to be representing the Republican party in the 104th Congress.
So I think if this is -- if track records mean anything here, and I hope that they do, the burden of proof is on the Republicans. We've consistently done it, and the President has consistently said he will do it. And he's made good on that commitment for the last two years.
Q: My question doesn't relate to a tax cut. Does the President think that his power and prerogatives are being preempted and that they --
MS. MYERS: No, your question was does he think the Republicans are trying to. That's a different question than does he think they are being.
Q: over his prerogatives.
MS. MYERS: I think certainly the Republicans are trying to make their mark. They're trying to have their way in as many areas as they can. There's no question about that. The President, I think, feels comfortable that he's going to continue to lay out his agenda, he'll continue to work very hard to get it passed, that ultimately he's the decision-maker, and he's going to move forward.
Q: Does the Clinton administration still oppose a balanced budget amendment.
MS. MYERS: There's been no change in the President's view of that. I think the one thing he has said is if the Republicans would like to see a balanced budget amendment that will cost some $700 billion to a trillion dollars, depending on how it's structured and how many years, you need to show specifically how you're going to pay for it, how are we going to get there.
Q: Dee Dee, when you talk about the President's track record and the deficit reduction and no phoney-baloney numbers, some economists and other budget analysts are suggesting that what he's about ready to do tonight is forsake that track record, to promise a cut that would cost a lot in aggregate and give individuals very little. How does he answer those concerns?
MS. MYERS: The President has -- this goes back to something that he's talked about consistently -- providing tax relief to the middle class. He believes that's important. He believes that's important not only as a issue of fairness, but as an issue of restoring the American people's faith in their government. He, again, has made a down payment toward tax fairness, but thinks that it is important to provide tax relief to the middle class if economic circumstances permit. That is something that he believes very strongly and something he talked about during the campaign and has talked about during the first two years of his presidency.
Q: Dee Dee, how do you characterize receiving a 10- point letter from the Republicans with suggestions of what to put in the speech. Last night's official reaction was, we welcome the input, which was a tad disingenuous. (Laughter.) Could you go a little further?
MS. MYERS: We always welcome input for speeches like this. No, I -- look, I think that that's -- I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I really am not sure that they had the President's, the best interest of the President's speech in mind when they wrote the letter. I know it's going to come as a shock, but I think certainly, it's so obvious that there motivation was political in doing this. I think the President is on the record addressing almost every single one of the issues laid out in that letter. And I think it's pretty transparent.
Q: They said their motivation was in a bipartisan spirit to try to work together --
MS. MYERS: Oh, well, then I stand corrected -- (laughter) -- and I apologize.
Q: going to be in the White House job that he confirmed last night he was going to take?
MS. MYERS: We have made no announcements about that. As you know, Governor McWhorter was here yesterday. He talked with the President. The President has always valued Governor McWhorter's experience and advice and will continue to do that. And if we have something specific to say, we will.
Q: He confirmed last night that he was asked to take a job here --
MS. MYERS: Nothing specific for you on that.
Q: Well, he said no already. It's on the wires.
MS. MYERS: No, that's not true.
Q: Oh, well, what is true, then?
Q: What is true?
MS. MYERS: That's not what the wire says.
Q: What does the wire say?
MS. MYERS: I will leave that to Mr. Hunt and Ms. Thomas and Ms. Cornwall to -- I don't know which one it was on.
Q: a state where the Democrats just got trounced.
MS. MYERS: I don't see what that has to do with it. I think Governor McWhorter served for eight years. He's a very effective governor. He's an old friend of President Clinton's, someone who the President has great confidence in and great respect for, and I think would love to have his input and guidance as this presidency goes forward.
Q: announcement coming out?
MS. MYERS: I don't have any announcements on an announcement. I just don't have anything on that for you.
Q: Can we get a fact sheet either before or after the speech, and can I ask the advanced text question?
MS. MYERS: We are trying, planning, hoping to put out some excerpts in advance some time late this afternoon, early this evening in advance of deadlines for publication and broadcast. We will also try to put out a little bit of additional information if we can. What was the other part of your question?
Q: A fact sheet?
MS. MYERS: Yes, there may be some additional information. Don't count on an advanced text.
Q: Will there be any follow-up tomorrow with any news conference from the administration officials or somebody --
MS. MYERS: Yes, there will be a briefing here tomorrow, probably 10:00 a.m. with some senior administration officials. We're still putting together the roster on that --
MS. MYERS: Here, in the briefing room, 10:00 a.m. to follow up on things that are talked about tonight.
Q: Will he have a news conference tomorrow afternoon --
MS. MYERS: No.
Q: Will there be a briefing?
MS. MYERS: That's the only thing scheduled at this point.
Q: Will there be a photo-op of the President today?
MS. MYERS: No, we'll release a White House photo of him working on his speech. They're working on that now.
Q: What's the White House evaluation of the merits of Phil Gramm's tax cut proposal this morning, not to mention, for that matter, Gephardt and the House Republican contract?
MS. MYERS: I don't think we've had a chance to evaluate the details of Senator Gramm's proposal, but I think we're still waiting -- I think, having just seen wire stories about it, he was not specific about what cuts --
Q: I thought he said 16 percent across the board from a list of consolidated energy --
MS. MYERS: Right. He didn't say specifically what programs within there he was going to cut out, whether he was going to cut every program by 16 percent. I mean, those are important questions, and I think we're still waiting for some answers on that.
Q: Back to guidance for the speech tonight -- you're going to put out perhaps some paper this afternoon. Are we going to have -- be able to see anybody and question any administration officials before the speech, or are we just going to get paper?
MS. MYERS: At this point, we're working on paper.
Q: Back on the tax cut, what does the President believe is the economic benefit of a tax break for the middle class?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think he believes that tax fairness is an important issue and something that he believes in. It's something that he has been committed to and will continue to work for.
Q: How would it benefit the economy?
MS. MYERS: Well, I think it will -- I'm certainly not going to -- I have to be careful of not confirming something that I can't confirm. I think he believes that it is an important issue of tax fairness, and that is, I think, primarily the motivation. I think it will also help provide additional income for working people. And people here may not think that several hundred dollars a year is a lot, but it could mean a month's rent, or a couple months' child care payments or a number of other things. And so I think people have to be a little bit careful about cavalierly dismissing several hundred dollars which have been some of the proposals that have been floated as being meaningless. I don't think it's meaningless to the working family of four, making $30,000 or $40,000 a year.
Q: On the contrary, Dee Dee, some economic analysts are saying that promoting consumer spending with a tax cut when the economy is already working near capacity may not be an economically sound idea.
MS. MYERS: Well, I think so far what we have is an economy that's growing, that's created five million new jobs, has seen low inflationary pressure. I think this administration's done a damn fine job managing the economy.
Q: When you look at what might be the cut side of the package when we hear about it, will we also hear arguments that this is also some deficit cut plan?
MS. MYERS: We're not going to do the whole budget package today. So, again, this is a 10-minute speech. We're not going to talk about every single issue that's going to be discussed over the course of the next couple of months. This isn't the State of the Union and it's not the budget message. But there's been no change in the President's commitment to deficit reduction.
Q: Can we take it from what you've said that trade will be an element of this discussion?
MS. MYERS: No. I was just leading you on. It's mentioned; it's not the focal point, but it's certainly something that's important.
Q: The focal point will be in the areas of domestic policy?
Q: What was the question?
MS. MYERS: Yes. The question was, is there a trade component, and I said not necessarily, because I opened up talking a little bit about trade. And the second part was -- what was it? Foreign policy. And I said, yes, there is some foreign policy in it, but that's not the focus.
Q: If the President's commitment to deficit reduction didn't change, do you all acknowledge the deficit will begin rising again after the turn of the century because of, among other things, increasing health care costs?
MS. MYERS: We've always pointed to that, that that's a problem.
Q: So, is whatever he's apt to talk about tonight, that's not going to change that equation, right? I mean --
MS. MYERS: No, and again, he's not going to deal with every budget issue and every -- this is not the State of the Union and it's not the budget message; I need to emphasize that.
Q: When he says he's going to pay for it, he would say he's going to pay for it in the context of an inevitable deficit rising in a few years again?
MS. MYERS: Well, if he's going to pay for it, he's going to pay for it. But we're not going to deal with all -- the President has always said that unless we do something about the costs of entitlement, do something about health care, the budget deficit is going to go back up. That has not changed, the President's commitment to doing something about health care has not changed. I think we'll obviously take a different approach than we did last year. But unless you can deal with the rising cost of health care, then you cannot get the deficit under control, and you cannot restore long-term fiscal stability.
Q: Speaking of entitlements, the commission, as we know, didn't -- failed to make anything specific. What happens next, now that the report's being sent to the White House?
MS. MYERS: We'll take a look at it. We'll review it. They just wrapped up their business and we really haven't had a chance to see what they've sent us. Obviously, they didn't get consensus on a lot of the bit things. We've heard from Senator Kerrey and Senator Danforth. I think we've had some comments about the proposal that they outlined last week. But there's nothing new today.
Q: Right. Kerrey informed them that they make the hard decisions. Will that make it any easier --
MS. MYERS: That's why they're the hard decisions. I mean, we've been grappling with that, too.
Q: Kerrey and Danforth have also been very critical of the idea of middle-class tax cut.
MS. MYERS: That's nothing new.
Q: What is the President's definition of the middle class, and is there -- might there be a conflict with Gephardt on that?
MS. MYERS: We have not put a dollar figure on defining the middle class.
Q: A hundred percent of the middle class?
MS. MYERS: I'm not getting into that.
Q: The President says working people. Does that mean anybody who works, or does that mean certain working people.
MS. MYERS: Yeah, well, excluding this crowd here, most people who really do work for a living. Ha-ha.
Q: Republicans claim that without there --
MS. MYERS: It's just a joke, lighten up.
Q: that without their proposal the President would not be considering, let alone about to propose a middle-class tax cut. Their taking credit for this. Do you dispute that?
MS. MYERS: Yes. I think any reading of history over the last three years would certainly lend credence to our dispute of that. The President began talking about a middle class tax cut in 19 -- years ago -- but in his quest for the Presidency in 1991. That is something he's been committed to, something he's worked on, something he's made a down payment on and something he's going to continue to fight for.
Q: Then it is the economy's performance that has enabled him to revisit the question --
MS. MYERS: If you look at -- if you look at what we've done --
Q: rather than the Republicans' idea?
MS. MYERS: Right. And I'm going to answer that. If you look at what's happened over the last two years, the President passed an economic plan and budget in the first year of his Presidency that reduced the -- that made serious and difficult choices. It cut spending and reduced the deficit over five years by $500 billion. That was over $260 billion in spending cuts. As a result, we have the deficit on a downward path for the first time three years in a row since -- who was President --
MS. MYERS: Thank you. The economy is now growing at a very strong pace. We've seen a creation of five million new jobs. We've seen unemployment drop under 6 percent for the first time in a decade. I think all of those point to change the economic circumstances and all of those, I think, are in some ways attributable to the President's commitment to fiscal responsibility. That is fundamentally a different set of circumstances than we saw two years ago. The President said that he was going to restore sound financial practices to our budgeting process. He's done that, he's made a -- certainly made a good installment on doing that and I just think we'll just we'll have to wait to hear from him tonight.
Q: Dee Dee, if that's all the case, why didn't the President give this speech three months ago, and why did the White House decide to attack the Republicans on their contract --
MS. MYERS: Because they --
Q: prior to the election?
MS. MYERS: Because the Republicans made a trillion dollars in promises and without any idea how they're going to pay for them. And they still can't tell you how their going to pay for them. Their going to cut taxes, increase defense spending, balance the budget and no one has -- I mean, can any of you tell us how their going to pay that? That's what we attacked for. We didn't attack them -- certainly, balancing the budget is a noble goal. That's why this President has worked so hard to try to balance the budget.
Q: Why didn't the President offer this speech three months ago, five months ago, six months ago --
MS. MYERS: Because we
Q: when it was clear that the economy --
MS. MYERS: No. We weren't in the midst of a budgeting process. You know, we are doing this in the midst of a process where we're going to identify very specific spending cuts, we're going to continue down a track toward deficit reduction. You can go out there and make promises off the top of your hat, or you can sit down and try to do the fiscally responsible and right thing, which is to pay for the kind of promises that you make. This administration has not given you inflated and phony budget numbers. They haven't given you promises we can't pay for -- haven't given you tax cuts and balance budget notions without saying how we're going to get there. And I think the President ought to get some credit for that.
Q: Does the President wish he had made this speech three months ago?
MS. MYERS: We're in the midst of a process now to identify how we're going to pay for it. The President made it very clear that he wasn't going to promise everything to people that he couldn't pay for; that he was going to maintain his commitment to deficit reduction and to fiscal responsibility. I don't think you can say that about the other guys.
Q: Has he made all the decisions he has to make for the speech tonight?
MS. MYERS: Yes. Has he made all the decisions that he has to make? I don't think he's finished the final language, but -- and I think he'll be working on that this afternoon.
Q: Are you going to eliminate government agencies, Dee Dee?
MS. MYERS: Tune in, 9:00 p.m. Thank you.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 2:21 P.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/269639