Remember Obama's promise to go line by line through spending bills? Never mind
Robert, on the stimulus package, the president yesterday told a closed-door meeting of House Republicans that there was spending in the bill that he didn't like. And, obviously, he took action calling Congressman Waxman to remove the part having to do with the birth control. Now, there is a $335 million provision about education for sexually transmitted diseases. There still is in the bill $50 million funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. And that's the House, and I understand your emphasis is in the Senate, but in the Senate there are earmarked projects as well: $70 million for a supercomputer for NOAA, $75 million for education for smoking cessation. President Obama can tell these Democratic senators and members of the House, "Take this stuff out of the bill." He obviously did so with Congressman Waxman. Why doesn't he do it for all these earmarks?There is no way anyone has done a line by line analysis of this bill in the White House. If they had, they would not be blindsided by all the embarrassing details that are slipping out about this bill. There evidently was an early expiration date on the promise for a line by line analysis of spending.
GIBBS: Well, let me -- let me talk a little bit about what he said yesterday at -- at these meetings, because he said that there's -- there's no doubt this will produce a process whereby every person does not like 100 percent of every part of the bill, that that would be true whether Democrats were writing the bill or Republicans were writing the bill. And he said that to two rooms full of Republicans, of which I think there was pretty broad agreement.This is a process based on a series of principles and framework that -- that our economic team and the president sent to Capitol Hill to create a plan that we believe will move this economy along. I -- I know there is a tendency -- and there always will be -- to focus on, as I mentioned yesterday, 0.02 percent of a piece of legislation. I have a hard time believing that the 0.98 percent of the other 99 percent aren't the large focus of members of Congress that are going to vote both today and over the course of the next few weeks.
TAPPER: President Obama had no problem calling for Chairman Waxman and telling him to remove a 0.02 percent from the bill when he saw that it was a hurdle.
GIBBS: But, again, let's focus on the larger picture. Let's focus on the fact that we have $275 billion in tax cuts to put money directly into the pockets of hard-working Americans that will spend that money and get our economy moving again. Let's focus on the fact that there's $550 billion in spending that will put people back to work. But as we get focused on this number and that number, and 0.02 percent, and all this kind of stuff, (emphasis added) understand what we've seen in just the last 48 hours: 70,000 people, since Monday, have gotten pink slips from the companies that they work for, right? The unemployment figures that came out just yesterday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found every state in the countries -- every state in the country saw job loss, every state in the country. The layoffs continue today with Boeing announcing an additional 10,000 jobs that will be shed over the course of the year.
TAPPER: But that's precisely my point. Wouldn't it better to take that $75 million, instead of sending it to a smoking cessation program, to send it to these people that are out of work?
GIBBS: Well, I -- I think the vast majority, the great bulk of that bill does exactly that. We hope that Republicans and Democrats alike look at not just whatever page you're focusing on, but whatever other pages they've decided not to focus on, and understand that the program that is being crafted -- and it will change. (Emphasis added) This is -- there's a great tendency -- and we've done this over the last few days in this room -- to try to figure out what the score of the baseball game is after the third inning, OK? My team would probably be great if we stopped doing that. This is a long process that we hope is concluded by Presidents Day recess, because -- and the president heard this from CEOs today -- we can't afford to wait. We have to act....