Today’s Q for O’s WH – 2/25/2009

Feb 25, 2009 2:24pm

TAPPER: The president laid out a very ambitious plan when it came to energy, health care and education, and I know he alluded to things that are in the budget and talked about requesting legislation on cap-and-trade.But could you lay out in just a little bit more detail, how this is all going to play out, what the president wants to see Congress bring up and how he’s going to try to get this agenda through Congress over the next few months or years?

GIBBS:  Well, there’s a — there’s also I think a meeting here this afternoon with Democratic congressional leaders to talk about the focus of the next work period in Congress.  Obviously I think a big load of that will be the budget and the outline that the president will send up to Capitol Hill in the next 24 hours or so that begins to invest in those things that you mentioned — in affordable health care, in lessening our dependence on foreign oil or reforming our educational system so that our children can compete in the 21st century. I think each has different components, and each has different wants and needs from legislators on Capitol Hill.  Obviously, I think the president alluded to the fact that health care, he was under no illusions that it would be difficult and obviously it will go through many committees on Capitol Hill.But he understands the only way to do that is bring together the stakeholders on both sides of the aisle, business and labor, doctors, providers.  That process will begin next week here to discuss health care reform.I know there are different proposals on Capitol Hill regarding energy legislation, including cap and trade, and there’ll be elements both in the budget and forthcoming after the budget in terms of legislation to deal with some reforms in our public education system. I would point out, as the president did last night, we made important down payments on each of those investments in the recovery and reinvestment plan, whether it was through medical technology that will reduce errors and result in better quality and outcomes in our health care, in investment in doubling our renewable energy output in three years, as well as a commitment to build and refurbish schools that will result in the 21st century classrooms that our children so richly deserve.

TAPPER:  Just to briefly follow up.  Does the president anticipate shuffling money around under each of these headlines?  I mean, in terms of education, not spending more money on education but just spending it differently…
GIBBS:  Well…
TAPPER:  … or is there going to be a definite…
GIBBS:  Yes.
TAPPER:  … additional hundreds of billions of dollars?
GIBBS:  Well, we’ll have more details on the budget soon, which will give you the short answer on that.  Obviously, again, I would point out that some of that — some of those investments have come through the recovery and reinvestment plan that will create that foundation for economic growth.

– jpt

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