Today’s Q for O’s WH – 3/9/2009

Mar 9, 2009 2:41pm

TAPPER:  Mr. Gibbs, two questions.  First, Chinese vessels have been harassing U.S. ships with increasing aggressiveness.  I know that the Chinese Defense Attaché went to the Pentagon or is at the Pentagon right now to review a complaint.  But is the president taking any other action regarding the Chinese government to tell them to stop doing this?

GIBBS:  Right.  I know that our embassy in both Beijing and here protested the actions of the Chinese ships that have been reported. Our ships, obviously, operate fairly regularly in international waters where these incidents took place.  We’re going to continue to operate in those international waters, and we expect the Chinese to observe international law around that.   

TAPPER:  And the second question.  Mr. Warren Buffett, who I guess you could say is an informal adviser to the president, was — did an interview this morning.  And he had, obviously, many fine things to say about the president, but he did say two things, and I was wondering about your reaction. One, he referred to the cap-and-trade as an aggressive tax that consumers will ultimately pay for — pay for.  And then, two, he said that the message, the economic message that the world was getting from this administration was, quote, "muddled."  I was just wondering if you had a reaction to either of those.

GIBBS:  Well, I’d — I — I would — I think I’d point you back to the transcript of Mr. Buffett in terms of your second question. I’m not entirely sure that the message wasn’t directed at Washington writ large.  And I think…

TAPPER:  But aren’t you Washington writ large?

GIBBS:  I think we dispensed with that several hundred years ago in a revolution.  But, no, obviously, there’s 535, plus the administration, that regularly are asked and share their opinions related to the economy. You know, I think that, you know, many of the things that — that Mr. Buffett said the administration would understand and agree with, particularly I think the story — stories that I read this morning talked about the notion that Mr. Buffett said Democrats and Republicans are going to have to get along and work together in order to get the country out of this economic mess, that — and I don’t — this is me saying this, not him.  I don’t want to paraphrase what he said, but I think the administration would believe that saying no isn’t an economic policy.

TAPPER:  What about the cap-and-trade being regressive?

GIBBS:  Well, let me finish this one first.  I think Mr. Buffett also said that we’re not likely to fix this in five minutes.  I don’t think we’re likely to fix this in six weeks and six days, that the — the depth of the challenges that we face, as made even more apparent on Friday with rising unemployment figures, denote the urgency of this problem and the urgency with which the president pursued a recovery plan. Now, in terms of cap-and-trade, the president and the administration look forward to working with Congress to put a solution together, a market-based solution that will drive us to energy independence and create a market for — an even more robust market for alternative fuels and, as I said, the steps that we need to become energy independent. You know, it’s — this is a process that rewards the invasion of the market, a principle that many previously have espoused.

– jpt

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