Today’s Q’s for O’s WH — 3/13/2009

By Lindsey Ellerson

Mar 13, 2009 4:05pm

TAPPER:  The White House has been critical in the last day or so of President Obama yesterday and Larry Summers today of trends of bubble and bust, bubble and bust.  When do you guys see this having starting?  Did this start with the dot-com bubble in the ’90s?

GIBBS:  Well, I — I think, obviously, the tech bubble would certainly be part of that — would be part of that model. But I think, if you look more recently with both housing and credit cards, what you saw was statistical economic growth.  You saw big growth in the stock market.  But at the same time, the broad number for a broad swathe of the American public, their incomes actually decreased for the very first time in history during a quote, unquote, "economic expansion." That’s why the president believes that it’s important to make investments in health care, energy independence, and education in order to provide a foundation to grow our economy long term in a stable — with a stable foundation, in a way that doesn’t depend on the boom and the bust.

TAPPER:  And then just as a quick follow-up, you’re — you guys have obviously started a campaign of trying to build more confidence in the economy and in the decisions that you guys have made.  Can you just walk us through a little bit how this decision was made for the president’s new language and Larry Summers’ new language, talking about the economy and the investments you guys are making?
   
GIBBS:  Well, I think it’s important — the president wanted to, as he, I think, has done in the beginning of his tenure here and certainly in the campaign to explain to the American people the choices that we have and the — the decisions that are being made where we’ve started, the challenges that we’ve gone through to get to the point we’re at now, the very complicated and tough decisions that we have to make in order to create jobs, stabilize our financial system, prevent further erosion in the housing market and spread of the home foreclosure crisis.

TAPPER:  Right.  But only in the last day has he said things aren’t as bad — things weren’t as good as we thought they were a few years ago, and they’re not as bad now as we think they are, you know, which is kind of a change in tone from when he was warning of an economic catastrophe if the stimulus bill didn’t pass.
   
GIBBS:  Well, I think we’ve seen some glimmers of hope, in terms — as I spoke yesterday — of — of retail sales.  And I think Dr. Summers spoke of the notion that — that through the recovery we might see progress in terms of consumer spending — the recovery act, I’m sorry. Look, as you note, the president is — is a very optimistic person by nature.
   
TAPPER:  I don’t think I noted that.
   
(LAUGHTER)

GIBBS:  Well, I will note in your absence that he’s a very optimistic person.  I think he would tell you that there are many situations that probably — where things might not always be as bad as they seem or not as good as they may seem. But I think that’s why he’s decided to make tough decisions and that’s why the argument that he’s made over the last few days and Dr. Summers made of the importance of making these investments. Many people have asked, you know, well, why are you dealing with health care and energy when you should be working on the economy?  I think the president through this argument can very clearly demonstrate for people how dealing with many of these problems, including getting us back on that path toward fiscal sustainability, are important not in just a short-term recovery, but laying that foundation for long- term growth.

- jpt

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