Today’s Qs for O’s WH – 5/27/2009

By Caitlin Taylor

May 27, 2009 2:09pm

TAPPER:  A couple questions.  First of all, a lot of public officials have been complaining that the stimulus dollars just aren’t getting out to the states and cities quickly enough. In addition, the president made a pretty big deal about going to Columbus, Ohio and talking about the stimulus dollars saving some cadets’ jobs.  But now Columbus is talking about raising taxes from 2 percent to 2.5 percent. And if they don’t do this additional revenue, they’re going to have to lay off some of those cadets specifically.  And I’m wondering if you think that in any way you guys oversold, or the American people got a misimpression about how quickly the stimulus was going to take effect?

GIBBS:  No.  In fact, I think you guys asked me about why — why only 75 to 80 percent of it would spent in two years, right?  So, look, our focus is on trying to get as much money out the door as quickly as humanly possible, while ensuring that there isn’t waste; that projects that don’t need to be funded take up money that can and should be going to other projects.

I think — and I don’t have some of the numbers in front of me — but we’ve funded thousands of road projects that will create jobs. The president has — a lot of money clearly has gone out the door to states and localities dealing with things, like, unemployment insurance which are tremendously important right now.

There is no doubt that many states across the country are facing increasingly difficult economic times.  The president understands, and is aware of that.  One of the reasons that we had an increase in money going directly to those states was to try to help those problems.

In terms of the police in Columbus, you know, the president remains committed to that.  We’ve actually — there’s certainly money in the budget to continue to hire police.  But we also understand that, you know, the stimulus — the recovery plan is a temporary — it’s a temporary infusion of money into the system.  There are long- term budget problems in states and localities are certainly going to have to be addressed. We’re monitoring those.  The president is doing — and the administration continues to do all that they can to get money out as quickly as humanly possible.

TAPPER:  OK, and just a separate question.  Today in California, Ted Olson, the former solicitor general for President Bush, and David Boies are introducing a lawsuit against the state of California saying that by denying same-sex couples the right to marry, the ability to marry, they are violating the equal protection rights under the U.S. Constitution for same-sex couples.   Why are they wrong?

GIBBS:  I’m — am not — I have not read the opinion or…

TAPPER:  It supports the idea that people should be able — that same-sex couples should be able to enter into civil unions. Boies and Olson, you know, a very conservative lawyer, are saying that is a violation…
GIBBS:  Olson.:  Not Boies, right?  Olson.
TAPPER: …Olson, a very conservative lawyer, saying that is a violation of the Constitution.  It is also the position the president holds, that there should be civil unions, not same-sex marriage.  Why is it not a violation of the equal protection clause?

GIBBS:  Well, Jake, let me have somebody take a look at the pleading that they’re going to make.  I don’t know what — what they’re arguing…
TAPPER: I’m talking in general.  Forget the specific argument. I’m just talking about their general argument is that by having — by not allowing same-sex couples to marry, it is a violation of equal protection.
GIBBS:  Again…
TAPPER:  That’s the president’s position, so…

GIBBS:  Well, let me — let me — well, the president’s position we’re all aware of.  I hesitate to be general about the legal underpinnings of an argument based on some portion of the Constitution.  I think that may be somewhat hard to generalize.  So let me have somebody take a look at that and see if we have anything based on what Mr. Olsen and Mr. Boies are doing.

- jpt

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