Today’s Q’s for O’s WH – 6/18/2009

Jun 18, 2009 4:00pm

TAPPER: We've talked about this before a little bit, but there's been more recent polling indicating that while President Obama's personal popularity is still quite strong, there are concerns among the American people and less support for some of his policies, specifically his economic policies, whether it's spending proposals, the bailout of the auto industry, the deficit, stimulus package. And I'm wondering what you think is going on, whether you're — you guys haven't made your argument as well as you could, or what exactly the dynamic is that Americans, although still a majority supporting the president on some of these economic policies, seem to — there seems to be something of an ebb.

GIBBS:  Well, look, I think — I think — I think you can look at recent polling from the past day or so.  You can go back a week or so. I think the American people are rightly frustrated with where the economy is and how we ended up where we did. I think the American people and the president both are greatly concerned about the deficit.  I think that, you know, look, numbers in different questions bounce around.  But when you look at something like the auto industry — I mean, look, the president knew that wasn't a decision that was based off of something that was wildly popular.
But the president believed it was something important to do to ensure the viability of an American auto industry; to ensure that towns and communities and companies had a chance to thrive again.  And thought it was part of — part of what we had to do to get our economy back on track.  Some of those things are popular.
Some of those things aren't popular.  I think the president would tell you that he's going to do what he thinks is in the best interest of the American economy.  Some of those things will be, as I said, more popular than others.  But, look, I think the American people are rightly anxious and concerned about the economy, just as the president is.
TAPPER:  Just one other question:  There seems to be some wrangling right now between the Treasury Department and the special inspector general of TARP, Neil Barofsky, about how independent Barofsky's office SIGTARP is.  And based on a letter that Senator Grassley sent, and response from Special Inspector General Barofsky, it seems like the independence of his office has been challenged.  He hasn't been able to get all the documents he's wanted from the Treasury Department.  And Grassley even suggested that an outside agency has been — or an outside entity of some sort — has been asked to weigh in.  Can you tell us what exactly is going on?
GIBBS:  I have not seen Senator Grassley's letter.  So I'm not — I'm not as familiar with that.  I will look into it.  I know the president is — has talked about whether it's in recovery or TARP or other programs, making sure — ensuring that there is the type of accountability that Americans expect when we're using their tax dollars.  So let me take a look at it.

TAPPER:  So Special Inspector Barofsky should be able to get whatever documents he needs.
GIBBS:  I think we want to ensure that there's sufficient accountability. I don't know any of the details on this, but let me check.
TAPPER:  OK.  Thanks.

– jpt

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