Today’s Qs for O’s WH – 1/11/10

Jan 11, 2010 2:00pm

TAPPER:  On — in the middle of December, OMB put out a memo to all federal agencies about how to calculate the stimulus, how to calculate jobs created and saved, saying that, among other things, it would be quarterly instead of updated more — more frequently than that and that also that if somebody were paid — even two employees of a library, who were already working there, are paid with stimulus dollars, those two individuals — that should count jobs created by or saved by the stimulus, even if those jobs existed already. Do you have any further explanation about why this kind of…
  
GIBBS:  I haven't seen the memo, but I'm happy to talk to them and put you in touch with them.  I haven't seen the memo and don't know what the details are.

  
TAPPER:  OK. To follow up on a question I asked last week about the freeing of Qays Khazali, do you have any more on that?
 
GIBBS:  No, I don't.

**

BILL PRESS: Robert, I think the question some labor leaders are asking is that during the campaign, candidate Obama accused candidate John McCain of wanting to tax Cadillac health plans and said "McCain will and I won't."  So why the change…
  
(CROSSTALK)
  
GIBBS:  But understand — no, no — but understand, because I know you paid attention extensively during the campaign. Understand — remember what John McCain wanted to do, right?  Any plan was a Cadillac plan because we were taking the tax deductibility of health care out, away, right?  And that was going to be met — that would be fulfilling your health care needs by handing you a $2,000 voucher if you were an individual, or a $5,000 voucher if you were a family.
  
Now, we've had a long discussion about health care in this country over the past eight or nine months.  We're not talking about $2,000 insurance plans.  We're not talking about $5,000 insurance plans for families of four.  There's a difference between what the president has supported, which is at a $23,000 level taxing an insurance company that offers a plan in excess of that amount, versus what John McCain proposed, which was to end the tax deductibility completely for health care that's provided in this country.I think they're fundamentally different — well, I don't think it, they are fundamentally different ideas.
  
TAPPER:  "If you’re one of the steelworkers who are working" — this is Obama…
  
GIBBS:  Yes.
  
TAPPER:  "… what if you're one of the steelworkers who are working right here in Newport News and you've given up wage increases in exchange for better health care?"
  
GIBBS:  I read that on your blog, too.  It's — what I'm — the point — the point I just made to Bill is the same.  There's a difference between…
  
TAPPER:  It's not inconsistent?

  
GIBBS:  It's not inconsistent because what he was talking about is two fundamentally different things. Removing the tax deductibility of any part of your health care and capping for — taxing insurance companies that offer a health care plan in excess of a $23,000 limit, they're not in the same ballpark. They're not in the same state.

  
MAJOR GARRETT, FOX NEWS:  But you don't dispute the point about the here and now point that the unions make that one in four of their rank-and-file workers could be affected by the tax structure in the Senate bill negatively.  You don't dispute that do you?

GIBBS:  And that's something I'm sure will come up in the president's meeting today.
  
GARRETT: But just to try to tease that out.
  
GIBBS:  The notion that somehow what the…
  
(CROSSTALK)
  
GIBBS:  No, no…
  
GARRETT:  You acknowledge that that's an implication of the Senate bill.
  
GIBBS:  If you will acknowledge that what — what the president has talked about and supports and making the point that somehow that's analogous to what he opposed with Senator McCain's proposal isn't also close to being reality, right?
  
GARRETT:  Sure.  I mean — but I've never — I've not gone down that road.  I'm just asking…
  
(CROSSTALK)
  
GIBBS:  No, no, but in the event that you were to travel down that road.
  
(LAUGHTER)
  
I'm…
  
(CROSSTALK)
  
GIBBS:  Major doesn't do hypotheticals.  Right.  Yes.
  
GARRETT:  Thank you.  But you're saying…
  
GIBBS:  Your spokesperson there saved you on that one.
  
TAPPER:  You're saying the president would abide by basically what he said in the campaign, which is those workers who did negotiate so that they had better health care instead of wage increases, they would not be impacted?
  
GIBBS:  That's something they're going to discuss today.

-jpt

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