Today’s Qs for O’s WH – 2/4/2010

By Lindsey Ellerson

Feb 4, 2010 5:39pm

TAPPER:  In the supplemental document "Analytical Perspectives Of The President's Budget," unemployment figures that the administration's projecting are pretty bleak.  It's 10 percent for the rest of this year, 9.2 percent next year, 8.2 percent in 2012.  First of all, these are pretty — these are pretty bleak figures. I'm wondering if you have a response to these numbers. And then second of all, does this count factoring in a jobs bill or not?
GIBBS:  Let me ask specifically the second part of your question to OMB and CEA. They are sad and sobering numbers, felt each and every day by the American people.  We'll get new jobs numbers tomorrow. There will be a jobs revision, I'm told, tomorrow that's likely to show additional job loss at the first part of — of the recession that started in December of 2007, making the hole that — the whole of job loss that we've dealt with even deeper. We didn't — as I've said here countless times, we didn't get here overnight.  We won't get out of that hole overnight.  It will take a concerted effort by the president and Congress working tougher, both parties, to strengthen our foundation and to create jobs moving forward that's not predicated on risky lending or housing speculation or running up massive debt on credit cards. We've got to create jobs in the new industries of clean energy, clean energy manufacturing, so that we don't finish second place to the Chinese or the Indians in creating those new jobs.

TAPPER:  Also, the numbers don't show the unemployment rate over the next decade going to even where they were in 2007 when the president announced he was running for this office at all. They stop at 5.2 percent, but they never get down to below 5 percent, which is where they were when the president announced. Why — I mean, this just seems an incredibly bleak outlook on — on the unemployment problems in this country.
GIBBS:  Well, again, we've lost — before the — before the revisions tomorrow, the recession has cost of 7 million jobs.  I'll bring an update, the graph that I brought out here a few times that show the sheer depth of job loss over the many months of the recession. Look, I think, if you go back and look at — there was an article, I think, around the Christmas holidays that demonstrated that roughly — there had been very little to no job growth in the past decade. So we've got to figure out how to create economic growth and ultimately create jobs in an economy that isn't dependent upon the examples that I used a minute ago, easy credit that allows housing speculation, or people that can or — can get but shouldn't get loans to buy houses.

TAPPER:  These numbers are more bleak than other numbers you guys have put out before.  I mean, these are — these are much more pessimistic than previous predictions.
GIBBS:  Well, again, understand that when we walked in at the beginning of the administration, no one presumed that 741,000 would be the number of jobs lost in January of — of 2009. And, certainly, if you average what is — what happened in that first quarter of 2009, an average of about 700,000 jobs — 700,000 jobs a month for each of the three months of that quarter, understanding this, that the — I don't have the figures right in front of me, but the — the economic growth for that first quarter was -6.4 percent.  The previous quarter was, I believe — and I'm doing this largely off the top of my head — -5.5 percent.
We hadn't had consecutive quarters of such economic retraction since the Great Depression.  So we've got a tremendous hole to fill in.  And I think that's why the president spent a majority of his State of the Union speech asking that Congress — each party work together with the other to move forward on creating — helping to create jobs, on assuring that stronger and new foundation.  And I think that's most what the American people want to see out of their government right now.
TAPPER:  Just a follow-up:  I've asked you guys a few times what the president was referring to when he spoke to the Republican — in the Republican Conference on Friday, he talked about stray cats and dogs getting into the health care reform legislation that would prevent patients from being able to choose their plan, choose their doctor, even though that has been a White House pledge. Have you guys made any progress on finding out what he was talking about?

GIBBS:  I — I don't know if Bill got that question yesterday. I'll have to look through it.
TAPPER:  You didn't watch Bill when he did his…
GIBBS:  I did watch most of it.  I couldn't — I notice, when you watch it on TV, you can't always hear the questions.


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