TAPPER: First of all, it appears as though you have the votes to ratify START. And I was wondering — it didn't necessarily appear that way days, weeks ago — or weeks, if not days ago. What made the difference?
GIBBS: I think, in all honesty, I think people have had an opportunity to — to focus on what's in the treaty. I think they've had an opportunity to focus on those that are supporting the treaty and listen to — listen to Chairman Mullen, Secretary Gates, Jim Baker, George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, and others; make, I think, a very compelling case, along with the president and the vice president, for why this enhances our security, why it does nothing to impact or inhibit our ability to defend ourselves in any way — as Senator Isakson said in a statement released just a few moments ago announcing his support for ratification of this treaty.
I think that — I think people understand that it is — our reductions in these are legacies of — of many presidents, including former President Ronald Reagan. And it makes our world safer. It provides, as we've talked about in here, an inspection regime with the Russians. It doesn't inhibit our ability to protect ourselves using missile defense, and promotes our security and stability in the world.
TAPPER: We're approaching the end of the year, and the president may be departing for Hawaii soon. Do you have any hints as to staff changes that might happen that you have been putting off until the end of the year?
GIBBS: No. I — I — I don't expect you'll hear a lot before the end of the year.
TAPPER: And, then, lastly, as you know, there is a group of unemployed who have called themselves the 99ers…
TAPPER: … they're individuals who have been — who's unemployment insurance has run out. They were not included in the deal, the tax deal that the president signed with Mr. McConnell, the Republicans and others. Is there anything that the president can do for them?
GIBBS: Well, I think the best thing that we can do as a country is to get — get a fragile economy more stable, and one that creates more jobs. I think that's — that's why I think, you know, economists said that they would reorient their growth estimates based on the agreement that the president signed. And obviously, the best thing we can do for them is to create an environment where businesses are hiring. Look, we have — what you've heard me say on a number of occasions, that one of the great benefits of the agreement was taking the politics out of — out of unemployment insurance. We — we — we have — it's been a contentious battle just to get unemployment insurance to continue up to 99 weeks. It's not — it's not in any way been easy. And this takes the politics out of that throughout 2011 and hopefully we can focus — continue to focus on getting the economy moving again and providing — providing those guys with a helping hand with a job.
TAPPER: May I just ask a quick question about net neutrality?
TAPPER: The FCC has this — this proposal. Does the president support a plan that, according to critics, would allow a carrier, such as Verizon or — or any other carrier, to block users from using a service that competes with a service they offer? For instance, if Verizon…
GIBBS: I know the FCC as an independent agency is voting on this and the president will have a statement at the conclusion of that vote on their proposal.