New Spending in State of the Union, Bradley Manning and Visitors, Help to Russia, and the Debt Commission: Today’s Q’s for O’s WH – 1/24/11

Jan 24, 2011 1:48pm

TAPPER: If the president, as the people — senior administration officials have talked about some of the things that are going to be in the speech that — with us, with the Democratic consultants.  I understand you're not going to get into the details of that. But if the president is –

GIBBS:  What?                                                                                

TAPPER: If — the president has been talking for months about the competitiveness agenda, investments in infrastructure, in education, in innovation.  If the president has been calling for that, which are spending programs, would it not be responsible to offset that spending with cuts elsewhere, if the president is concerned about the debt —  the debt and deficit, as he also has said, including in his Saturday address just before this?                                                               

GIBBS:  I think that you'll find that what you just said isn't going to be — won't be contradicted in the speech.                             

TAPPER:  A quick question about Bradley Manning, the — suspected of leaking information.  Is the administration satisfied that he's being kept in conditions that are appropriate for his accused crime and that visitors to Bradley Manning are treated as any visitors to any prison are treated?                 

GIBBS:  I haven't — I — you know, truthfully, Jake, have not heard a lot of discussion on that inside of here.  I'm happy to take a look at something.  In terms of a specific question about that, I think that I would direct you to the authorities that are holding him.

TAPPER  And last question, a follow-up on the statement you read from the president on the terrorist attack in Moscow.  Has the president been in touch with Medvedev or Putin or –                                   

GIBBS:  Not that I'm aware of at this point.  If a call in the schedule is layered on, we will — we will let you know.                                                                                                                                  

TAPPER:  Will the U.S. extend assistance in the investigation?                    

GIBBS:  Absolutely.  As I said earlier, any assistance that the government of Russia needs or wants, we certainly stand ready to help — to help them.                                                             


TAPPER: I have a quick follow-up.  Some of the harshest critics to the Bowles-Simpson commission were Democrats — Nancy Pelosi and others.  Does part of having that conversation include President Obama getting his own party to be prepared to have a serious conversation?

GIBBS:  Jake, I don't — I think that the president would likely tell you that one group in — one group in a party, or one party alone, is not going to come to a series of decisions that allow us to solve this problem.  We didn't get into this overnight; we didn't get into this because of one set of ideas.  And it's going to take working together to get out of it.

TAPPER: But the Bowles-Simpson commission very specifically, in terms of Social Security reform, talked about increasing benefits for poorer seniors and then means testing benefits for older seniors.  That became, in the mouths of Capitol Hill Democrats, “This commission wants to cut Social Security.” I didn't hear a word from the president in terms of their unfair characterization of the recommendations.                                                                                                                     

GIBBS:  I'm not going to get into the specifics of what is or what isn't in the speech.                                                           

-Jake Tapper

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