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September 2 White House Press Briefing

By The White House, The White House - September 2, 2010

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

* The President spoke with FEMA Administrator Fugate today at 1:15p.m.EDT about Hurricane Earl.

* The President was briefed on the oil platform fire in the Gulf and the government response today by Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan. 

12:20 P.M. EDT

MR. GIBBS:  Good afternoon.  Let me begin with one just quick statement on Hurricane Earl.

The President is closely monitoring and aggressively preparing for the storm as it continues to head toward the East Coast.  On its current track, Hurricane Earl could approach the coast of North Carolina by late tonight or early Friday morning.

Last night the President signed a pre-landfall emergency declaration for the state of North Carolina, ensuring the state has what it needs beforehand.  And FEMA has already moved teams and supplies into states along the East Coast to provide support and resources as needed.

As you know, yesterday Administrator Fugate provided the President with an update, and FEMA is in close contact and coordination with the governors and their teams up and down the eastern seaboard to ensure that they have the support they need should the storm make landfall later tonight or tomorrow.

I do expect that the President will speak with the FEMA administrator again today, and we will let you know when that happens.*

Yes, ma’am.

Q    The Mideast.  Do you have any sort of update to offer on how the talks are going so far?

MR. GIBBS:  Well, let me give you just a little bit from -- well, obviously, as you all know, the talks are ongoing.  We expect that at some point, I would say in the next hour or so, Senator Mitchell, our special envoy for Middle East peace, will conduct a briefing on what has transpired today.

I would say that the President was encouraged in his meetings yesterday by the very serious attitude that each of the leaders brought about these talks and about a long-term lasting peace for the Middle East.  All view this as a tremendously important opportunity.  I think you all saw the pictures last evening and the powerful statements that were made by the leaders in the Middle East. 

I would also say that the President, as he did in the Rose Garden yesterday afternoon, remind everyone that there are still deep divisions.  There are still years of mistrust to overcome.  That’s not going to be wiped away in one meeting or in one day, and we understand that.

The failure, though -- the failure to try is not something the President wants to do.

Q    It seems like one of those deep divisions that you speak of is Hamas.  How does the administration plan to deal with them?  They don’t recognize Israel.  They’re promising more attacks.

MR. GIBBS:  I’m sorry --

Q    Is there a plan for dealing with Hamas?

MR. GIBBS:  Well, look, why don’t I defer questions about what transpired today in the talks until Senator Mitchell has an opportunity to answer some of those questions at the conclusion of the meetings today.  All right?

Yes, sir.

Q    Robert, a question about Christy Romer’s remarks yesterday.  She said -- I have it in front of me -- “The only surefire ways for policymakers to substantially increase aggregate demand in the short run are for the government to spend more and tax less.  In my view, we should be moving forward in both fronts.”

That sounds like setting a stage for a second stimulus.

MR. GIBBS:  Well, let me -- I’ll be somewhat broad in my answer and a little -- let’s go back to -- well, both what the President said and what I said on Monday.  And I think the actions and the steps that this administration has taken over the course of the past two years -- first and foremost, the President is -- and the team are looking at ideas.  And he enumerated some of those parameters, including infrastructure.  And certainly in terms of cutting taxes, there’s a bill pending before the United States Senate that the President -- you’ve heard the President speak on many occasions that would, indeed, cut taxes on small business. 

I think if you look at -- if you go back to a year ago, outside of the Recovery Act, we pursued and the President signed legislation that enabled Cash for Clunkers.  The President spoke in December of last year about targeted measures that can be taken to help the recovery.  Those have included the bipartisan HIRE Act, which helps cut taxes for those that do add employees.  We have expanded -- we’ve given states more money to ensure that things like teachers and firefighters weren’t laid off.  We’ve expanded and continued unemployment insurance, and a small business bill has passed the House.

So look, we will continue to look at and take steps that are, as I talked about on Monday, that are targeted in nature, to help continue the recovery and to help create an environment where the private sector is adding jobs.

Q    I think we are all aware of the steps that have been taken.  What Dr. Romer seems to be saying here is that a lot more spending needs to come to make this economic recovery increase.

MR. GIBBS:  Again, I would -- I’d point you to what the President said on Monday.  I don’t think that is -- I don’t think that is -- I think -- I would -- again, I would point you to what the President said is -- as ideas that are being looked at.  And as I said here on Monday, some big new stimulus plan is not in the offing.

Q    How would you interpret, then, what she said?

MR. GIBBS:  Again, I would interpret what she said to be very much in line with what the President said on Monday.

Q    Following on that, on jobs, what does the President expect out of the jobless numbers tomorrow?  And has the economic team come up with some of those new ideas that you talked about?

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