Today's Qs for O's WH - 3/12/2009

GIBBS: Jake, happy birthday.

TAPPER:  Thank you.  Yesterday, in an interview with a bunch of regional newspapers, President Obama suggested that congressional Republicans needed to do more than just say no to what the president and Democrats were proposing.  They needed to present alternatives when it comes to stimulating the economy. How does the president reconcile that with the meeting he had with bicameral, bipartisan congressional leaders in, I think, January where House Republicans gave the president a list of ideas and the president said, "I don't see anything crazy on this list," but few of them, if any, were incorporated into the stimulus.  It seems that there's a disconnect.

GIBBS:  Is this -- are you talking about the meeting that we went to before the president was sworn in, in early January?

TAPPER:  Whenever he told Congressman Cantor..(crosstalk)....Cantor gave him a list of -- of things and said -- of suggestions, things they wanted to see in the stimulus.  The president said, "I don't see anything crazy on this list," but the Republicans say none of them were -- or few of them were incorporated into the stimulus bill.

GIBBS:  Right.  I do think -- I think, if you go back and look at the bill, I do think, as you just mentioned, some of their ideas were incorporated.  The earlier meeting that we did on Capitol Hill had -- had the same congressman, Eric Cantor, suggesting that, in order for the American people to see transparently what the administration was spending the taxpayer money on for economic recovery, that a Web site be created so that the public could track that funding.  That's exactly what the administration has done. And I made a similar argument here yesterday, not just on recovery, but on the budget.  We have members of Congress rightly concerned about the growth of deficits and debt, yet at the same time the -- one of the primary drivers of a deficit and a debt are our obligations to Medicare, and Medicaid, and health care spending.     If they're concerned about the deficit, the best way to exercise that concern, if you're critical of what the administration has proposed, would be to come up with, as I said yesterday, an honest budgeting document that pays for both wars, that pays -- takes into account natural disasters or future money for economic and financial stability, and does so in a way that demonstrates clearly for the American people that you're putting this country back on a path towards fiscal responsibility and fiscal sustainability. Certainly the president would welcome looking at -- the administration, I'm sure all of Congress would welcome looking at a document very similar to that. TAPPER:  If the president incorporated some of -- if the Democrats on Capitol Hill and the president incorporated some of the Republican ideas, Why would the president say the Republican Party is a party of no -- no ideas?     GIBBS:  Well, I -- I do think you've heard, certainly, recently a lot more criticism than you've heard suggestions.  I think you've -- I think the obligation of anybody involved -- I'll quote my friend, Warren Buffett, again, that he certainly made mention of the fact that Democrats and Republicans, because of the gravity of the situation and the many challenges that we face, should work together.  I think working together would include sharing ideas on -- on both sides of the aisle about what has to be done. There's, you know, co-equal branches of government.  I think it's important that everybody be involved in a healthy debate about the solutions that might surround a recovery plan and how to get our economy growing for the long term. -- jpt

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