washingtonpost.com
Gibbs Responds to News of Shooting at Holocaust Museum
White House Press Briefing, June 10, 2009

CQ Transcripts Wire
Wednesday, June 10, 2009 2:55 PM

GIBBS: All right. Take you seats. Settle down. (inaudible) sometimes like a zoo in here, Mr. Secretary.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

GIBBS: Huh?

(LAUGHTER)

Again, in my endeavoring pursuit to bring you special guests, today obviously we have the secretary of commerce, Gary Locke, who's going to talk to you guys and give you a little bit of an update on the impending deadline for the transition for digital television, which takes place at the end of this week.

So, Mr. Secretary?

LOCKE: Thank you. Thank you, Robert.

And today I'm here to remind Americans about the impending national switch to digital television. It's just two days away, Friday, June 12th.

In February, President Obama signed the DTV Delay Act, which set June 12th as the final deadline for television broadcasters to transition from analogue to digital signals.

The president acted out of concerns for the millions of Americans who would have been left in the dark if the conversion had gone on as planned.

The Commerce Department and the FCC have been spearheading efforts to ensure all Americans are ready for the switchover, and great progress has been made in just the last three months, since Recovery Act funds were made available.

But with the deadline fast approaching, some people are still unprepared, some 2.5 percent of American households, or 2.8 million households.

Here's what the American people need to know about the June 12 switchover. If you currently have cable, satellite or some other paid-for television service, you have nothing to worry about, you are prepared. You don't need to do anything. And June 12th, you'll see no change in your television reception or programming.

If you have a new television set purchased, let's say, within the last one year, those new television sets come automatically with a digital tuner. So if you have a television set a year old or newer, you're prepared, you don't need to do anything, you don't need to worry.

But if you have a television set more than a year old and you're not on cable or satellite, and you're relying basically on free over- the-air service, you are not ready, and you will lose your television service this Friday if you don't act now.

So you have three options. You can subscribe to cable or satellite. You can purchase a newer television set that has these automatic digital tuners built in. Or you can purchase a converter box.

The Recovery Act provided Commerce with money to help consumers having trouble affording a digital converter box.

LOCKE: Millions of households have applied for and received the $40 coupons to cover the cost of these converter boxes. And the converter boxes start at $40. And we mail out two coupons per household, requesting household, so that basically means that with the coupons, you get a free converter box.

While coupons are still available for eligible households, it will take some nine days for us to process and send out, first-class mail, these coupons, and so they will not arrive in time for this Friday's conversion.

We will have these coupons available until the end of July, July 31st or as long as supplies last. The coupons are good for 90 days each.

If you already have a coupon, please make sure to purchase the converter box immediately at a partnering retail store, like Target, Radio Shack, Circuit City, or Wal-Mart. Take it home, hook it up right away. In fact, you can use these converter boxes now and receive the digital signal now.

You can get more information about the transition or apply for coupons or even find a nearby retailer selling these converter boxes by calling us at -- toll-free at 1-888-DTV-2009.

And for those Americans who need extra assistance, the FCC is offering free in-home installation for consumers in most cities. And they can call the FCC, or, if you have a technical question about how to install the converter boxes, call the FCC at 1-888-call-fcc. They have a robust call center that's in operation to help Americans with the transition. And the call center will be fully staffed for many days, even after June 12th.

For those families already prepared for the transition, make sure to help other friends and families. If they have leftover coupons, unused coupons that are still valid, feel free to share them with other individuals so they can rush out and get a converter box.

We will continue to reach out to the most vulnerable communities to ensure as many Americans as possible are ready for this switch to digital television. We want to make sure that families are able to not only receive their favorite programming, but, more importantly, to receive news broadcasts of emergency alerts, impending storms and any other emergency situation within their community. It's very important that communities and people throughout our nation have the information they need to respond in times of emergencies. And I want to thank you now and be happy to take any questions you have about the transition or the progress that we've made in decreasing the number of families who are unprepared.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what kind of planning you have in place for the families who, come Friday or Saturday, despite your efforts, will not have gone through this and will lose their service?

LOCKE: Well, the television stations, even though the screens will go blue will have telephone numbers on the bottom, either our telephone number, our toll-free number, 1-888-DTV-2009, where they can continue to request the coupons and also telephone numbers for the FCC.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) turns on, this will come on the screen.

LOCKE: It's a rolling, a conversion, starting midnight Thursday night, 12:01 a.m. Friday. Some stations will start converting to digital throughout the day. But by the end of the day, all television stations must be exclusively on digital.

QUESTION: And do you have a sense of how many people will be affected, who will not have converted by then?

LOCKE: Well, as of this last Sunday, we had some 2.7 million households -- excuse me -- 2.8 million households, roughly 2.5 percent of all households in America with television sets that are not prepared.

And when we say not prepared, we mean with -- who don't have at least one television set that can continue to receive news.

I mean, in our own household, we have several television sets that are on cable -- that are hooked up to cable, but I also have an old television set in the garage that's not hooked up and will not be able to receive the broadcast after June 12th. But I am -- we are prepared because our other television sets have cable, and therefore not affected.

So we're talking about families that are completely unprepared, that have neither the converter box, don't have a new television set, or don't have cable or satellite. We call them totally unprepared, and on June 12th, if they don't do something between now and then, they will get nothing but a blue screen.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) particular pockets of the country where families are unprepared or are they scattered throughout the country?

LOCKE: It's actually -- we're finding that it's primarily on the West Coast and the Southwest that are more unprepared than the rest of the country. Los Angeles, while having a small percentage of families unprepared, small percentage of a huge market, is about a 250,000 households that are unprepared.

We're also finding that it's -- ethnic groups are more unprepared than the general population: African-American, Hispanic, almost twice the national average; Asian Americans, just slightly above the national average.

LOCKE: Surprisingly, enough seniors are prepared. And it's the younger generation, households of under 30 that are also more unprepared than the national average. Maybe it's because they rely on new forms of media for news and programming and don't care about television anymore.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

(LAUGHTER)

GIBBS: (OFF-MIKE) newspaper (OFF-MIKE) but that's...

(LAUGHTER)

LOCKE: To you new media people, you must be loving it.

(LAUGHTER)

I'm sorry.

QUESTION: Don't (ph) watch the news tonight.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: The Recovery Act provided $650 million. And we have more than enough coupons to handle all the unprepared households, if they were to ask for coupons.

We also have several million coupons that have not yet been redeemed. But we've also provided funds to the FCC for outreach call center support.

But we've really been pleased with the amazing interest and activity in just the last week. The last few days, we've been receiving requests of over -- from over 100,000 households asking for coupons.

So we're seeing a dramatic drop in the number of unprepared families.

When the president took office, there were some almost 6 million households -- excuse me -- almost 7 million households not prepared, 6.8 million to be exact. That's roughly 5.9 percent of the households not prepared, and that's now down to 2.5 percent or 2.8 million households.

QUESTION: You would say that this was (inaudible).

Is this is a language -- you now, sort of variation, so it's a language issue? Has there been enough done on the language front?

LOCKE: Well, that's -- it could be a language issue. Ethnic minorities, for whatever reason, maybe due to language, are not as prepared as others. But we've been reaching out using Hispanic Telemundo, Univision. I held a press conference with Mayor Villaraigosa in Los Angeles, Mayor Kevin Johnson in Sacramento.

And since those press conferences and those special events, I've conducted more than 50 events -- interview, on-air radio shows, television shows, working with the print media. The activity in requests for coupons have really spiked, but we're using a lot of free media, as well as paid media. And I want to thank all the partners and the television industry and broadcasting industry for getting the word out.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, isn't it possible that some just decide not to do it? And isn't that OK?

LOCKE: That's true. As long as -- we believe that there is almost universal understanding of it. We know that there will be some people who don't want to make the conversion, or may be they'll wait until they get a new television set, or maybe will just -- don't want it for now.

And we know that there are a lot of people who procrastinate, whether it's paying taxes or, when we were in college, studying for exams, but -- or not.

(LAUGHTER)

And getting by. But again, just in the last few days, more than 100,000 households have been calling asking for coupons.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you explain how you're getting these statistics? Like, how do we know that 2.5 percent of, you know, of TV households don't have...

LOCKE: It's from Nielsen data, and they collect the data almost every week or every other week. And the data that I've given you is the data as of Sunday, this past Sunday.

Yes? QUESTION: What about people who have -- who are prepared, hook up the converter box, but still don't get a picture? How many of those might there be?

LOCKE: It could be a problem of reception because for digital, it's all or nothing.

LOCKE: Using the old analog signals if you had a building that was blocking the airwaves, you might get ghosting. And if you were pretty far from the transmission tower, the signal might be weak and you might not have a very good picture. It might be very grainy.

With digital it's all or nothing. And so there may be some problems, and households may need to buy a little antenna, but -- they could attach to the converter box, as well.

But if people are having some questions, they should call the FCC. And it's toll free at 1-888-CALL-FCC. And if people are having some problems with -- with installation understanding, the FCC has free in-home consultation and installation service.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) may I try a different subject? The WTO. The Russians and their two neighbors, Kazakhstan and Belarus, have indicated (inaudible) want to join to the WTO (inaudible). Can you talk about that (inaudible)? Do you have anything to say (inaudible)?

LOCKE: No, I had not heard that. I'm sorry, I...

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: Thank you, guys.

LOCKE: All right, thank you. Thank you.

Thank you.

GIBBS: Let me make a couple of other short announcements before we get going. Earlier today, the president called President Slayman (ph) to congratulate him on Lebanon's successful parliamentary elections, commended Lebanon's Interior Ministry and security services for their hard work.

President Obama reiterated his strong commitment to Lebanon's sovereignty and independence, and he indicated that he looked forward to working with the president to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Lebanon.

Finally, President Obama noted that, that special envoy -- his special envoy for Middle East Peace, George Mitchell, would be in Lebanon on Friday and looked forward to meeting with the president.

Secondly, the president will travel on Monday to Chicago to address the annual meeting of the American Medical Association. He'll star with the recognition of the health care system. Status quo is unsustainable. And he'll outline the case for health care reform.

GIBBS: He'll make clear why we can't afford to wait another year or another administration to bring down costs that are crushing families, businesses and government.

In the speech, the president will discuss the reasons why past efforts have failed, and he'll address the consequences of failing to act again this year.

He'll lay out plainly what health care reform will mean for American families and their doctors and what it won't.

The president will also address the importance of making sure that reform doesn't add to our deficit and what we can do to strengthen what works in our health care system, to fix what's broken -- and to fix what's broken so that we can build -- what we can build provides the best care in the world at the lowest cost.

And then, finally, I would add, not too long before coming out here, probably about 1:55 or so, had an opportunity to speak with the president about the shooting at the Holocaust Museum today, informed him of the situation, gave him the details that we had been given via the Situation Room. He asked about the condition of the security guard.

And so he is aware of -- of the incident this afternoon.

And with that, Mr. (inaudible)?

QUESTION: Two topics, Robert. Thank you.

First of all, following up on that, did the president have any other reaction? How would you characterize (inaudible)?

GIBBS: Yes, I mean, obviously, I walked in and told him there had been a shooting at the museum. Obviously concerned, and concern for the security guard that appears to have been hurt. I gave him mostly a factual briefing of the facts as we knew it, or knew them at that point, and that's about it. Obviously, saddened by what -- what has happened.

QUESTION: And in terms of -- can you just give us a little more detail about the White House involvement in a tragedy like this? How does the coordination work? Is it through the Homeland Security Council?

GIBBS: Well, you know, we get regular updates through -- through the Situation Room. We're in contact with and get updates from Homeland Security Council and other agencies like the FBI.

So I assume throughout the day we'll continue to get information about facts and what's happened at the museum.

QUESTION: I also want to ask you a couple quick things on health care.

Can you give us a progress report on the president's meeting today with key senators? Just to start, how does the White House think it went? Was anything accomplished today?

GIBBS: Well, I think the president continued to discuss with important and leading members of Congress on health care reform the challenges that we have before us.

Obviously, he'll travel tomorrow to Green Bay and have a town hall meeting on this. We just announced, obviously, the speech in Chicago on Monday. The president is -- is pleased that what appears to be happening is making progress.

GIBBS: I think you'll hear him both tomorrow and Monday, as I said, lay out the strong case for health care reform to bring about some relief for families and small businesses from the costs that they're seeing rise each and every year.

QUESTION: Senator Baucus said afterwards here in the driveway that everything remains an option. He said, "We are all flexible on all these points. We are; the president is." Is that an accurate...

GIBBS: The president is --is anxious to let the legislative process work. I think you've all had a chance to cover the letter that he sent last week regarding the principles that he has for meaningful health care reform. And we're going to continue to work that process to ensure that progress is -- is on the right path.

QUESTION: A couple of financial questions. First, how confident is the administration that G.M.'s bankruptcy restructuring will proceed smoothly, now that the Supreme Court decided not to intervene with Chrysler and the sale to Fiat has gone through?

GIBBS: Well, look, I think it gives -- it gives everybody confidence.

Obviously, we had great confidence in the restructuring plan that had been put together as part of the deal that's now been finalized with Chrysler and Fiat. It gives Chrysler a restructured opportunity to move forward. And it's our strong hope that the same happens relatively quickly for G.M.

I think the time frame is slightly longer. We've discussed a 6- to 90 day period, rather than a 30 to 60 day period for Chrysler. Obviously, G.M.'s a little bit bigger company.

But we have confidence that the process that's been put forward will -- will work its way through the system.

We understand, as I said yesterday, that people are entitled to their day in court, if they have grievances about some situation surrounding the bankruptcy. But the president and the auto task force strongly believe this gives car companies, communities, workers and investors the best opportunity -- and taxpayers the best opportunity, moving forward. It's what's kept plants opened, it's what's kept people on the job.

And I think we are heartened by what happened at the Supreme Court and hope to see the same follow for General Motors. QUESTION: And on the executive (inaudible) compensation, will the administration be naming Kenneth Feinberg as the pay czar to oversee the packages, pay packages for executives in companies that are receiving bailout money? And how much of the decision on these measures was driven by the president's desire to quell public anger about compensation news that has come out recently?

GIBBS: Well, look, Ken Feinberg is going to assume the role of special master that will allow him to review for soundness, appropriateness, and to limit risk relating to compensation packages for -- for those companies that are either receiving extraordinary assistance or might -- might in the future.

I think, obviously, this is an individual that has great experience in -- in mediation and things that are -- these type of things that are important. And I think -- and obviously, this is a topic that the president has spoken about.

I don't know if the fact sheets have all gone out from Treasury yet, but there's additional -- additional legislative efforts that we'll -- we will undertake, as you've heard the president talk about.

QUESTION: A couple questions: The shooting today at the Holocaust Museum, combined with the shooting of Dr. Tiller, as well as the shooting of the military recruiter at (inaudible) is the White House at all concerned that there is some sort of trend of political violence or domestic terrorism going on?

GIBBS: I would -- I would want to ask somebody in law enforcement if they see links such as that. I don't -- I don't think it would be wise for me to surmise something like that.

I think, as the president said in his statement after the shooting of Dr. Tiller, that regardless of disagreeing or disparate viewpoints, that, obviously, in our society, this is not in any way the type of action that anybody wants to see in settling even the most vehement disputes.

But I -- it's hard for me to surmise without having a more in- depth conversation with law enforcement.

MORE

WHITE HOUSE REGULAR NEWS BRIEFING

JUNE 10, 2009

SPEAKERS: WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS

SECRETARY OF COMMERCE GARY LOCKE

[*] GIBBS: All right. Take you seats. Settle down. (inaudible) sometimes like a zoo in here, Mr. Secretary.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

GIBBS: Huh?

(LAUGHTER)

Again, in my endeavoring pursuit to bring you special guests, today obviously we have the secretary of commerce, Gary Locke, who's going to talk to you guys and give you a little bit of an update on the impending deadline for the transition for digital television, which takes place at the end of this week.

So, Mr. Secretary?

LOCKE: Thank you. Thank you, Robert.

And today I'm here to remind Americans about the impending national switch to digital television. It's just two days away, Friday, June 12th.

In February, President Obama signed the DTV Delay Act, which set June 12th as the final deadline for television broadcasters to transition from analogue to digital signals.

The president acted out of concerns for the millions of Americans who would have been left in the dark if the conversion had gone on as planned.

The Commerce Department and the FCC have been spearheading efforts to ensure all Americans are ready for the switchover, and great progress has been made in just the last three months, since Recovery Act funds were made available.

But with the deadline fast approaching, some people are still unprepared, some 2.5 percent of American households, or 2.8 million households.

Here's what the American people need to know about the June 12 switchover. If you currently have cable, satellite or some other paid-for television service, you have nothing to worry about, you are prepared. You don't need to do anything. And June 12th, you'll see no change in your television reception or programming.

If you have a new television set purchased, let's say, within the last one year, those new television sets come automatically with a digital tuner. So if you have a television set a year old or newer, you're prepared, you don't need to do anything, you don't need to worry.

But if you have a television set more than a year old and you're not on cable or satellite, and you're relying basically on free over- the-air service, you are not ready, and you will lose your television service this Friday if you don't act now.

So you have three options. You can subscribe to cable or satellite. You can purchase a newer television set that has these automatic digital tuners built in. Or you can purchase a converter box.

The Recovery Act provided Commerce with money to help consumers having trouble affording a digital converter box.

LOCKE: Millions of households have applied for and received the $40 coupons to cover the cost of these converter boxes. And the converter boxes start at $40. And we mail out two coupons per household, requesting household, so that basically means that with the coupons, you get a free converter box.

While coupons are still available for eligible households, it will take some nine days for us to process and send out, first-class mail, these coupons, and so they will not arrive in time for this Friday's conversion.

We will have these coupons available until the end of July, July 31st or as long as supplies last. The coupons are good for 90 days each.

If you already have a coupon, please make sure to purchase the converter box immediately at a partnering retail store, like Target, Radio Shack, Circuit City, or Wal-Mart. Take it home, hook it up right away. In fact, you can use these converter boxes now and receive the digital signal now.

You can get more information about the transition or apply for coupons or even find a nearby retailer selling these converter boxes by calling us at -- toll-free at 1-888-DTV-2009.

And for those Americans who need extra assistance, the FCC is offering free in-home installation for consumers in most cities. And they can call the FCC, or, if you have a technical question about how to install the converter boxes, call the FCC at 1-888-call-fcc. They have a robust call center that's in operation to help Americans with the transition. And the call center will be fully staffed for many days, even after June 12th.

For those families already prepared for the transition, make sure to help other friends and families. If they have leftover coupons, unused coupons that are still valid, feel free to share them with other individuals so they can rush out and get a converter box.

We will continue to reach out to the most vulnerable communities to ensure as many Americans as possible are ready for this switch to digital television. We want to make sure that families are able to not only receive their favorite programming, but, more importantly, to receive news broadcasts of emergency alerts, impending storms and any other emergency situation within their community. It's very important that communities and people throughout our nation have the information they need to respond in times of emergencies. And I want to thank you now and be happy to take any questions you have about the transition or the progress that we've made in decreasing the number of families who are unprepared.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what kind of planning you have in place for the families who, come Friday or Saturday, despite your efforts, will not have gone through this and will lose their service?

LOCKE: Well, the television stations, even though the screens will go blue will have telephone numbers on the bottom, either our telephone number, our toll-free number, 1-888-DTV-2009, where they can continue to request the coupons and also telephone numbers for the FCC.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) turns on, this will come on the screen.

LOCKE: It's a rolling, a conversion, starting midnight Thursday night, 12:01 a.m. Friday. Some stations will start converting to digital throughout the day. But by the end of the day, all television stations must be exclusively on digital.

QUESTION: And do you have a sense of how many people will be affected, who will not have converted by then?

LOCKE: Well, as of this last Sunday, we had some 2.7 million households -- excuse me -- 2.8 million households, roughly 2.5 percent of all households in America with television sets that are not prepared.

And when we say not prepared, we mean with -- who don't have at least one television set that can continue to receive news.

I mean, in our own household, we have several television sets that are on cable -- that are hooked up to cable, but I also have an old television set in the garage that's not hooked up and will not be able to receive the broadcast after June 12th. But I am -- we are prepared because our other television sets have cable, and therefore not affected.

So we're talking about families that are completely unprepared, that have neither the converter box, don't have a new television set, or don't have cable or satellite. We call them totally unprepared, and on June 12th, if they don't do something between now and then, they will get nothing but a blue screen.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) particular pockets of the country where families are unprepared or are they scattered throughout the country?

LOCKE: It's actually -- we're finding that it's primarily on the West Coast and the Southwest that are more unprepared than the rest of the country. Los Angeles, while having a small percentage of families unprepared, small percentage of a huge market, is about a 250,000 households that are unprepared.

We're also finding that it's -- ethnic groups are more unprepared than the general population: African-American, Hispanic, almost twice the national average; Asian Americans, just slightly above the national average.

LOCKE: Surprisingly, enough seniors are prepared. And it's the younger generation, households of under 30 that are also more unprepared than the national average. Maybe it's because they rely on new forms of media for news and programming and don't care about television anymore.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

(LAUGHTER)

GIBBS: (OFF-MIKE) newspaper (OFF-MIKE) but that's...

(LAUGHTER)

LOCKE: To you new media people, you must be loving it.

(LAUGHTER)

I'm sorry.

QUESTION: Don't (ph) watch the news tonight.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: The Recovery Act provided $650 million. And we have more than enough coupons to handle all the unprepared households, if they were to ask for coupons.

We also have several million coupons that have not yet been redeemed. But we've also provided funds to the FCC for outreach call center support.

But we've really been pleased with the amazing interest and activity in just the last week. The last few days, we've been receiving requests of over -- from over 100,000 households asking for coupons.

So we're seeing a dramatic drop in the number of unprepared families.

When the president took office, there were some almost 6 million households -- excuse me -- almost 7 million households not prepared, 6.8 million to be exact. That's roughly 5.9 percent of the households not prepared, and that's now down to 2.5 percent or 2.8 million households.

QUESTION: You would say that this was (inaudible).

Is this is a language -- you now, sort of variation, so it's a language issue? Has there been enough done on the language front?

LOCKE: Well, that's -- it could be a language issue. Ethnic minorities, for whatever reason, maybe due to language, are not as prepared as others. But we've been reaching out using Hispanic Telemundo, Univision. I held a press conference with Mayor Villaraigosa in Los Angeles, Mayor Kevin Johnson in Sacramento.

And since those press conferences and those special events, I've conducted more than 50 events -- interview, on-air radio shows, television shows, working with the print media. The activity in requests for coupons have really spiked, but we're using a lot of free media, as well as paid media. And I want to thank all the partners and the television industry and broadcasting industry for getting the word out.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, isn't it possible that some just decide not to do it? And isn't that OK?

LOCKE: That's true. As long as -- we believe that there is almost universal understanding of it. We know that there will be some people who don't want to make the conversion, or may be they'll wait until they get a new television set, or maybe will just -- don't want it for now.

And we know that there are a lot of people who procrastinate, whether it's paying taxes or, when we were in college, studying for exams, but -- or not.

(LAUGHTER)

And getting by. But again, just in the last few days, more than 100,000 households have been calling asking for coupons.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, can you explain how you're getting these statistics? Like, how do we know that 2.5 percent of, you know, of TV households don't have...

LOCKE: It's from Nielsen data, and they collect the data almost every week or every other week. And the data that I've given you is the data as of Sunday, this past Sunday.

Yes? QUESTION: What about people who have -- who are prepared, hook up the converter box, but still don't get a picture? How many of those might there be?

LOCKE: It could be a problem of reception because for digital, it's all or nothing.

LOCKE: Using the old analog signals if you had a building that was blocking the airwaves, you might get ghosting. And if you were pretty far from the transmission tower, the signal might be weak and you might not have a very good picture. It might be very grainy.

With digital it's all or nothing. And so there may be some problems, and households may need to buy a little antenna, but -- they could attach to the converter box, as well.

But if people are having some questions, they should call the FCC. And it's toll free at 1-888-CALL-FCC. And if people are having some problems with -- with installation understanding, the FCC has free in-home consultation and installation service.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) may I try a different subject? The WTO. The Russians and their two neighbors, Kazakhstan and Belarus, have indicated (inaudible) want to join to the WTO (inaudible). Can you talk about that (inaudible)? Do you have anything to say (inaudible)?

LOCKE: No, I had not heard that. I'm sorry, I...

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: Thank you, guys.

LOCKE: All right, thank you. Thank you.

Thank you.

GIBBS: Let me make a couple of other short announcements before we get going. Earlier today, the president called President Slayman (ph) to congratulate him on Lebanon's successful parliamentary elections, commended Lebanon's Interior Ministry and security services for their hard work.

President Obama reiterated his strong commitment to Lebanon's sovereignty and independence, and he indicated that he looked forward to working with the president to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Lebanon.

Finally, President Obama noted that, that special envoy -- his special envoy for Middle East Peace, George Mitchell, would be in Lebanon on Friday and looked forward to meeting with the president.

Secondly, the president will travel on Monday to Chicago to address the annual meeting of the American Medical Association. He'll star with the recognition of the health care system. Status quo is unsustainable. And he'll outline the case for health care reform.

GIBBS: He'll make clear why we can't afford to wait another year or another administration to bring down costs that are crushing families, businesses and government.

In the speech, the president will discuss the reasons why past efforts have failed, and he'll address the consequences of failing to act again this year.

He'll lay out plainly what health care reform will mean for American families and their doctors and what it won't.

The president will also address the importance of making sure that reform doesn't add to our deficit and what we can do to strengthen what works in our health care system, to fix what's broken -- and to fix what's broken so that we can build -- what we can build provides the best care in the world at the lowest cost.

And then, finally, I would add, not too long before coming out here, probably about 1:55 or so, had an opportunity to speak with the president about the shooting at the Holocaust Museum today, informed him of the situation, gave him the details that we had been given via the Situation Room. He asked about the condition of the security guard.

And so he is aware of -- of the incident this afternoon.

And with that, Mr. (inaudible)?

QUESTION: Two topics, Robert. Thank you.

First of all, following up on that, did the president have any other reaction? How would you characterize (inaudible)?

GIBBS: Yes, I mean, obviously, I walked in and told him there had been a shooting at the museum. Obviously concerned, and concern for the security guard that appears to have been hurt. I gave him mostly a factual briefing of the facts as we knew it, or knew them at that point, and that's about it. Obviously, saddened by what -- what has happened.

QUESTION: And in terms of -- can you just give us a little more detail about the White House involvement in a tragedy like this? How does the coordination work? Is it through the Homeland Security Council?

GIBBS: Well, you know, we get regular updates through -- through the Situation Room. We're in contact with and get updates from Homeland Security Council and other agencies like the FBI.

So I assume throughout the day we'll continue to get information about facts and what's happened at the museum.

QUESTION: I also want to ask you a couple quick things on health care.

Can you give us a progress report on the president's meeting today with key senators? Just to start, how does the White House think it went? Was anything accomplished today?

GIBBS: Well, I think the president continued to discuss with important and leading members of Congress on health care reform the challenges that we have before us.

Obviously, he'll travel tomorrow to Green Bay and have a town hall meeting on this. We just announced, obviously, the speech in Chicago on Monday. The president is -- is pleased that what appears to be happening is making progress.

GIBBS: I think you'll hear him both tomorrow and Monday, as I said, lay out the strong case for health care reform to bring about some relief for families and small businesses from the costs that they're seeing rise each and every year.

QUESTION: Senator Baucus said afterwards here in the driveway that everything remains an option. He said, "We are all flexible on all these points. We are; the president is." Is that an accurate...

GIBBS: The president is --is anxious to let the legislative process work. I think you've all had a chance to cover the letter that he sent last week regarding the principles that he has for meaningful health care reform. And we're going to continue to work that process to ensure that progress is -- is on the right path.

QUESTION: A couple of financial questions. First, how confident is the administration that G.M.'s bankruptcy restructuring will proceed smoothly, now that the Supreme Court decided not to intervene with Chrysler and the sale to Fiat has gone through?

GIBBS: Well, look, I think it gives -- it gives everybody confidence.

Obviously, we had great confidence in the restructuring plan that had been put together as part of the deal that's now been finalized with Chrysler and Fiat. It gives Chrysler a restructured opportunity to move forward. And it's our strong hope that the same happens relatively quickly for G.M.

I think the time frame is slightly longer. We've discussed a 6- to 90 day period, rather than a 30 to 60 day period for Chrysler. Obviously, G.M.'s a little bit bigger company.

But we have confidence that the process that's been put forward will -- will work its way through the system.

We understand, as I said yesterday, that people are entitled to their day in court, if they have grievances about some situation surrounding the bankruptcy. But the president and the auto task force strongly believe this gives car companies, communities, workers and investors the best opportunity -- and taxpayers the best opportunity, moving forward. It's what's kept plants opened, it's what's kept people on the job.

And I think we are heartened by what happened at the Supreme Court and hope to see the same follow for General Motors. QUESTION: And on the executive (inaudible) compensation, will the administration be naming Kenneth Feinberg as the pay czar to oversee the packages, pay packages for executives in companies that are receiving bailout money? And how much of the decision on these measures was driven by the president's desire to quell public anger about compensation news that has come out recently?

GIBBS: Well, look, Ken Feinberg is going to assume the role of special master that will allow him to review for soundness, appropriateness, and to limit risk relating to compensation packages for -- for those companies that are either receiving extraordinary assistance or might -- might in the future.

I think, obviously, this is an individual that has great experience in -- in mediation and things that are -- these type of things that are important. And I think -- and obviously, this is a topic that the president has spoken about.

I don't know if the fact sheets have all gone out from Treasury yet, but there's additional -- additional legislative efforts that we'll -- we will undertake, as you've heard the president talk about.

QUESTION: A couple questions: The shooting today at the Holocaust Museum, combined with the shooting of Dr. Tiller, as well as the shooting of the military recruiter at (inaudible) is the White House at all concerned that there is some sort of trend of political violence or domestic terrorism going on?

GIBBS: I would -- I would want to ask somebody in law enforcement if they see links such as that. I don't -- I don't think it would be wise for me to surmise something like that.

I think, as the president said in his statement after the shooting of Dr. Tiller, that regardless of disagreeing or disparate viewpoints, that, obviously, in our society, this is not in any way the type of action that anybody wants to see in settling even the most vehement disputes.

But I -- it's hard for me to surmise without having a more in- depth conversation with law enforcement.

QUESTION: This is really just out of curiosity more than anything. How do you guys decide which acts of violence will prompt a White House response and which ones won't? There was a statement that went out about Dr. Teller. How is the decision made that that would get a presidential statement, whereas the military recruiter in the Arkansas shooting would not?

GIBBS: Well, I believe a statement did go to many stations in Arkansas regarding that.

QUESTION: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: And just about executive compensation. What -- what's the response of the White House to the push-back from business groups that the federal government should have no role in deciding how their executive compensation is delivered? Whether it's a nonbinding resolution or not, it's not the job of the government to tell them how to run their companies?

GIBBS: Well, look, obviously this is split up into at least three different baskets, I'd say. You have the congressional amendment, the Dodd amendment that passed, covering for the top five corporate officers and the next highest 20 paid employees for all companies receiving some measure of TARP assistance. And that governs limits on bonuses. That's one. That was congressional intent.

I think you'll see from the fact sheets that will soon go out -- my apologizes that they haven't -- there's a bit of an expansion from what is in the congressionally mandated amendment that gives for the seven current companies receiving extraordinary assistance, the ability to not simply look at the top five-plus-20, but indeed the top 100 in order to judge, as I said, the soundness, the appropriateness, and whether or not the risk is being -- is being taken into account in this.

GIBBS: Lastly, the president has supported, as a member of the Senate, and continues to support efforts that are non-binding shareholder efforts to provide -- so that shareholders are empowered to provide some say on the -- on the compensation for the managers for the companies for which they invest.

It's non-binding, but we have seen in, certainly, other countries that have had arrangements like this that the power of public opinion is persuasive in ensuring that compensation doesn't become so aligned with short-term gain rather than long-term incentive, which is why most people own stock in a company.

I think the president believes that there are steps that we can take to ensure that there are mechanisms in place, again, that bolster this notion of long-term incentive rather than short-term gain so that that doesn't contribute to something like we've seen in this economic crisis.

QUESTION: (inaudible) publicly traded companies. You did mention the push that Secretary Geithner mentioned today to have the compensation boards be more independent.

GIBBS: That's another legislative thing that allows -- like in Sarbanes-Oxley, with the independence of the accounting committees, this provides the independence for the compensation committee not to be connected with management, again, in order to set compensation that is outside of what we believe rewards that long-term incentive.

I think the president believes, rightly, that these two legislative efforts, in addition to the regulation surrounding the -- around the Dodd amendment as well as what Mr. Feinberg (ph) is going to do are common sense reforms that will give people confidence in publicly traded companies.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, what's Feinberg's jurisdiction going to be?

GIBBS: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Feinberg's jurisdiction?

GIBBS: Again, this is -- these are for -- again, for companies that are receiving what's termed "exceptional assistance."

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: At this point -- right -- at this point, those are, it's seven -- seven, it's AIG, Citi, Bank of America, G.M., GMAC, Chrysler, and Chrysler Financial.

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: But -- those are the ones that are -- at this point are determined to have outstanding exceptional assistance through the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Obviously, going forward, were somebody to fall into that category, they, too, would come into -- they could come into that jurisdiction.

QUESTION: But that's just jurisdiction -- that's (inaudible).

GIBBS: Yes.

QUESTION: Robert, some financial institutions seem to be rushing to want to pay back some of the bailout money, which, on the one hand, that's good, because it shows they're in a good financial position. But on the other hand, it seems that they want to get out from under the thumb of the government, the oversight, some of the restrictions.

Is the administration troubled at all by that, that these -- these -- the oversight that has been put in place to protect consumers, they want to get out from under that?

GIBBS: Well, again, as the president has said numerous times, he doesn't want to run car companies. He doesn't want to run banks. He doesn't want to run insurance companies with hedge funds on top of them.

There are -- there is a, obviously, a robust free enterprise system that is going to determine with reasonable regulation the rules of the road. So if -- if banks, based on the recommendations and approval of their regulators, are deemed able to have the capital cushion that's required, that allows them to pay back that -- that TARP money, we obviously believe, again, assuming the regulators, obviously, approve that, that that's a healthy thing for our system. It gives confidence that the program was run in a way that provided temporary assistance through extraordinarily bad times.

The government has, per the announcement yesterday, recouped not just $66 billion in -- in money that was lent, but $2 billion that was paid in interest. We're -- we're happy to get out of the business of being any sort of creditor.

QUESTION: But what is the thinking, though, when you hear that, you know, they want to get out from under the restrictions, or that oversight, when it comes to how much they can pay their executives, for example?

QUESTION: This is really just out of curiosity more than anything. How do you guys decide which acts of violence will prompt a White House response and which ones won't? There was a statement that went out about Dr. Teller. How is the decision made that that would get a presidential statement, whereas the military recruiter in the Arkansas shooting would not?

GIBBS: Well, I believe a statement did go to many stations in Arkansas regarding that.

QUESTION: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: And just about executive compensation. What -- what's the response of the White House to the push-back from business groups that the federal government should have no role in deciding how their executive compensation is delivered? Whether it's a nonbinding resolution or not, it's not the job of the government to tell them how to run their companies?

GIBBS: Well, look, obviously this is split up into at least three different baskets, I'd say. You have the congressional amendment, the Dodd amendment that passed, covering for the top five corporate officers and the next highest 20 paid employees for all companies receiving some measure of TARP assistance. And that governs limits on bonuses. That's one. That was congressional intent.

I think you'll see from the fact sheets that will soon go out -- my apologizes that they haven't -- there's a bit of an expansion from what is in the congressionally mandated amendment that gives for the seven current companies receiving extraordinary assistance, the ability to not simply look at the top five-plus-20, but indeed the top 100 in order to judge, as I said, the soundness, the appropriateness, and whether or not the risk is being -- is being taken into account in this.

GIBBS: Lastly, the president has supported, as a member of the Senate, and continues to support efforts that are non-binding shareholder efforts to provide -- so that shareholders are empowered to provide some say on the -- on the compensation for the managers for the companies for which they invest.

It's non-binding, but we have seen in, certainly, other countries that have had arrangements like this that the power of public opinion is persuasive in ensuring that compensation doesn't become so aligned with short-term gain rather than long-term incentive, which is why most people own stock in a company.

I think the president believes that there are steps that we can take to ensure that there are mechanisms in place, again, that bolster this notion of long-term incentive rather than short-term gain so that that doesn't contribute to something like we've seen in this economic crisis.

QUESTION: (inaudible) publicly traded companies. You did mention the push that Secretary Geithner mentioned today to have the compensation boards be more independent.

GIBBS: That's another legislative thing that allows -- like in Sarbanes-Oxley, with the independence of the accounting committees, this provides the independence for the compensation committee not to be connected with management, again, in order to set compensation that is outside of what we believe rewards that long-term incentive.

I think the president believes, rightly, that these two legislative efforts, in addition to the regulation surrounding the -- around the Dodd amendment as well as what Mr. Feinberg (ph) is going to do are common sense reforms that will give people confidence in publicly traded companies.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on that, what's Feinberg's jurisdiction going to be?

GIBBS: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Feinberg's jurisdiction?

GIBBS: Again, this is -- these are for -- again, for companies that are receiving what's termed "exceptional assistance."

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: At this point -- right -- at this point, those are, it's seven -- seven, it's AIG, Citi, Bank of America, G.M., GMAC, Chrysler, and Chrysler Financial.

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: But -- those are the ones that are -- at this point are determined to have outstanding exceptional assistance through the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Obviously, going forward, were somebody to fall into that category, they, too, would come into -- they could come into that jurisdiction.

QUESTION: But that's just jurisdiction -- that's (inaudible).

GIBBS: Yes.

QUESTION: Robert, some financial institutions seem to be rushing to want to pay back some of the bailout money, which, on the one hand, that's good, because it shows they're in a good financial position. But on the other hand, it seems that they want to get out from under the thumb of the government, the oversight, some of the restrictions.

Is the administration troubled at all by that, that these -- these -- the oversight that has been put in place to protect consumers, they want to get out from under that?

GIBBS: Well, again, as the president has said numerous times, he doesn't want to run car companies. He doesn't want to run banks. He doesn't want to run insurance companies with hedge funds on top of them.

There are -- there is a, obviously, a robust free enterprise system that is going to determine with reasonable regulation the rules of the road. So if -- if banks, based on the recommendations and approval of their regulators, are deemed able to have the capital cushion that's required, that allows them to pay back that -- that TARP money, we obviously believe, again, assuming the regulators, obviously, approve that, that that's a healthy thing for our system. It gives confidence that the program was run in a way that provided temporary assistance through extraordinarily bad times.

The government has, per the announcement yesterday, recouped not just $66 billion in -- in money that was lent, but $2 billion that was paid in interest. We're -- we're happy to get out of the business of being any sort of creditor.

QUESTION: But what is the thinking, though, when you hear that, you know, they want to get out from under the restrictions, or that oversight, when it comes to how much they can pay their executives, for example?

GIBBS: Well, again -- again, I think what the president believes is -- and I think it's why it's extremely important, the president's effort through legislation to gain a say on pay, which allows, again, a nonbinding vote of shareholders to judge the compensation levels for the management structure for the company in which they've invested their hard-earned money.

As we've seen in other countries, despite the fact that it's nonbinding, obviously there's a tremendous power of public opinion. And we've seen that that can bring about tremendous reforms.

Obviously, the president continues to believe, as I said earlier to Jake's question, that nobody -- nobody finds fault with people that are doing well and are being paid well, as long as that compensation appears to be aligned with a long-term incentive for growth in a company rather than for the short-term gain of an individual, which happens to generally be or can be at the expense of stockholders.

These are, I think, practical, common-sense safeguards that the president advocates and in these regulations has put in place that I think give people a lot of confidence.

QUESTION: Thanks, Robert. Could you tell -- give us a little more information on how Ken Feinberg will actually do this, what kind of power he has? Does he just set salary and bonus figures and say, "Here it is," or do they propose a package...

GIBBS: Yes.

QUESTION: ... that he then denies or approves?

GIBBS: He is -- he will -- he has the jurisdiction to review for those companies receiving that exceptional assistance, the seven companies I outlined and anything, if it were to be added in the future, he has the ability to review the compensation structures and determine whether or not we believe they meet the criteria of being sound and appropriate rather than excessive.

QUESTION: But if he -- if he disapproves of one, can he then set his own figures? Or do they just keep coming back to him?

GIBBS: I -- I -- he could -- he can set his own figures. People can -- he will be able to ensure for those companies receiving exceptional assistance, for those top 100 paid employees, a compensation structure that he believes and the government believes is sound and appropriate.

QUESTION: And for how long will these companies be under this?

GIBBS: For as long as -- as long as they have -- for as long as they have that exceptional assistance. So as Dan said, if -- if -- if Chip Reed (ph) Bank is receiving exceptional assistance, you work with your appropriate regulator, whether it's the Federal Reserve, the FDIC; come to a conclusion that that the money that you've been given, you can pay back; if that money is paid back, then obviously you're not a recipient anymore of exceptional assistance.

The Dodd amendment for the top five corporate officers and the next-highest 20 paid employees extends for all businesses, all companies that are receiving any TARP assistance -- and what that law, as you know, does doesn't cap pay, but allows only someone to receive as a bonus one-third of what their paid.

QUESTION: Isn't this a pretty extraordinary departure from the way American capitalism has -- and I know these are extraordinary circumstances, but still to have a government employee setting the salaries for hundreds of private sector employees...

GIBBS: Again, these are...

QUESTION: ... to the penny?

GIBBS: These are -- these are private-sector employees that, in many ways, have their job based on the extraordinary assistance that has been provided by taxpayers to ensure that they can continue to have their job.

QUESTION: Where does it stop? All companies have taxpayer assistance, in one way or another.

GIBBS: How so?

QUESTION: Well, I mean, you're -- well, they're all in different forms of so-called corporate welfare, all through the tax code.

GIBBS: Well, I think that -- I'm not entirely what you're getting at, but...

QUESTION: I'm getting at, if any company that gets any kind of government assistance can have their salaries set by the federal government, then where does does it...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Where does it stop?

GIBBS: That would be an appropriate question if what I've outlined met that criteria. Again, I denoted there are seven companies that have received extraordinary taxpayer assistance, anywhere from -- I don't know the rankings of how much they've made, but obviously these seven companies have received extraordinary assistance.

Congress passed the Dodd amendment that relates to any company that receives funding or money directly through the TARP program.

But, again, this is not an effort to set the salaries, as you said, to the penny, of every publicly owned or traded company in this country. This is a proposal that protects the taxpayers.

QUESTION: But there are many in the business community who think, once you've set this precedent, where does it stop?

GIBBS: Well, you know, you guys have asked me any number of times about the role that the government has to play in the event that it's providing, as I've said, the exceptional or extraordinary assistance that has been provided by the taxpayers. The president believes, and Congress believed, that -- that that was something that was important to do, to protect the taxpayers, to ensure that compensation, either through salary or bonuses, was done in a way that was consistent with sound and appropriate practices, and that limited risk for taxpayers.

GIBBS: I think that's what's important here, is that these are investments that have been made through the TARP program, by taxpayers, through taxpayer money. This is an effort, both congressional mandated and through the Treasury Department, to ensure that, that investment is not -- that investment is protected in order not to rationalize an unrationally risky compensation package.

QUESTION: Robert, just in the array of questions, there've been questions government involvement in the auto industry, what Chip's getting at about compensation (ph), and now you've got the president tackling health care. There is concerns among some of the public -- obviously, Republican criticism (inaudible).

At what point -- how do you reassure the public that says (inaudible) government's reaching in too much (inaudible) too many things, and, you know, maybe health care (inaudible) one step too much? How do you respond to that criticism of government's involvement in so many things right now, whether it's the auto industry, financial industry, now in redoing health care?

GIBBS: Well, obviously -- I don't know if you've asked the question this week about the budget deficit, but Medicare and Medicaid are, as Peter said, take up a big chunk of our federal budget. Those costs are simply going to grow if not dealt with exponentially over the next few decades.

The president believes that health care reform will help on a path toward fiscal responsibility, and that millions of Americans, families and small businesses are looking for relief from the crushing costs of health care that again rise several times the rate of inflation each year.

You know, I think on any number of occasion, Chuck, the president wishes any number of problems might not be on his plate, but that's not necessarily what's -- that's not necessarily the set of cards that's been dealt to.

QUESTION: All right, let me take -- ask it another way then. Are you worried that the political problem of, you know, that Republicans are using on Capitol Hill, saying government's trying to get too involved in that, that could hurt the president's chances, for instance, of getting a government plan, a public plan in his health care because there is this sort of rising discomfort among...

GIBBS: Well...

QUESTION: ... the populace about government involvement in everything?

GIBBS: No...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: You know, that the government's involvement in the auto industry and financial industry makes it harder for you...

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: I think if you listen to the debate on -- I think if you'd listen to the debate on Capitol Hill about health care, you're likely to hear two very important words, right? "Choice" and "competition."

A public option that you're referring to is nothing more than the ability to provide more choice through competition. Those, I think, are values that you'll hear throughout this debate as being held near and dear to the hearts of not just people on Capitol Hill, but throughout the country, and the president and Congress are working to design health care reform that provides more choice and more competition.

QUESTION: Is there an issue that you guys are ready to say, "You know what? We can't wait for government. We want less government involvement."

GIBBS: We don't want to own a T.V. company.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: We'll talk about your -- yes, sir, I'm sorry.

QUESTION: It's OK.

What's Ken Feinberg being compensated?

GIBBS: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: What's -- what is the compensation of Ken Feinberg?

GIBBS: I don't know.

QUESTION: I mean, is he -- is it a paid position? Is it a full- time position?

GIBBS: I -- I -- I assume it is, but I don't have his -- compensation.

QUESTION: You don't know if it's a full-time position?

GIBBS: I don't know what he's being compensated.

QUESTION: Right, but is it a full-time position?

GIBBS: Yes. I don't know what his -- what I'm saying is, I don't know how much he's being paid.

QUESTION: There have been reports he's not receiving any compensation. Do you know if that's true?

GIBBS: I will check. I don't. Well, I don't know if there's a special master for him.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: And secondly, when are the rules going to be released on the Dodd TARP bonus legislation?

GIBBS: That's today.

QUESTION: Is that today?

GIBBS: Yes.

QUESTION: Is that going to happen? That's going to be...

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: Yes. You should get a series of fact sheets at some point.

QUESTION: Two are out. There's one more (inaudible).

GIBBS: OK.

QUESTION: OK. And, finally...

GIBBS: Yes?

QUESTION: ... when the president unveiled his own compensation proposals, there was a lot of fanfare. It was before the Dodd -- the Dodd's -- the legislation passed.

How would you characterize this? Is it -- the new rule, as (inaudible) to his original -- his original proposal. Is he walking back from his original proposal? Was it trumped by legislation? How what...

GIBBS: Well, I would say, obviously, Congress passing the Dodd amendment does require, obviously, as you mentioned, with wanting to see the regulations is the law of the land for -- for compensation relating to anybody receiving TARP funds.

The president outlined a set of proposals that, in many ways, because of the law of the land, were superseded.

We believe that what Mr. Feinberg will do broadens the -- broadens the scope of what can be looked into because of this -- just the simple number of employees that are affected in companies receiving that exceptional or extraordinary assistance.

Obviously, if -- if there -- if a proposal comes to his desk that is equal to the number that we talked about earlier, that's something that will -- obviously is a safe harbor -- safe harbor part of this provision.

But we believe that Mr. Feinberg's role gives him the ability to better understand and better look into the soundness, the appropriateness in ensuring that balance of risk.

QUESTION: Why stop short of giving the shareholders a binding say on executive pay?

GIBBS: Chip thought it was a bad idea.

(LAUGHTER)

I'm trying to play CBS off against each other.

QUESTION: Won't work. (inaudible) short-hand for American people.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

GIBBS: Right.

(LAUGHTER)

GIBBS: Right, exactly. All right.

No, I think that the president believes that the appropriateness of giving shareholders the power of public opinion is an appropriate role. I think the president believes that -- the president does not want to, just as he doesn't want to own a bank or a car company, doesn't want to be the person that sets pay at every single -- at every single entity for every single business in this country.

I think this provides the non-binding ability for public opinion through greater transparency and empowering of stockholders, who have a vested interest in the health and well-being of the company to have their say on managerial -- managerial pay and compensation.

QUESTION: What kind of say is it if it's not binding?

GIBBS: This is the opposite of the question you asked the first time?

QUESTION: No.

GIBBS: OK. We will -- if you look at, for instance this was done in Great Britain. There was a say on -- a non-binding say on pay that was instituted that gave, as I said, greater transparency, and empowered those that owned the company to have a say. And it has worked because public opinion is very powerful. If a compensation package is not approved by the stockholders that own that corporation, there's a tremendous amount of public pressure that has resulted in instituting common sense pay reforms. Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: Robert, you -- you hinted at it, but just can you say explicitly that the -- that you are -- that the administration is dropping plans to limit salaries at companies receiving bailout funds?

GIBBS: Receiving what type of bailout funds?

QUESTION: The TARP money.

GIBBS: Well, again, the -- as Jonathan (ph) asked, the original proposal that the president had, limiting, at a certain amount, exceptional assistance was, and has been superseded by implementing regulations relating to the law of the land.

QUESTION: Hence you're dropping it because of the Dodd amendment?

GIBBS: Because, again, we've -- we've -- we believe, actually, that the -- we've got probably a stronger proposal in terms of having somebody look into a greater number of the people that are involved.

QUESTION: Because at the time, the administration did say that the two proposals would work hand in hand.

GIBBS: Well, and, obviously, there has been a lot of time and energy spent on working through regulations to implement the law of the land. We believe we've struck the right balance.

QUESTION: If I could ask a question on -- another executive pay question, the issue of independent directors, is -- will the administration propose a tightening, a changing of the definition of what it means to be an independent member of a compensation committee?

Because most companies already are required to adhere by that rule. So what -- it looks...

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: ... fact sheet, and then -- I don't know if that's the one that's not out. Take a look at that, and then let's talk and see if you have questions beyond that.

QUESTION: For something completely different, Mike Rogers is a member of Congress, Republican from Michigan, has come back from Afghanistan and tells our network that, while he was there, he witnessed U.S. military personnel reading Miranda rights to high-value detainees at Bagram detention facility in Afghanistan.

He said this was confirmed (ph) by the military; this is a common practice now, to, upon the capture of these high-value targets, read them the Miranda rights. And he considers this a significant policy change, one that suggests, to him, at least, that the administration has changed the orientation in Afghanistan from warfighting to law enforcement with this use of Miranda rights read to detainees.

Would you care to comment on any of those observations?

GIBBS: I would -- I think I'd need a little bit more information on...

QUESTION: Do you know if that's true or untrue, that Miranda rights are read?

GIBBS: I have no reason to disbelieve a member of Congress.

GIBBS: But I don't know any of the circumstances that are involved around it.

QUESTION: Would it come as a surprise to the White House if that's what would be happening?

GIBBS: It's not a surprise to me. But, again, I -- I think I'd need a little bit more information to begin to surmise some of what the congressman has -- I don't know if he spoke with commanders on the ground. I don't know if he saw General McChrystal or...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... think that's a good idea?

GIBBS: Let me get a little bit -- I'm happy to look at whatever longer form information and get someone in NSC also to look at it.

I hate to speculate on four sentences off of a report.

QUESTION: Just so I understand what you're saying, if -- when you said it wouldn't come as a surprise to you, what did you mean by that?

GIBBS: I'm not surprised by a lot in this town anymore. Let me look at what you're talking about.

QUESTION: You're not -- you're not contesting that that's a policy that's being used? I'm just trying to make sure I understand what you're saying.

GIBBS: I feel like you should be reading me my rights.

(LAUGHTER)

I think -- that's why I'm hoping to get my lawyer.

Again, I'm happy to look at whatever you have and try to give you an informed opinion, based on somebody who's got greater jurisdiction over detainees at Bagram. That's outside of my portfolio.

QUESTION: On justice -- or Judge Sotomayor, forgive me, Republicans have begun to complain about what they consider to be omissions from the questionnaire, gaps in it, information that they think is relevant to the confirmation process, particularly, as they say, in their point of view, it's somewhat more accelerated than they would prefer.

Is the White House satisfied that the questionnaire is complete as it needs to be, number one? And as complete as it's ever going to be?

GIBBS: Well, I think, as is the case with many Supreme Court nominees, additional information based on questions that they have or going back into the record quite some time, for instance, whether it's her work as a district attorney, obviously, that was a number of years ago, those files have to be pulled. And anything that is lacked in the questionnaire will be provided in a timely manner to the committee.

The question is...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... under way. Are you aware...

GIBBS: Yes. Yes. I mean, and again, this is similar to I think in the case of -- of John Roberts, there were thousands of pages that were in archives that ultimately had to be delivered after the original questionnaire was sent to Capitol Hill.

GIBBS: So that obviously is something that seems to be fairly usual.

QUESTION: And when you say "timely basis," what do you mean?

GIBBS: As soon as the information comes from wherever files are being held -- for instance, in her work as a district attorney or other information that's being gathered.

QUESTION: I just want a quick one on health care. You said flexible on everything. Does that mean the president is...

GIBBS: I think Ben said that.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Max Baucus said that and you agreed.

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: I promoted Ben to chairman of the Finance Committee just a minute ago.

QUESTION: But you said that that was something that was a fair representation of what the president said and what the senator said. So I just want to make sure that that also means the president is therefore flexible on the question of taxing benefits.

GIBBS: Take eight -- or 18.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Because Max Baucus, the chairman of the Finance Committee, said yesterday that he considers that not only a live option, but a very good option to provide financing that the White House has conceded may not exist currently. And so having said that in public yesterday, which is a new development since the issue has been raised in this briefing room. OK? That's a new fact.

GIBBS: No. Actually, I think he also said that a week ago, and I got asked about it then. Right?

QUESTION: Your memory may be better than mine on this one.

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: If you (inaudible) that information, I'll look at and we can trade other (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Where is he inflexible?

GIBBS: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: What is he inflexible on?

GIBBS: Well, Chuck (ph), he ran for the presidency a few years ago and is not a member of any of the relevant committees and he's not a legislator and he's not a senator. This is a process that he -- you saw -- wrote a letter based on the principles that he'd like to see as part of health care reform, and he's going to watch what happens on Capitol Hill.

QUESTION: But Senator Baucus said the president was flexible when I asked him specifically about this question.

QUESTION: So I just want to make sure if Senator Baucus is properly interpreting the president's position on this issue...

GIBBS: We are going to wait...

QUESTION: ... heavily debated in the campaign you just referenced.

GIBBS: And heavily answered in the preceding weeks from this very room and this very podium. The president is going to watch what happens on Capitol Hill, and we'll have more to say as it gets closer to us.

QUESTION: Robert, just two questions. One on Ken Feinberg. I think that he's maybe the 20th czar-type position you've named. Just...

GIBBS: No, I think the title is special master.

QUESTION: Right, special master. But in terms of naming these people, bringing them in from the outside to do these jobs, I think you have more than any other administration.

I'm just wondering...

GIBBS: I don't have any special masters.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Well, whatever you're calling them, just the idea of -- I'm just curious, why not use somebody who's already in the administration? Why bring people in from the outside to do this?

GIBBS: I mean, obviously this is -- the seven companies that we're talking about, 100 employees in -- for each of these seven companies, is obviously something that's going to take a great deal of time and somebody -- something that we think is better focused on by the use of a special master.

QUESTION: And just another question about the public plan. As you said, the president's very flexible in all the details of health care, but he has been specific about this one. I mean, he wrote the letter to Congress saying he wants a public plan to be in there.

In terms of how that plan is structured, which is the subject of a lot of debate on the Hill, how robust it is, whether there's a trigger, is it owned by the government or is it a co-op, is he open to all possible...

GIBBS: Again...

QUESTION: ... forms of this public plan or does he have...

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: On this and other questions, I -- though I appreciate the opportunity to comment on every single juncture of the legislative process...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

GIBBS: They seem to be each day I get asked.

GIBBS: We're going to let the process work its way through and get a sense of where we're going.

QUESTION: But Organizing for America, an arm of the DNC, which I would imagine is sympathetic to the overall agenda of this White House and the White House is encouraging of its grassroots effort, is making a very strong public push for a public option in this plan, saying it is consistent with the president's approach.

Doesn't the public have a right to know what the president's general approach...

GIBBS: Yes. And I answered earlier that we -- the president -- that's why the president put it in his letter. That's why the president believes increasing choice through competition is important.

Now, in terms of the design for exchanges and co-ops, I'm just not going to get into doing that each and every day that we're here.

QUESTION: We shouldn't ask about those?

GIBBS: You can...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... the detail every day on this massive...

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: I'm not the special master on press questions. You guys can ask what you want.

QUESTION: But, Robert, with Congress sets a schedule...

GIBBS: You seem to be here each and every day doing it, so, yes.

QUESTION: When Congress sets a schedule of having bills off the floor by the end of July, that gives the public a very limited time to evaluate all the policy implications of what the health care legislation is going to mean in their lives, because very lawmaker has said this is going to affect 100 percent of Americans, doesn't the White House at some point have an obligation to tell the public exactly what it believes should be in the bill that's going to change their lives?

GIBBS: Well, I -- I appreciate the question. I would refer you to the multitude of times in which the president has talked about this. The campaign. The letter that was sent out last week. The fact that there's a town hall tomorrow that I would look forward to your network for the basis by which 100 percent of Americans that watch Fox News will be able to share with the president and those attending the meeting their feelings on health care reform.

I'll do this. I'll watch your network tomorrow to see what percentage of that meeting is shared with 100 percent of the public that you just appropriately asked me about.

QUESTION: Well, (inaudible) how specific he's going to be, maybe we'll take more.

GIBBS: Well, I -- I think the basis of your questions seemed to be that all public information was good, and...

QUESTION: I couldn't agree more.

GIBBS: Well...

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: I can hardly wait. You watch it in my office. We'll watch Fox and see how much they cover tomorrow.

QUESTION: The president has talked...

GIBBS: I think I just set the bar, kind of, high.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... to the speech on Monday. The president has said -- talked to the American people, saying, you know, if you like the health care you have, you get to keep it under my plan. But I haven't really talked that much, particularly, to doctors, which he's going to do on Monday.

Doctors are obviously concerned that their reimbursements will be cut. They're worried, and have worried for a long time about lawsuits and the rising cost of malpractice insurance.

So what is his message to doctors, and what will we be hearing from him?

GIBBS: Well, you know, I -- whether or not there are specifics about hospital reimbursements or malpractice that you talked about, I know that's something that has been talked about in here and talked about in some of the meetings with legislators.

Obviously, health care professionals, writ large, and doctors obviously are as integral as anybody in the delivery of health care and in the practice of health care.

I think, obviously, the president will -- has talked about and will talk about in the speech not just his case for reform but -- and you've heard Peter also talk about this just this week -- how we improve the way health care is delivered, the steps that have been taken as part of the Recovery Act to make those steps easier and more cost-efficient.

I think all of that are things that you'll hear both tomorrow and Monday...

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: ... on Fox.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: But do you have a word on if we'll hear explicitly on reimbursements or...

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... or liability...

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: I have not -- I've not seen the draft to see if there's -- if those specific topics will be covered on Monday or not.

GIBBS: Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: Back on the Holocaust incident, the president just five days ago was in Germany at a very dramatic site. Did he say at all to you, or do you think at all that that visit could get people thinking about the Holocaust and issues, that there's some kind of perhaps backlash of this person at the Holocaust Museum?

GIBBS: Let me separate the two, because I think that's -- I mean, obviously, I think it was for both the president and all of those that were there, an extraordinarily powerful stop and reminder of -- reminder of the horrors that we saw not too long ago.

But without, again, having a conversation with law enforcement about circumstances for why what happened today, I would hate to at this point, based on what I know, connect anything.

Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Is there a candidate in Iran's elections that the White House sees as most conducive to the president's engagement strategy? And how is the White House interpreting this outburst of campaigning (inaudible) towards the elections?

GIBBS: I'm not going to get into candidates. Obviously, the president, as he talked about in Cairo, believes that free and fair elections an the robust task of democracy in picking a government for yourself is -- is tremendously important. As just as I said and he said, it's not just that. It's also how that government reacts.

Obviously, as I have said here, the president was heartened by the increase in activity and turnout relating to the elections in Lebanon, and we'll certainly wait and see what happens this coming week.

David?

QUESTION: Two questions. Does the president have anything to say about the closing of the clinic that was run by George Teller?

GIBBS: I -- I have not talked to him, so I don't know if he has a feeling there.

QUESTION: OK. Second question. The other night, Newt Gingrich said that the elite media has to prop up Joe Biden and pretend he actually knows what he's doing. Any comment on that? GIBBS: Should I speak on behalf of the elite media or the...

Look, the vice president is among the most trusted advisers that the president has. The role he plays is -- is important and very significant, from his efforts to implement the recovery plan through our efforts on foreign policy. We are lucky and grateful to have him, as I think the country is, for his continued service.

QUESTION: Two things on the Holocaust shooting. When you briefed the president, did you have any information about the background of the suspect?

QUESTION: And were you able to convey that at that point?

GIBBS: No. All I -- this was I think around 1:55, almost 2:00. All I had was the detail of somebody had gone in with a gun, shot at a security guard. Security guard shot at the individual that came in.

On the way out, I learned that the -- I think the individual's 89 or 90 years old. But at that point I had -- that's all the background. I didn't have the age, even when I went and talked to the president. And see if he's gotten -- I assume he's gotten additional updates (inaudible) the time we've been (inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: If there -- if there's stuff that the president relays, yes.

QUESTION: (inaudible) 89 or 90? Was that -- who was that age?

GIBBS: That's -- that's what -- that's what I've seen on the way out, was the age of -- of the gunman that entered -- entered the museum.

QUESTION: You saw that on T.V., not -- you didn't...

(CROSSTALK)

GIBBS: I saw that on T.V. I have -- I have not seen -- I have not gotten on -- on e-mail or BlackBerry additional updates while we've been in here.

QUESTION: Did you have indications in that briefing that this was a hate crime?

GIBBS: No. Again, at that point I just was relaying a series of facts.

Do you have a follow-up?

QUESTION: Oh, yes, one on G.M. actually.

Ed Whitacre, the new chair at G.M., told Bloomberg, quote, "I don't know anything about cars. A business is a business, and I think I can learn about cars, I'm not that old and I think the principles are the same."

I guess my question is, what would you say to anyone who might be alarmed that the new G.M. chair doesn't know about cars?

(LAUGHTER)

But, secondly, I mean, is it possibly -- do you look at that as a virtue because he brings a fresh approach?

GIBBS: Well, I mean, you know, I mean, the one company that we haven't talked about in receiving assistance or asked for assistance from the government is Ford. Alan Mulally came from Boeing.

So I think the notion that one has to come from the car industry in order to change the management, mindset or to make tough decisions in restructuring a company, I think what the task force looked for and I think what the American people can be confident in is that we looked for and found somebody that exhibits that toughness, that has experience running a company of the size that G.M. is.

And I think the praise for Mr. Whitacre has been universal since -- since we've talked about or since his name was announced yesterday.

Again, I think, if you look at -- at the experiences of the companies that we've talked in here because they are receiving funds, the company that we didn't talk about I think prior experience in the car industry is -- was not required. What was required was somebody with savvy big business experience that could take a company, change its management culture, make some of those tough decisions to put it on that path toward viability.

Thanks, guys.

END

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