Q&A: Fiscal Summit

process.  This is a good first step, but if this is all we do, it’s a sterile step.

On the other hand, if you really follow up and include everybody in the process, you’re more than likely to get a solution that everybody signs off on.  And I have said or stood behind every President since Reagan in this room at bill signing ceremonies that were the result of consensus.  So I commend you for doing this.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think you’re making an important point.  And, you know, my response, first of all is, I’m not in Congress so I don’t want to interject myself too much into congressional politics.  But I do want to make this point, and I think it’s important — on the one hand, the majority has to be inclusive.  On the other hand, the minority has to be constructive.

And so to the extent that on many of these issues we are able to break out of sort of the rigid day-to-day politics and think long term, then what you should see, I think, is the majority saying, what are your ideas; the minority has got to then come up with those ideas and not just want to blow the thing up.  And I think that on some of these issues, we’re going to have some very real differences and, you know, presumably the majority will prevail unless the minority can block it.  But you’re just going to have different philosophical approaches to some of these problems.

But on the issue that was just raised here on procurement, on the issues — some of the issues surrounding health care, the way it cuts isn’t even going to be Democratic/Republican.  It’s going to be — you know, there may be regional differences, there may be a whole host of other differences.  And if that’s — if we can stay focused on solving problems, then I will do what I can, through my good offices, to encourage the kind of cooperation you’re encouraging.

Way back there, and then I’ll — we’ll go right here to Tom, and then — and then probably that’s going to be it, because I think I’m already over time.

Go ahead.

DR. HARTMANN:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Heidi Hartmann, Institute for Women’s Policy Research.  I just wanted to point out that in the Social Security group, I think there was a fair amount of concession that, given the demographic trends, we’re actually going to need to do some benefit increases for those at the bottom, where we may see poverty increase because we’re going to have more older unmarried women, more older minority people.  And there was even, I think, a fair amount of consensus that therefore we will need to see revenue increases going into the system.  So I thought there was a surprising amount of consensus in the Social Security group.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  Tom.

A PARTICIPANT:  (Inaudible) — thanks very, very much for bringing us together.

A couple of people have said to me, coming into the meeting, that why is the President

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