Q&A: Fiscal Summit

do what we know needs to be done and whether we need to create some new mechanisms to deal with these challenges.

Now, I want to make sure that the conversation doesn’t end when we go home today.  We’ve got a lot of hard choices to make.  We need to build off this afternoon’s conversation and work together to forge a consensus.

So one of the things that I’m hoping to do is that my team, each of whom were taking copious notes during the course of these respective breakout sessions, will issue a report or a summary of the conversation.  It will be distributed to each of the participants in those respective discussions.  We will then ask for concrete ideas, either about substance or process, and we will ask that you get those back so that we can then issue a final report coming out of this conversation in 30 days.

And we’re — I think somebody just dubbed this the “fiscal sustainability project,” so that’s as good of a name as any.  And the idea then is, is that there will be a constant loop between the White House and all of you about how we should move forward on this, and hopefully this will start breaking down into some concrete takeaways and tasks.  Some of the recommendations that have been made are already reflected in the budget that we’re proposing.  Some new ideas may have arisen that we did not think of and that can be incorporated as the budget process moves forward in Congress.

And so we are very much looking forward to hearing from your ideas, both about process and about substance.  And then we will in 30 days’ time be able to come out with a series of recommendations.  In some cases there may be some things that we can do by executive order that don’t require legislation, but there seems to be some consensus they are smart things to do.  In other cases, it’s going to require a legislative — some legislative decisions, and we’re going to collaborate closely with the relevant chairs and committees that have jurisdiction.

So, with that, let me just stop.  And what I want to do is just get some comments.  A lot of you have been working hard on this, but I’m going to use my presidential prerogative and call on a couple of people first, and then if other people have comments that they want to offer, please raise your hands.

And I’m going to start with John McCain because — you know, he and I had some good debates about these issues — (laughter) — and I mean what I say here, I think John has also been extraordinarily consistent and sincere about these issues and I want to see if, John, you’ve got some thoughts about where we need to go and some priority areas.  I know you were in procurement, for example, which is an area I know we would like to work on together with you.

SENATOR McCAIN:  Well, thank you, Mr. President,

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