Feb 7, 2023

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Brian Deese 2/06/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Brian Deese 2/06/23 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsKarine Jean-Pierre White House Press Briefing TranscriptsPress Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Brian Deese 2/06/23 Transcript

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Brian Deese 2/06/23. Read the transcript here.

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Karine Jean-Pierre (00:00):

Good afternoon, everybody. Happy Monday. Okay, so before I introduce our special guest today, I wanted to address the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Today our deepest condolences are with those who have lost loved ones in the devastating earthquakes that have thus far claimed thousands of lives and caused massive destruction in Turkey and Syria. The President authorized an immediate US response in addition to the US personnel currently on the ground. We are in the process of deploying additional teams to support Turkish search and rescue efforts and address the needs of those injured and displaced by the earthquakes. US supported humanitarian partners are also responding to the destruction in Syria. Since the earliest reports of an earthquake last night, American officials have been working closely with our NATO Ally Turkey. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reached out to his counterpart last night. Secretary Austin Spoke and Secretary Blinken have both spoken with their counterparts today. USAID is also coordinating with their Turkish counterparts on traditional assistance. I just wanted to let you know we just found out that we anticipate the President and President Erdoan will have an opportunity to speak very soon and we will certainly have a readout when that conversation occurs.

Finally, I wanted to turn it over to our special guest today, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese. Brian doesn’t really need an introduction as you all know, given I told you all just last week how much we will miss him when he departs later this month to spend more time with his family, which we think is an amazing thing for him and his family and are very happy for him. I will note that I just learned, we all just learned, that today will be his 11th press briefing in front of all of you. And it is an important milestone for many reasons, including being our first guest on the third day of this administration and sharing the podium with BTS, and you also made a pretty funny joke that day. I don’t know if you remember when BTS was here.

But anyway, but today Brian is here to preview the economic themes in the President’s State of the Union address tomorrow. You should have all received a fact sheet just moments ago on those themes. And as well, we will have a press call tomorrow to preview another theme from the President’s State of the Union, his unity agenda. You should have received an invitation to that call also a few minutes ago, and you can all expect additional fact sheets and excerpts ahead of the President’s remarks at 9:00 PM tomorrow. So please keep your eye on your inbox for tomorrow and please tune in tomorrow night at 9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time for the President’s address. With that, Brian.

Brian Deese (02:48):

One of the many things I’ve appreciated is how you all keep us honest, including that day when I followed BTS. I really appreciated how many of you reported at the precipitous decline in viewership when BTS moved out of the briefing room and I took over to talk about economic policies, so thanks.

I just wanted to spend a little bit of time, as Karin said, giving you a preview in a sense of how the President is going to address the economic priorities and economic issues in the State of the Union and then happy to take your questions. I think that the President is hoping to do two things broadly when it comes to the economy in the State of the Union.

The first is to put the progress that we have made economically back into the broader frame that really compelled him to run for President in the first place and the broader frame around what it actually means to pursue what he refers to as a middle out, bottom up economic strategy and make a clear contrast to the trickle down economic philosophy that has pervaded thinking for years and decades in the past. And so you’ll hear him talk about the progress that we have made, but in that context, that this has been an animating part of what the President has wanted to achieve as President and also a real consistent vision that from the campaign to the early days to ongoing, even as we have dealt with variety of unexpected issues that we have had to work through, the President has had a vision about what it could actually mean to grow the economy from the bottom up, and you will hear about that.

Now the striking labor market report that we got on Friday obviously punctuated a historically strong period in the labor market recovery. You all know the statistics, the fact that the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 53 years. But the bottom up nature of the economic recovery is often lost or best seen in lesser understood statistics. And so things like the fact that we have seen this historic burst in people creating new firms, people creating new businesses coming out of the pandemic is not only a source of hope because people don’t do that if they don’t think there’s opportunity in the economy going forward, but a huge source of potential dynamism for our economy that we need to make sure that we don’t fall back into a pre-pandemic equilibrium of low growth, low wage increases, increased inequality. But also the historically equitable nature of this labor market recovery is something that again connects to this idea that the President has always centered on, which is putting workers and families at the center of his economic policy. So it’s not just that we’ve seen the labor market improve this quickly, it’s not just that we’ve seen household balance sheets come out of a crisis in a stronger position than any modern prior recovery, but also the equitable nature of that.

And just to give you one example of that, if you look back historically over the last several recoveries, it’s taken on average 50 months for the black unemployment rate to return to its pre-pandemic level. That happened in this recovery in 24 months, less than half the amount of time. And that record is true if you look across other demographic categories as well. So you’ll hear that about the President trying to put in context the progress that we have made.

But the second thing, just to speak to the work yet to come, and the President uniquely understands that we have a lot more work to do when it comes to the economy, and that even as we’ve seen real progress in inflation coming down over the last six months in particular, we have more work to do to bring prices down, lower costs and create some breathing room as he says for American families. Even as we’ve passed historic legislation that will invest in America and help bring economic opportunity back to places across this country, we have a lot of work to do to actually implement and demonstrate that that kind of investment can unlock economic opportunity in ways that we’re beginning to see all across the country, but we have a lot of that ahead of us.

And we have additional work to do to demonstrate that we can do all of this while being fiscally responsible and while reducing the deficit, something the President has demonstrated in practice over the last two years and that the plan that he will outline in the new policies that he will call for will underscore that we can invest in our country, lower cost for families, and reduce the deficit all at the same time.

Last thing, which is something that is familiar to you all because he’s been saying it since he was a candidate and as soon as he came into office is, he is going to continue to look for every opportunity when it comes to the economy and economic policy to reach out and work with Democrats and Republicans, find practical paths forward, find compromise. It’s something that a lot of people wrote off and I think he has and we have been able to demonstrate that we can make progress on even when people are skeptical of that. But at the same time, he’ll draw some clear lines of things where he’s not prepared to do and we will have to see whether his commitment to work with Republicans or the Republicans are prepared to step up and work with him on a number of economic policy issues.

So I think that’s in broad strokes what you can expect to hear from him tomorrow night when it comes to the economy. And with that, I’m happy to take a couple of questions.

Speaker 1 (08:52):

Brian, congratulations on you tenure. On inflation specifically, a lot of progress has been made and you guys have cited those statistics, but a lot of Americans still aren’t feeling it and polling shows that as well. What kind of message can President Biden give tomorrow night that also gets to the people who feel like, “Yeah, inflation is still really biting”?

Brian Deese (09:16):

I think the core message is we have to make more progress, but people should feel optimism that because of what we have seen and because of the progress that we’ve made, that we know how to keep making progress going forward. So as you said, we have made a lot of progress. Inflation is down now for six months in a row. Obviously a big piece of that is that gas prices have come down and are down by more than a dollar and a half from the summer, but we’re seeing inflation moderate in a variety of other categories as well. And so at the end of the day, this is about can families and workers look and say, “Can I make everything add up at the end of the month?”

And so we need to keep making progress in bringing those price increases moderating, but we also need to keep making progress at lowering costs directly for families. And so that’s one thing you’re going to hear directly from the President that a core part of any viable economic strategy needs to answer the question of, how are you going to keep lowering costs for families? The President will outline specific ideas on how to do that, including building on the prescription drug reforms that we were unable to enact to give more people the relief from prescription drugs, building on proposals that we have put in place to, for example, lower the cost of childcare, lower the cost of caring for an elderly parent, so that also reduces a family’s balance sheet challenges, but also can help more parents, more women work. Those are the kinds of policies that would actually help to continue the progress that we have seen. He’ll outline those and he’ll make clear that that should be our priority, is looking at how do we keep this progress going.

Speaker 2 (10:57):

Thanks a lot. Brian, good luck to you whatever you are pursuing post White House. Can you talk a little bit about how the debt limit will figure into the President’s remarks tomorrow and is that a critical component of the President’s economics message?

Brian Deese (11:13):

Sure. Well I think that what you’ll hear from the President and what is definitely his perspective is that the full faith and credit of the United States, this bedrock idea that the United States has met all of its financial obligations for its existence as a country, isn’t something that anybody should be using as a bargaining chip. It’s not a negotiable item. It’s Congress’ Constitutional obligation, and that’s how everybody should look at it. Not only because it’s a bedrock of American stability, it’s something that our adversaries would look at and say if that was questioned, that might weaken the United States. But also because the economic consequences of even questioning that bedrock principle can be quite severe.

So you’ll hear that clearly from the President and you’ll hear an openness and in fact an eagerness to have a real serious conversation about the fiscal and economic priorities of the country and where we can find common ground on things like lowering costs for families, on things like how do we keep investing in the country and creating more manufacturing jobs, and do that in a way that reduces the deficit. And the President is going to lay out a very clear and detailed plan, his approach for how to do that. He’s eager to see other plans, and then we can have a conversation about that. That’s the kind of conversation you have in a normal budget process, and that’s the appropriate way to approach these things.

Zeke (12:44):

Thanks, Brian. You mentioned a few minutes ago in your response to Jeff, you said the American people should feel optimistic about the direction of the country. Survey after survey shows they don’t and an AP survey over the weekend showed three quarters of Americans view the direction of the economy is heading in the wrong direction. Is that an objective for the President tomorrow night to sort of convince the American public that that they should be seeing things the way you are and not the way they are currently feeling right now?

Brian Deese (13:13):

I think the objective, as is always the case for the President, is to number one, meet the American people where they are with the recognition as I mentioned. That the anxiety and the ongoing challenges that families feel in their lives are the reality of a very challenging period with a pandemic and a war in Europe that drove gas prices up and food prices up and created a lot of uncertainty. And so first and foremost, to meet the American people where they are, but also to help explain why he is optimistic, that if we continue to make the kind of progress that we have, historic progress even with all of the distance that we have yet to travel, then more and more families, more and more communities are going to see economic opportunity and more durable economic opportunity as a result of the policies that we have put in place, as a result of the economic progress that we’re making.

So that’s the way that the President has always approached these things, but we’ll approach it tomorrow is to acknowledge and meet the American people where they are. But also to try to tell a story about where we are going, where we can go together. And it is the case that if you go around the world, if you talk to heads of state, CEOs, other leaders, they will tell you that the United States really is better positioned than almost any other country, that the opportunity to invest in the United States is something that people are enthusiastic about. And that bodes very well for the economy, not only in the very short term, but over the medium term as well.

Speaker 3 (14:58):

Thank you. Thanks, Brian and good luck to you. So related to that, Jeff [inaudible 00:15:04] was brought in large part to implement a lot of the pieces of legislation that were signed into law. So I wonder if you could give us a timeline for when you think Americans really feel the impact of CHIPS, of IRA, of infrastructure. How long is it going to take before those policies really make a difference in the economy? And then secondly, at the top of your memo before the McCarthy meeting, you wrote two questions that you really wanted him to answer, that the President was going to pose to him. Can you tell us if you got those answers about when will they release their budget and will he commit to the bedrock principle that the US won’t default on its debt?

Brian Deese (15:53):

Yeah, so let me take the first question first. And so the first question is we are beginning to see the impact all across the country. And I think that part of the reason why we have seen economic projections over the second half of last year defy many people’s and many more skeptical observers projections. We saw political outcomes defy a lot of people’s projections as well, is that we are beginning to see that. But on all three of the major pieces of legislation, on infrastructure, CHIPS and science, and on the Inflation Reduction Act, 2023 is the year in which the most significant impact will begin to occur. And so these things operate in stages. And so if you live in a community like the Greater Syracuse community in upstate New York or outside in the area around Phoenix, the announcement that there is going to be a big investment in building a facility to manufacture semiconductors is the beginning of a process that is going to change and affect your community across time, beginning with significant new jobs in construction, and then over the course of 12 or 18 months hiring engineers and facility operators and the like, so that will happen across time.

But I think that this is a year of action and investment and implementation where across those areas you’re going to see this unfold in more and more ways. And one of the things that we often show but we use for our own internal planning as well, is just a physical map of the United States where you can see increasingly the commitments of private companies making investments, the grant announcements going in the ways in which they’re going to begin to un-turn. And so that will certainly happen across time. I do expect that this coming year will be a big year on that front.

And the last thing that I’ll say is that this commitment to invest in this country in a way that we haven’t really done for decades is core to the President’s

Brian Deese (18:00):

… president’s bottom up economic philosophy that you have to do that with speed and precision. You need to make sure people understand how it’s done. But you also need to recognize that if we’re really going to rebuild our infrastructure, we’re really going to regain our strategic edge in an area like semiconductors, we also have to be committed to doing it over a multi-year period. Certainly that’s true of other countries while we have been deferring that maintenance and not doing that investment. So, it’s also going to be something that we need to commit to over time.

Speaker 4 (18:27):

And then a [inaudible 00:18:29] memo.

Brian Deese (18:30):

Oh, right. Okay. And so, well, what I would say about the meeting itself is that both the president and the speaker had a constructive and frank exchange. The president clearly laid out his perspective on those issues. And I will say we continue to hope and expect that the house Republicans will put out a budget plan, will bring forward a budget resolution. That is the way that the process works most effectively. And it really is important for the American people and for everyone to see they plan in full detail with numbers that add up. And then just back to the earlier question, this question of honoring the full faith and credit of the United States and everybody who holds an office of trust, being clear that the United States will honor those obligations and will not default on its debt is something the president will continue to make clear and continue to make clear. That’s his expectation of anybody, Republican, Democrat who holds the office.

Speaker 5 (19:36):

The president tomorrow night is going to deliver the broader optimistic look at the State of the Union. Right now in this moment, listening to what you have to say about the economy, what would you say is the state of the economy, just specifically drilling down on the economy?

Brian Deese (19:52):

Yeah. Well, on Friday morning when I was over with the president in South court, he said this, so I will just say what he said on Friday, which is that the state of the economy is strong, and that you see that in the lowest unemployment rate in 53 years, you see that in the most jobs created in the last two years in our country’s history you see that in historic progress in an equitable recovery, you see that in the wage growth that we have seen being disproportionately going to those in the lower half of the income distribution. And so even with all of the distance we have to travel and the understandable and important anxieties that families still face, and the need to bring prices down further, I think that he feels, and we all feel that we have an economy that is resilient, an economy that has been through an extraordinary amount and defied a lot of the skeptics expectations over the last two years.

Speaker 5 (20:50):

And another question, since police reform, this renewed call for police reform is supposed to be very strong in this State of the Union address, have you done the numbers? Have you crunched numbers for this about the cost of bad policing to this nation, be it lawsuits, be it DOJ investigations, pattern and practice, et cetera? Have you done the numbers crunching on that? Would it actually cost the American taxpayer with these incidents that continue to happen?

Brian Deese (21:21):

I don’t have a specific analysis to point you to, but what I would say is certainly it’s the case that funding the type of evidence-based interventions that we know work in communities across the country is both absolutely the thing we need to do as a country, but also has a broader economic dividend as well.

Speaker 10 (21:47):

Go ahead.

Speaker 6 (21:49):

Thanks [inaudible 00:21:50], and congratulations on the next step that you’re going to take. So last week, the Federal Reserve Chairman said that COVID is no longer playing an important role in our economy. Is the president going to make that pivot for policies and whatnot going forward?

Brian Deese (22:04):

Well, I think you’ve heard… I mean, you’ve from the president, you’ve heard from this administration that because of the progress that we have made on COVID, it no longer is holding back our economy and the lives of the American people in ways that it was in fundamentally debilitating ways two years ago, three days into the administration when I came to this podium. The reason why we’re in that place is in no small part because this president and members of Congress work together to prioritize putting the historic strategy in place to actually get the country vaccinated and make workplaces safe for people to return. And so I think the fact that we where we are right now is a testament to the hard work of actually prioritizing getting and a plan to get the pandemic under control. And certainly, I think our policies reflect that, including the announcement of about how to responsibly wind down the pandemic emergency authorities.

Speaker 6 (23:10):

The administration and the Department of Justice is using that, COVID hardship, economic hardship as a reason for student debt forgiveness. So, does that policy then come off the table?

Brian Deese (23:19):

No, I think the legal and the practical justification for student debt forgiveness is about the impact that this pandemic has had on individual’s personal circumstances. And certainly, those impacts which have accumulated over the course of the last couple of years are profound, they’re straightforward, and I think that that persists even as we make progress through getting to new stages of this pandemic.

Speaker 7 (23:52):

Thanks, Brian. And another polling question, and I know you touched on it a little bit with some of my colleagues’ questions. You mentioned how the president said Friday that the state of the economy is strong. We had a pullout over the weekend, ABC News, that found that 41% of Americans say they’re worse off financially now than before this president took office. How do you explain the disconnect there of why this administration’s message about the strong economy is not getting through?

Brian Deese (24:20):

Right. So, I think the poll that you just cite is actually consistent. So, about two thirds of Americans say that their circumstances are better than before. You can say it either way. And I think that it is the case that if you look at the kind of key measures of basic economic security, do I have health insurance? Do I have $400 in the bank in case my car breaks down or I have another emergency expense? Am I late or delinquent on a credit card bill? Am I facing foreclosure? If you look at all of those measures, on average American households are in a better position than they were before the pandemic hit. And that’s true for the lower income quartiles as well. And so I think that that is in part reflected in the data that you’re saying, is that more Americans believe they’re in a better economic position in terms of their own balance sheet, their own family balance sheet.

And at the same time, in the way that we were talking about before, this has been a very challenging period with the pandemic and all of the ways in which the second and third order ways in which that’s affect our lives and the way that we operate in the economy, with the war in Ukraine and the cascading impacts on supply chains and on the ways it affects the basic price of things that people pay in the grocery store. And so for all those reasons, it’s understandable that even as personal household circumstances for the majority of people have improved, the economic anxiety is real. So, I just go back to the answer I gave before, which is why the president will both speak directly to the fact that we have more work to do, but also underscore how the progress we have made to date can paint a picture to move forward, and why we should than commit to the proposition of seeing these policies and this policy vision through.

Speaker 8 (26:24):

She basically [inaudible 00:26:26].

Speaker 9 (26:26):

Yeah, I mean-

Speaker 8 (26:27):

Building off that same question, I guess when you’ve been asked variations on the perceptions of voters are having in the economy, but when do people start feeling more optimistically about the outlook? And just to clarify on the staff that was just cited, it’s only 16% of those in the poll believe they’re financially better off than when Biden entered the office, the White House. It’s 42% feel about the same. So just to clarify, it’s only 16% are feeling better off. Yeah. So when do more people start feeling better off about the financial future of the country?

Brian Deese (27:08):

Well, look, I think that… I don’t want to repeat myself only to say we have more work to do. But if you look at the progress that we have made, particularly the recent progress that we have made with inflation coming down, gas prices coming down, real wages as a result going up, and the labor market opportunities that come from a historically strong job market, those are all reasons why we should continue down the path of the progress that we have made. Ultimately, the ultimate, test of an economic policy and an economic outcome is whether families feel more economic security in their lives. And if you look at numerous measures, as we just discussed, we have come through this recovery, recovering people’s economic security historically fast and historically equitable. And we have to keep making progress on that.

Speaker 10 (28:12):

Fellow in the back. [inaudible 00:28:13]

Speaker 11 (28:14):

The president has a lot of good news to tout tomorrow, low unemployment, reinvestment in manufacturing. I’m wondering though if you can help us get a better sense of his thinking on a lingering problem. The other day when he was asked about inflation, he said that it was, “already there when I got here.” Of course, inflation when he arrived on inauguration day was at 1.4%. So, did the president misspeak or was he referring to more inherent challenges when he made that statement?

Brian Deese (28:47):

Look, the core of what we’ve seen in this economy has been a pandemic driven economic crisis and a pandemic affected recovery. And that pandemic, when he came here, was raging out of control, and there was no strategy, economic strategy to actually drive a recovery in the economy and drive a recovery in the pandemic. And I think that as we look back, the principle drivers of inflation have been the pandemic globally, and subsequent shocks to the system, the most significant of which was the war in Ukraine. And so that’s where the sort of core drivers have been, and that’s, as a result, how we have oriented our economic policies. And I think that arc and that trajectory is one that now being on the other side of it, we are making progress. And globally, as inflation is a challenge everywhere, the United States is one of the places where we’re seeing one of the strongest and most resilient labor market recoveries with inflation coming down as well.

So yeah, I think that that’s the historical context in which the president was speaking, and certainly it’s the context in which we’ve been designing and implementing our policies.

Speaker 12 (30:04):

Thank you. Can you just go back to the Friday jobs report, Goldman has a report out today saying, I think the odds of a recession are falling in next 12 months to 25%, may now peg the odd out from 35%. What do you think the odds are of a recession right now? And do you think that they’re improving given that jobs statement? Are you more hopeful of a soft landing?

Brian Deese (30:23):

Look, the way I’ll answer that question is to go back to a point I made earlier about the importance of this president having a consistent and clear economic vision. If you go back seven, eight months ago when we laid out our strategy for how to effectuate a transition to more steady stable growth, which meant trying to bring inflation down, maintain a resilient and strong labor market, a lot of people at the time, a lot of projections at the time said that wasn’t possible, that wasn’t feasible, that the economy would likely be in recession now in the first quarter of this year. And I think that over the course of this period of time, we’ve seen inflation come down, we’ve seen the labor market remain resilient, we’ve seen real wages go, and we’ve find ourselves today in an economy where we have real resilience, real resilience here.

And so as we look forward, the takeaway that we take is less to look at the infinite predictions that are out there, that we study those analysis is along with others, and instead to redouble our efforts to actually implement a policy agenda that we know and we have seen has really helped to bring this progress along. So, that’s where our focus is.

Speaker 12 (31:48):

You don’t think [inaudible 00:31:50] status quo?

Brian Deese (31:52):

I think if you look over the course of the last three months, it would be hard pressed not to say that the economic data has come in in a way that is spoke to inflation cooling in a more resilient labor market than most people thought was possible.

Speaker 12 (32:07):

And a bit of a tricky question, they haven’t obviously announced your successor yet. We don’t know when that will be. One of the rumored candidates has been the vice chair of the Fed. Have you been part of any conversations at the White House about how that process would go in replacing or filling any Fed candidacy? And would existing governors be candidate for the vice chair? Would you be looking outside to fill the vice chair position?

Brian Deese (32:29):

So, the president hasn’t made a decision. I’m not going to speak to or get ahead of the president making a decision on that front, so I’m going to leave that to him.

Speaker 13 (32:39):

Thank you, Brian. The Federal Reserve increased rates and signaled more rate hikes. Is the president concerned about rising borrowing costs for businesses, for consumers? And how is this going to impact his economic plan going forward?

Brian Deese (32:54):

Well, I think it’s an important question and it connects to just… I’ll bring it back to where we started this briefing, which is the president’s view is that the most important things we can do for the economy right now to sustain this historic recovery, transition to not only get back to the pre-pandemic equilibrium, but to have an equilibrium where we have stronger, more resilient growth, higher productivity gains, stronger and more broadly shared wage gains is to actually invest in this country and lower cost for families. And so that’s particularly important at a time where the financial pressures on families and household balance sheets are acute, and to do that in a way that is consistent with this transition that we need to have.

And we have a policy model for how to do that. In fact, the Inflation Reduction Act was, at its core, about lowering costs that families face the actual monthly costs that they face for prescription drugs or for healthcare, lowering the clean energy costs that they face, while also reducing the deficit at the same time. So, we know that we can do this. We just passed a historic piece of legislation to this effect. And so in areas from childcare to housing to otherwise, you’ll hear proposals from the president that have exactly that structure. How do we lower the costs on a family’s balance sheet and do it in a way that actually supports the macroeconomic transition we need?

Speaker 14 (34:15):

Thanks. Brian, I wanted to ask you if we should expect to hear anything from the President tomorrow night about the solvency of Social Security and Medicare. Will we have a comprehensive plan? Will we hear about it tomorrow night?

Brian Deese (34:24):

So, I think what you can expect to hear from the president is his values and his orientation on this issue, which is he thinks that it is not something that he would support, to cut either of those programs, and that there are ways that we can strengthen those programs and actually increase the ways in which they help the American people, while also bringing down the deficit at the same time. So, you can certainly expect to hear from him a pretty clear posture when it comes to those programs.

Speaker 14 (35:00):

Specifics that address the solvency question?

Brian Deese (35:02):

Well, I think there’ll be a period between the State of the Union and the budget. And so I think you’ll hear from the president speaking about his principles and his vision tomorrow. And then I think you can expect that you’re going to see a lot of detail about the President’s policies in his budget.

Speaker 15 (35:22):

Thanks. In the speech, will he directly express optimism of the US won’t hit a recession? Is that something he’ll address directly? And then on a separate issue, I think you’re set to meet with the French and German economic ministers here tomorrow. They’re raising concerns about the subsidies in the IRA. What’s your message to them going to be? And what’s the latest in terms of how the US might accommodate concerns in Europe?

Brian Deese (35:47):

So in the first question, I think you’ll hear the President is optimistic about America’s future because he believes in the American worker and the grit and resilience of the American people, and that’s a message

Brian Deese (36:01):

…. which he will communicate clearly. And with respect to your second question, our message is pretty clear, which is that Europe and other allied countries have nothing to fear from the Inflation Reduction Act and quite a bit to gain. And that when the United States steps up and makes the most significant investment in clean energy and energy security ever in the history of the country, one of the many things that it does is to actually accelerate the reduction in cost of deploying next generation energy technologies that are critical for the world.

And that those benefits are felt far outside the United States, number one. And number two, we have nothing to apologize and frankly everything to be proud about that, that is a piece of legislation that provides long-term technology neutral incentives to invest in the United States and particularly in communities that have borne the brunt of pollution or have been at the front end of producing traditional fossil energy.

That’s the right thing to do for the country. It’s the right thing to do for our clean energy manufacturing base. It’s the right thing to do for American workers. And the President’s quite proud of that approach. So we’ll continue to work through those pieces. But I think the important piece is to keep our eye on the fact that the United States is now leading and other like-minded countries should both recognize that and also seek opportunities to partner with us. That’s certainly something we’re open to.

Speaker 16 (37:35):

Putting aside the responsibility you may bear for BTS, taking a break shortly after appearing with you at the briefing.

Brian Deese (37:43):

They were shocked when we closed. It’s a correlation causation.

Speaker 16 (37:45):

Yeah, I figured as much. But on a serious note, a lot of the optimism is based on the legislative agenda that you guys signed into law after the first two years. But implementation, while it’s kind of an abstract concept, also brings challenges. When you look into the months or years ahead when it comes to implementing that agenda, what challenges do you think the administration’s going to have to confront and how capable do you think they are with the tools they currently have to overcome any implementation challenges?

Brian Deese (38:10):

Yeah, well even the word implementation, it sort of sounds technocratic. This really is about investing in America, because it’s about using public investment, grants or tax incentives to crowd in and unlock an enormous amount of private investment across the country. And you’re right. And the priority has to be on doing that efficiently and effectively and with the policy goals in the American people in mind.

I think certainly it’s going to require as a country that we do things differently, do business differently. It’s one of the reasons why the President has been so supportive of permitting reform and while we are looking at the tools we have, the executive tools that we have to accelerate the process, we need to demonstrate to the American people and the world that we can build faster, more efficiently and more equitably than we’ve done in the past.

And while that’s a challenge, I feel really quite confident and optimistic that we have the tools in place. Congress has given us the tools across those three pieces of legislation. We have extraordinary talent and capability across the executive branch. And there’s been a lot of, now because these laws have passed, a lot of mobilization happening at the state and local level with companies and otherwise organizing around this collective effort.

So no question there will be challenges and there will be setbacks along the way. But I think that that collective effort of investing in America will just end on the note of it also is it summons a larger national project. Again, one that we haven’t really taken on as a country since the 1960s around collectively understanding the impact of what it means to invest across years in upgrading our infrastructure, changing the face of the country, whether it’s electric vehicle charging stations or whether it’s being able to say we committed to the proposition that we were going to eliminate lead pipes from schools and homes across the country.

And then being able to see many years down the road. And that also creates the opportunity for people to feel, and we’ve been talking about pulling this sense of pride in the United States that we can do big things and we can do big things collectively and that that’s part of the potential here.

Karine Jean-Pierre (40:27):

This has gone for a long time because this is 11th precinct, but I’m going to [inaudible 00:40:32].

Speaker 17 (40:31):

Do you have any comment on the billions of dollars that went to [inaudible 00:40:37] administration?

Karine Jean-Pierre (40:34):

Gentlemen in the back?

Speaker 17 (40:37):

Mr. Deese, do you have any comment on the fraud that took place-

Karine Jean-Pierre (40:38):

What? Hold on. I didn’t call on you.

Speaker 17 (40:38):

… on the COVID money?

Karine Jean-Pierre (40:40):

I didn’t call on you. Kelly L.?

Speaker 17 (40:41):

Billions of dollars went to protest-

Karine Jean-Pierre (40:42):

Go ahead. Kelly L.?

Kelly L. (40:44):

Thank you for taking so many questions and we all appreciate that. And we hope your successor will too, and we do really appreciate it. A number of them dealt with this perception issue of how Americans are feeling differently than a lot of the positive data you have. Is there a perception issue in the other direction on inflation? Because when the President says he’s not responsible for inflation, that it’s a global issue and things like that. Is there a problem or maybe a gap somewhere in how the White House views inflation when so many Americans feel it on a daily and weekly basis when they’re having to meet their obligations? Is there a perception gap on inflation here?

Brian Deese (41:28):

No, not at all. I mean, you have a President who has gone out and said that his top economic priority is to bring down inflation. You have a President that prioritized working with Congress to pass a bill called the Inflation Reduction Act, which as we talked about before, was designed specifically to lower the cost of people’s prescription drugs, lower healthcare costs, lower clean energy costs.

And you have a President that has been tireless about working on those issues that connect most directly to the lived experience of people across the country. The efforts, which I won’t, we’ve talked about at this podium around trying to help bring gas prices down in the wake of Putin’s invasion, from things very visible in public like the historically strategic petroleum reserve to things the President is doing every day behind the scenes diplomatically with our allies and partners on those sets of issues.

And as a result, in no small part because of those efforts, we’re now seeing progress. That progress is not sufficient. We need to keep making more progress, but the President is actually focused today on those issues and that’s what you’re going to hear. How can we keep making progress to reduce lower costs for people?

And I would say this I think also is an area of contrast that the President will highlight, which is that he wants this economic conversation to focus on how we can keep reducing costs for the American people and doing things like cutting taxes for the very wealthiest people in the country and increasing the deficit as a result of that, not only are bad economic policy, but they don’t speak in any way to that core issue.

So I think the President is very much focused on that issue. He’s shown that he can actually work to deliver results and is going to keep arguing why we need to make more progress in that.

Karine Jean-Pierre (43:17):

Very last question to the general.

Speaker 19 (43:19):

Thank you Speaker McCarthy clearly believes Democrats in the White House will give Republicans some concession for raising the debt limit. I’m wondering why Democrats would negotiate at all over that debt ceiling?

Brian Deese (43:31):

So we’ll just circle back. I think I’ve answered elements to this before. It’s important to distinguish between two things. One is the full faith and credit of the United States government and the sacrosanct nature of that commitment and the core commitment that the US needs to pay its bills and any sense that the United States is going to fail to meet that obligation has enormous economic and national security ramifications that no, we cannot get close to.

Separate from that issue, having a conversation about fiscal policy, having a conversation about how we can reduce the deficit responsibly while also keeping our focus on lowering cost for families is something that the President is eager to have. And frankly, the way to have that conversation is for the President to put out his budget plan, for House Republicans to put out their budget plan and then to have a conversation around those two.

So that’s why you’ve heard the President and the administration both commit that we will do that. We’ll put out a budget, we’ll put out a very detailed budget here in the next month. And our hope and expectation is that the House Republicans will do the same.

Speaker 19 (44:48):


Karine Jean-Pierre (44:49):

All right. Thank you so much, Deese.

Speaker 17 (44:49):

Any comment on the COVID probe?

Brian Deese (44:49):

All right.

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:49):

Thank you so much.

Brian Deese (44:49):

Thank you all.

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:50):

Thank you, Deese. All right.

Speaker 20 (44:53):

Will you be shaving?

Karine Jean-Pierre (44:55):

That’s a good question. All right. Thank you, so much. And one more thing before we head into questions. I also wanted to highlight that today the Vice President is convening private sector leaders as part of the public-private partnership she launched in 2021, to address the root causes of migration from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

The Vice President is announcing that this partnership has generated more than 4.2 billion in private sector investments. These investments are creating economic opportunity for people in those countries so that they are less inclined to leave their homes and take the dangerous journey to the United States.

These are long-term development efforts, but we are already seeing encouraging trends. Illegal border crossing from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have significantly declined over the past 18 months. That’s in addition to the impact of the border enforcement measures President Biden announced just last month, which have resulted in a dramatic decline in illegal border crossing with Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti and Cuba.

All told we are now seeing the lowest number of illegal crossing between ports of entry since February of 2021. It doesn’t mean our work is done as you all know, we still have more work to do and we’re going to keep at it. But unlike Republicans in Congress who simply pull the political stunts and try to get in the way, we’ve got an actual plan to address these very challenging issues. And as you see, as I just laid out, our plan is indeed working.

All right. Go ahead Zeke, kick us off.

Zeke (46:37):

Thanks, Karine. Just a bit of housekeeping. Do you have an update on when the President will be coming back from Camp David, is there a reason for his delay?

Karine Jean-Pierre (46:42):

No. No update on when he’s going to be returning. I think we had mentioned, and you probably saw his Twitter account this weekend, just laying out how on social media, how the President was going to Camp David to focus on his speech for tomorrow night. I just don’t have an update on his return and I’m sure it’ll be sometime this afternoon.

Zeke (47:03):

A different topic, in the wake of the balloon operation NSE and the administration has said that it’s going to brief members of the Trump administration on that. Can you give us a list of which Trump administration members would be eligible for that briefing? I mean, is former President Trump eligible since the President had previously blocked him from getting classified briefings after he left office.

Karine Jean-Pierre (47:24):

So as we mentioned, and you heard my colleagues from NSC that we are prepared, the intelligence committee is indeed prepared to offer key officials as you are just laying out from the Trump administration on the briefings on this PRC surveillance program. And so don’t have, we’re not going to get into who are those key officials from here. I would refer you to the intelligence community on those logistics, on when it’s going to happen and who those key officials would be.

But again, we are prepared, we are willing to have that conversation to do the briefing, but just not going to get into the specifics of who.

Zeke (48:03):

Third topic, number of surveys, including from AP over the weekend showed that a majority of Democrats don’t want the President to seek reelection. They are looking for a new generation and concerns about his age. Without getting into whether or not the President will announce, does the President believe that he has to address those concerns from his own constituents?

Karine Jean-Pierre (48:24):

So as you just laid out, I’m going to be very careful covered by the Hatch Act, don’t want to get into the specifics of what 2024 is going to look like or any underlying components of that. The President has been very clear, he intends to run. And I think the way that we should look at this is what we saw from the midterms. I think that’s a big, really important point there, where the President laid out the policy. He’s the one that laid out the policy for senators and congressional members to really have a midterms that did not lead to a red wave.

We saw what happened in the Senate. We saw that yes, Republicans now have Congress, but by a slim majority we were told it was going to be more than 60 seats and it’s not that at all. And that’s because the President went out there, spoke directly to the American people and laid out what it is that we have done the last two years, how we’ve built. You’ve heard from Brian Deese just moments ago, he took many, many questions laying out the President’s economic plan, how it’s working, but how there’s still more work to do.

But essentially talking through the different policies, the different policies that became legislation that turned into law, that was historic. And all of those pieces matter. And I think the State of the Union, he’ll have an opportunity to speak directly to the American people, not just Congress, to talk about what we have done the last, what he has done the last two years and how he sees the future of this country.

And so I’m not going to get into what the President should respond to. I think the President always says this, watch him, watch him and see what he does. And I think he has a record over the last two years that shows that he has delivered. And that’s the numbers that we’re going to pay attention to.

We’re going to pay attention to unemployment, how it’s been down more than 53 years, a historic unemployment. We’re going to pay attention to more than almost 12 million jobs that has been created under this President. We’re going to pay attention to the 800,000 manufacturing jobs that has been created under this President. And I think that’s what we’re going to continue to work on and that’s what we’re going to continue to speak to.

Speaker 18 (50:26):

Thanks, Karine. Some State of the Union preparations questions. Can you tell us what the President was doing at Camp David this weekend? What did those preps look like? Who is he working with? Is he still in major rewrites at this point or just kind of fine-tuning, doing run-throughs? What was the weekend like for him?

Karine Jean-Pierre (50:43):

So one of the things that I’ve said, I said this last week is that as you know, when it comes to big speeches like this, there’s going to be probably tweaks to the speech until the last minute. That’s kind of how it goes. But I’ll say more generally, or actually speaking to your question about Camp David, the President was accompanied by several of his senior aides. Work has gone into the speech over the course of many, many weeks as we know because again, this is something that the President truly sees as a moment to speak to the American people.

And the work continued the weekend, through the weekend as it did today. Michael Donlon was there, Bruce Reid was also there with him. Steve Ricchetti, Anita Dunn, and Vinay Reddy, as you’ll know, is his speech writer. And so that was kind of the makeup of the weekend and certainly not going to get ahead of anything else from here.

Speaker 18 (51:35):

And how has the President approached this speech, given the different dynamic in the House chamber tomorrow night with the Republican majority compared to his speech last year? This is a Republican majority that’s launched multiple investigations into his administration. How is he thinking of that as he goes to give this speech tomorrow night?

Karine Jean-Pierre (51:52):

Well, as you know, the President is heavily, as I’ve said many times, heavily engaged in the writing process. When you hear the speech, you’re certainly hear… There’ll be no question that this is a Joe Biden State of the Union speech. So just want to make that really clear. But don’t want to get ahead of what you’re going to hear from him. And so again, it’s going to be about ensuring our accomplishments and what we’ve done the last two years.

He’ll talk about that clearly, he’ll lay that out. And I’ve also said this before, this is a President that’s incredibly optimistic and he talks about the possibilities. He talks about not betting against the American people. And so you’ll continue to hear those types of kind of themes in his speech. But of course I’m not going to get into specific issues or the political moment that we’re in, as he’s still working through and dealing with the speech for tomorrow. [inaudible 00:52:47].

Speaker 16 (52:46):

Thanks, Karine. The administration officials said that after the balloon was shot down, there were communications between the administration and their Chinese counterparts kind of detailing maybe rationale on the why. Can you talk about how you guys are thinking through the next steps in this relationship, given the cancellation of Secretary Blinken’s visit? And obviously, it would seem to be a pretty brazen act over the course of the last week.

Karine Jean-Pierre (53:08):

So look, our approach with China has been pretty clear and we’ve been very, very clear about this, that… And it will continue to be calm, resolute, and practical. That is not going to change on how we’re going to move forward with our relationship with China, with our diplomatic conversations as we move beyond this. The President has been clear, we have been and will continue to keep open lines of communications with China.

As you mentioned, Blinken and Jake Sullivan and many others have continued those dialogues, especially after last week. In fact, like I was mentioned, there was multiple levels of conversation about their surveillance balloon and again, communicated directly with China after we took our action to bring the balloon down.

So again, multiple channels of communication that will continue. China’s, we

Karine Jean-Pierre (54:00):

… we believe irresponsible action were visible for the American and the world to see. Not only that – at the same time, a second PRC surveillance balloon was seen traversing Latin America. That’s one thing that you all reported. And it’s up to China to show it is serious about its words of being a responsible country that it wants to build on the meeting that the President had with President Xi very recently.

And so it’s up to China to figure out what kind of relationship that they want. And as you know, yes, Secretary Blinken did postpone his trip; it was not canceled. And when the time permits, we’ll see that trip back on the books. But again, it doesn’t change what we are trying to do and how we’re trying to move with China. It’s up to them.

Speaker 16 (54:48):

And then, just one more. On Saturday when the President spoke just off of Air Force One, he seemed very definitive in making clear that he was the one who said explicitly, “I want this to be shot down.” Military leader suggested to wait. Was that a reflection perhaps and frustration in terms of the political attacks you guys have gotten from Republicans who said this should have happened on the front end as opposed to the back end?

Karine Jean-Pierre (55:07):

Well, just a couple of things. I know there was a TikTok that went out to all of you from the National Security Council that was pretty detailed on how everything kind of broke down for the past week and how things flowed. I’ll give a little truncated version of that.

On Tuesday, the President – through the National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan – directed the military to refine and present options to shoot the balloon down immediately. The President also directed the military and the intelligence community to collect against the balloons so that we would learn more about China’s capabilities and trade craft.

At the same time, we protected against Chinese intelligence collection because we knew exactly where the balloon was going. The military recommended taking the balloon down over water following the determination by military commanders that there was undue risk of debris causing harm to civilians while the balloon was over overland in Alaska, Canada or the continental United States.

On Wednesday, the President directed the military to take it down at the first available opportunity when it could be done with safety, especially as we’re thinking about Americans lives and being safe there, while maximizing our ability to recover the payload. Shooting the balloon down over water wasn’t just the safest option, it maximized the chance of recovering the payload, giving us a better chance to get information from the Chinese surveillance balloon payload.

But I think the bottom line here, and this is something that we want to make very clear, is that look, what China did was unacceptable. We protected civilians and we gained more intel while protecting our own sensitive information. And so I laid that out so you have an understanding of how this past week went. And the President, as we all know, is not just the President, he’s also the Commander-in-Chief and his number one priority is making sure that American lives are protected and that we protect citizens in this country. But at the same time, we wanted to make sure that we were able to collect some data, which we were able to do and that’s why we took that action. And the President made sure we took that action.

Speaker 21 (57:15):

Thanks, Karine. How much damage would you say has been done to the US-China relationship because of this and do you expect the President to bring this topic up in his speech tomorrow night?

Karine Jean-Pierre (57:26):

Look, I will say this: As we know, when it comes to the State of the Union speech, foreign policy is always a topic in that speech. I’m not going to get ahead of the President what he’s going to speak to. As it relates specifically to China, I just laid out at the top that it is going to be up to China. It’s up to China to see how they want to see this relationship moving forward. And so I’ll leave it there.

Speaker 21 (57:51):

Let me ask you one more broad question about the State of the Union address. We heard Brian Deese’s take on the economic terms. Obviously foreign policy will also be a theme. Can you just give us a broad brush answer on what does President Biden hope to achieve with his speech tomorrow night?

Karine Jean-Pierre (58:08):

So, and I’ve said this before, so this doesn’t change much at all – is that the President sees this moment as a critical moment, an important moment to speak directly to the American people, to talk about the last two years, to talk about where we’ve been and where we’re going. And that is important to the President. That doesn’t change.

This is his second State of the Union speech. Certainly not going to get into issues and get ahead of the President, but the President will underscore the progress we have made during one of the most challenging times, especially in history and the progress the American people want us to continue to make by working together in this year ahead.

You just heard from Brian outline how the President has carried out his economic vision, growing the economy from the bottom up middle out instead from the top down. One of the things that you have seen this President do, he has transformed how we see the economy. When you think about the trickle-down economy, he sees it again, bottom up, middle out. This is something that the President has done with the policies that he’s put forward.

And so that is something that you’re going to continue to hear from him, continue to hear from him about giving the American people a little bit more of a breathing room. Because this is something that he understands personally. So, tomorrow is going to be a big opportunity for the President again, to speak directly to the American people, the millions of people who will be watching and who will be wanting to hear from their President. And he takes this incredibly seriously. Go ahead, Michael.

Michael (59:42):

So, I wonder if I could follow up a little bit on Zeke’s third question. I think you made the assertion that the reason that there wasn’t a red wave or the reason that the elections and the midterms were more successful than many people thought they would be for Democrats is because of the President. That’s a fair-

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:00:01):

Yeah, and we’ve said that before. It’s nothing new. We think the President played a very big role in laying out the message for Democrats.

Michael (01:00:09):

I wonder how, in light of the following poll, you can make that assertion. This is a recent NBC poll. Is Biden honest and trustworthy? 34%, yes; 48%, no. Ability to handle a crisis. 32%, yes; 49%, no. Competent and effective. 31%, yes; 49%, no. Has the necessary mental and physical health to be president. 28%, yes; 54%, no. Uniting the country. 23%, yes; 50%, no.

Given that poll, which is not just a single poll, it’s been versions of that have been repeated in poll after poll, survey after survey since the midterm elections and before. And I think one of my colleagues referenced a recent poll that said 60 something percent more Democrats don’t want President Biden to be their nominee than Republicans don’t want President Trump to be their nominee.

So, given all of that, why are you so convinced that it was President Biden that caused the Democratic success in the midterms and not that the Democrats had success in spite of the President?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:01:21):

Well, I’ll say this: Because if you look at what candidates, senators and congressional members ran on, it was the successes that the President had. It was on the bipartisan infrastructure legislation. It was on the CHIPS and Science Act, which was bipartisan because of the President was able to make that happen. It was because of the Inflation Reduction Act. If you hear the message that was coming out of Democrats during the midterms, it was what we were able to deliver.

So yes, so that’s what they used. They used exactly what the President was able to do in order to get that success. And so, it is, if you think about all of the pieces of historic legislation that became law clearly that we did last year, again, the President led that. And the President went out there and spoke on these very important pieces of historic legislation. When you think about what it’s done for the economy, what it’s done for the American people, how it’s provided some relief, yeah, I think the President did play a big role.

Michael (01:02:25):

So then just one quick follow up. I guess does it suggest then that maybe the Democrats who were talking about the President’s agenda have been more successful at talking about the President’s agenda than the President himself has been?

And does that make it all the more important tomorrow and whenever the President rolls out his reelection committee, if he does, but does it make it that much more important for the President to somehow find a way to communicate as effectively as I guess some of these other Democrats were? Because obviously however he is communicating now isn’t translating.

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:02:59):

So, I’ll say, look, I’ll say this, Michael and Brian spoke to this. I think he got this question every which way from your colleagues and a very important question to ask. But I’ll say this, we understand and it is true that the American people are feeling inflation. They’re feeling what the pandemic and COVID has done the last two, three years.

And so we understand that they’re going to have some feelings about the economy right now. And so that is something that the President has always acknowledged and has said there’s always more work to do. But also, the reality is, if you look at the data, if you look at how the economy has bounced back because of this work that the President has done, and Brian spoke to this, I have spoke to this, when you think about record 12 million jobs, when you think about unemployment at the lowest that it’s been in 54 years, when you think about the 800,000 manufacturing jobs and how important the CHIPS and Science Act is going to continue to be as we see manufacturers coming back to the US, those are real data points.

Those are real things that has occurred these past two years and it’s because of the President. And so, look, we get where the American people are, but what we are going to focus on are the numbers that I just laid out and that is also important.

Will we continue to need to talk directly to the American people? Absolutely. That’s why the State of the Union, we see it as an important moment to lay out for the President, to lay out how he sees the country moving forward, and also to remind folks and lay out what he has done the last two years.

There’s no easy answer there. I get where you’re getting to, but this is an incredibly complicated time. What the President’s going to focus on is how he’s going to continue to deliver for the American people.

Speaker 22 (01:04:39):

Thank you, Karine. Thanks. Is this the first Chinese balloon that the US identified flying over US airspace under this administration?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:04:50):

So what I can say is that we have talked about China’s balloon program. We have, generally on this, the Chinese surveillance balloons program has been around for some time. We even briefed Congress this past August. So I don’t have any specific on any other balloon during this President’s administration, but there has been a program that has been in effect. We have kept Congress abreast on that. But that I don’t have anything more to say or to share.

Speaker 22 (01:05:24):

How is it possible that this administration discovered at least three previous balloons that flew over the US under the previous administration, but Trump officials didn’t know it was happening?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:05:38):

Yeah, so, look, I think that, and we’ve talked about this before about how when PRC government surveillance balloons transited the continental US briefly at least three times, as you just mentioned, during the President’s prior administration, and once that we know of the beginning of this administrations, but never for this duration of time as we know, this information was discovered prior to the administration left.

But the intelligence community, as I said, is prepared to give briefings to key officials. But this is something-

Speaker 23 (01:06:17):

Prior or post?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:06:19):

Sorry, post. But this is something that they were not aware of, as we’ve just laid out. But again, we are ready to brief key officials to let them know what the intelligence community was able to figure out.

Speaker 22 (01:06:32):

Is there anything you share about how you became aware of it? I just don’t, did you go back and look at some-

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:06:39):

So I’m not going to get into intelligence community information from here. That’s not something that we do certainly from the briefing room. What I can say is that we learned of this the three prior, during the past administration. And so we are willing to share that information. But again, just not going to get into intelligence from here.

Speaker 22 (01:06:59):

Last question on this. Since the administration was aware of the balloon program, did any US officials have conversations with the Chinese about balloons over US airspace during this administration?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:07:12):

We’re not going to get into specifics of private diplomatic conversations we have with China. We’re just not going to do that from here. We’ve been very clear that what China did was indeed a violation of international law. You’ve heard directly from Secretary Blinken making that very clear and China knows that we will vigorously defend our homeland and sovereignty. That is something that we’ve also made very clear. But we’re just not going to get into diplomatic conversations from here.

Speaker 23 (01:07:38):

Karine, can we follow up on that?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:07:39):

Oh, what happened?

Speaker 23 (01:07:42):

If you got time for one or two more?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:07:43):

Okay. Okay. One or two more. All right, I’m going to go to the back. Go ahead.

Speaker 24 (01:07:45):

Can I ask just about COVID? It took up a lot of real estate in last year’s State of the Union speech, what’s going to be different this year, and is the President going to address the yawning gap between vaccinations in the developed world and in the less developed world?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:07:58):

As you know, I’m not going to get ahead of the President’s speech tomorrow. As it relates to COVID, the President has talked about many times of how we’ve been able to get the economy going, and a lot of that was because of how the President handled COVID, of how he was able to push forward an American rescue plan that was able to put forward a comprehensive plan to get shots in arms.

And because of the work that this President has done, we are in a different place. COVID is not taking over our lives. We’re still fighting COVID. But again, we’re in a different place. I’m just not going to get into what the President’s going to talk about or say on any particular issue. We’ve kind of given a little bit of the themes a little bit here. You heard from Brian, just not going to get ahead of the President from here. I’m going to… Go ahead.

Speaker 25 (01:08:46):

Thank you. Sorry. Has the president looked to any past to State of the Union addresses for inspiration as he crafts this one? He’s worked with some great orators over the years.

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:09:00):

So, not going to go into into his process. What I can say is the President was a senator for 36 years. He was Vice President for eight years. He has been President for two. He knows how this process is. He knows how it works. He knows how important tomorrow is going to be. And he is, when you hear the speech, is going to sound like a Joe Biden State of the Union speech. So I can definitely assure you on that. Just not going to get beyond that. Go ahead, the person behind you.

Speaker 26 (01:09:26):

Thank you. So, Karine, we know of these few balloons that had flown in the past, the one of course from last week. You say the relationship is up to China going forward. Should the expectation be for the American public that this is it with balloons then? Or is it that this could potentially happen again in the future? And if that’s the case, that the standard procedure going forward is wait for it to get over water and then it’ll be shot.

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:09:48):

I’m not going to get into any specifics of what might happen next or hypotheticals from here. I’m just not going to do that. What I can say is, as you’ve heard me say, there was a China surveillance program, balloon program that has been going on for some time, that Congress certainly was briefed on back in last August, but just not going to get into hypotheticals from here.

Speaker 26 (01:10:12):

And then one more. There’s bipartisan calls up on Capitol Hill as it relates to TikTok and the national security implications of it. You have Congressman Ken Buck saying, “If you see this CCP surveillance balloon scares you, wait until you hear about TikTok.” Senator Michael Bennett had recently called on the CEOs of Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their devices, from their Google Play stores and Apple Play store.

Does the administration believe that TikTok is a national security threat and does it believe that those apps should be removed from phones?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:10:47):

So, look, the President, the Biden administration more broadly has never allowed TikTok on White House devices. Other federal agencies have similar restriction. We have been clear about our concerns on apps like TikTok. And so, look, we are focused on the challenges of certain countries, including China, seeking to leverage digital technologies and Americans data in ways that present unacceptable national security risk.

I’m just not going to get ahead of it. As we know, there’s a review currently happening, but we take this very seriously. And as I said, the Biden administration has never allowed TikTok on White House devices.

Speaker 26 (01:11:31):

Is it a national security risk?

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:11:31):

Again, I’m just not going to… There’s a review happening by CFIUS. I’m just not going to get ahead of that.

Speaker 26 (01:11:35):

Thanks, Karine.

Karine Jean-Pierre (01:11:36):

Okay. All right. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Speaker 27 (01:11:38):

Is there any reason why you continue to discriminate against me?

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