Politics

The Briefing: Live Blogging!

  • (Fox Photo)

    (Fox Photo)

  • President Obama meets in the Situation Room to discuss relief efforts for Haiti. (White House Photo/Pete Souza)

    President Obama meets in the Situation Room to discuss relief efforts for Haiti. (White House Photo/Pete Souza)

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs briefs reporters:

* The president has invited a group of mayors to the White House on Thursday January 21st.

* The President was clear: It's important we do everything in our human power to help Americans in Haiti, and to help the Haitian people. 

* The Haitian government is in control. They have asked for assistance.

* On rumors of a health care deal, Gibbs says that the President and Democratic members of Congress and the Senate made progress yesterday bridging gaps on health care.   Gibbs says they're not ready yet to talk about what may be pending.

* On the bank fee the President announced today, Gibbs says the taxpayers deserve to be "made whole" adding that it's hard for the White House to hear criticism coming from the banks considering the taxpayers have helped in the bailouts. "They think the good times are back," said Gibbs.

* With regard to criticism that the banks will simply pass along the fee to their customers, Gibbs said that would put them at a "competitive disadvantage"

* On rumors of a compromise on the controversial tax on so-called "Cadillac Plans" Gibbs wouldn't confirm or deny anything. He simply said, "The President met a few days ago with representatives from labor unions all over the country who are concerned about the structure of the tax. The President has a strong desire to see a bending in the cost curve for health care, while not impacting working men and women." Gibbs added that they're still trying to find a compromise.

* On the response to Haiti: Gibbs says the President is pleased with the response, but day and night we have to do all we can to get teams and personnel as quickly as possible to Haiti. Gibbs acknowledged logistical hurdles that are keeping resources from getting on the scene faster.

* MORE ON BANK FEE: Gibbs on criticism from lawmakers: if Senators of either party want to make the decision that this is not a good idea, they can certainly do that.

* On more troops for Haiti: Gibbs said that the international community will need to contribute, considering the damage done to the UN in Haiti.  

* Gibbs: (on rebuilding Haiti) the goal is to create something that is stronger than it was in the few moments before the devastating earthquake.

* We support Google's action in a decision to no longer censure searches that happen using the Google platform.

We have strong beliefs about the universal rights of men and women throughout the globe. Those aren't carved out for certain countries.

* Gibbs was asked about Pat Robertson's comment that the people of Haiti were struck by an earthquake because they made a pact with the devil. "It never ceases to amaze [me] that in times of human suffering someone says something that could be so utterly stupid."

* On President Obama's first year in office and the anniversary of his inauguration on 1/20: I don't think many people will recognize the day as anything other than another day in which - that they believe their country is on the road back to economic recovery, to a place where we have a better relationship with the rest of the world and are taking steps to deal with the long term problems of our country that had never been dealt with.