Aboard Air Force One, En Route Cape Canaveral, Florida–(ENEWSPF)–April 15, 2010 – 12:46 P.M. EDT
MR. BURTON: All right, so, a couple things here before start.
Q Sorry, Bill, can you try to speak louder?
MR. BURTON: You bet. Tomorrow the President will host a meeting of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board — also known as PERAB — at the White House to discuss a range of economic issues, including job creation and the President’s proposal to double the number of exports over the next five years. He will discuss with PERAB members the urgent need to pass strong financial reform legislation and the momentum behind reform efforts currently in the Senate. He will specifically address the steps we must take to strengthen oversight of derivatives, the same financial products that led to the near collapse of AIG, warning that the problems of the future will rest on the steps we take to address derivatives now.
Q Who’s on that board, Bill, do you know?
MR. BURTON: Well, I can get you a full list of it. It includes —
Q So who’s going to be at the White House?
MR. BURTON: Wolf will be there, Robert Wolf. I mean, it’s — I’ll get you a full list. Thanks for digging me on a question I didn’t know. (Laughter.)
So, some notes on what we’ve got going today. On the plane is Senator Bill Nelson, Representative Kosmas, Buzz Aldrin, John Holdren, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. Mona is along for the ride.
MR. BURTON: Mona Sutphen.
Q Who’s the person you said before Bolden?
MR. BURTON: Before Bolden? Buzz Aldrin. Astronaut. American hero.
Before the speech, the President will tour a commercial rocket facility, where we’ll see a Falcon 9 rocket, which is scheduled to lift off next month. Then we’ll go on to the event. It will be about 200 — there will be about 200 leaders in space; members of Congress; workers. And the President will outline his bold and ambitious space initiative.
Then we’ll go on to — oh, and the members who will be there include Bill Nelson and Kosmas, of course, and Representatives Bill Posey, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.* And then this evening in Miami we’ve got a private — a fundraiser in a private home, and then — be about 100 people — and then another at 6:30 p.m. at the arts center, which will be about 800 people.
Q Are those both DNC?
MR. BURTON: Yes. Actually, I’m not 100 percent sure. I’m almost certain, but let me double-check that for you.
Q What was the question?
MR. BURTON: If it was DNC. Just want to make sure it’s not joint or something like that — mislead you.
Q Both DNC.
Q Schedule said DNC.
Q Could you talk about the evolution of the bold space plan?
MR. BURTON: Well, this is something that was done in consultation with leaders in space, members of Congress; obviously the President’s advisors on science. And the President feels that he’s come to a program that will create more innovation for our country, that will create more jobs than the trajectory we’re currently on, and there will be more [astronauts in space].
Q Was there a feeling when the budget came out that you needed to add a little more specifics —
MR. BURTON: Well, obviously there’s a process that we go through, and in consultations with members of Congress what we were able to do is find ways that we could improve upon the plan, take a look at some of the programs that worked and that didn’t work, like with the Constellation program, use the things that were working, and do away with the things that weren’t.
So the President thinks that his plan is the right one.
Q Are there going to be any specifics, any additional specifics announced today beyond what you’ve already put out?
MR. BURTON: I wouldn’t anticipate a lot more in the way of specifics. You’ll get some fact sheets that help to flesh out some of the details, but that will be about it.
Q Can I just go back to the PERAB stuff real quick? Will the President be making public remarks? And forgive me if I missed that.
MR. BURTON: You didn’t miss that. We’ll probably — the coverage plans are still being determined. They may have determined them since we took off, but —
Q It’s not like we’re expecting the President to talk about derivatives in front of the cameras?
MR. BURTON: I think that you can expect that the President is going to make remarks in some fashion or another, be it at a pool spray or something else. When we land I’ll check on what the latest is and make sure you know.
Q Given some of the concerns about NASA cuts and the proposals, does the President feel like he needs to make any sort of — do any convincing today? And what sort of — what does he anticipate from the crowd?
MR. BURTON: Well, the President’s view is that every time we put out a new policy, especially when we’re changing course to some extent, it requires a lot of explanation. So you can bet that the President is going to be — explain it in detail why we made the — why he made the decisions that he made and why we didn’t take other directions.
The space program that was in place when he came into office had made some determinations about the direction of our nation’s space policies that the President thought could be refined and moved in a different direction. So, yes, he’ll be explaining that.
And then also I think that folks in Florida and people who are a part of this space program all over the country obviously have a lot at stake here. And, you know, take for example the decision that was made six years ago to end the shuttle program. As a result of that, a lot of people are going to lose their jobs.
What the President will talk about today is the $40 million fund that he has to help train those workers and help them transition into other ways of work. Obviously that’s not a lot of solace for someone who’s losing their job, but he’s serious about making sure that these Americans get back to work.
I would also point you to a story in the Orlando Sentinel today that gives a sense of what kind of reaction we might get, and I think that, if you look at the headline, that this program gives some hope to the people of Florida about the direction of space. I think that that answers your question about the reception.
Q Will the audience contain any of those workers who are concerned about their jobs, may be losing jobs?
MR. BURTON: I don’t know specifically what workers will be there, but you probably will have a chance to talk to some of them.
Q I’m just curious who he — how he selected who he’s addressing. And if part of this is to try to explain what he’s doing, will the audience itself include some of the people that have most at stake?
MR. BURTON: Yes, there certainly will be workers from the Kennedy Space Center who will be there. I don’t know if specifically there are going to be workers who are going to be losing their jobs or transitioning to something else, but you’ll be able to see them when we get there.
Q Does Florida politics come into play here?
MR. BURTON: I think what — the President’s view is that good policy is good politics. So what he did was he talked to experts, he talked to the people that he trusts on these issues, and he came up with what he thought was the best plan. And he’s convinced that the people of Florida and the folks who are really interested in our space program are going to see the truth, which is that it is the best direction for the space program.
Q Sally Ride, in her essay that you all distributed, talks about how the Constellation never really captured the public’s imagination. Is he going to have something for the public’s imagination today?
MR. BURTON: I’ll let you be the judge of that, but I’ve taken a look at the remarks and I certainly think so.
Q Can you comment on the thing in Iceland, the volcano, with all the flight cancellations, whether the President will still travel to Poland?
MR. BURTON: Sure. It’s something that we’re keeping an eye on. Right now our schedule is still on. We have every intention of making it to Poland. I talked to some of the folks in the Air Force before I came back here and they feel confident that we’ll be able to make that trip. But it’s something we’re watching and obviously cognizant of.
Q And then China’s decision to I guess divest some U.S. Treasury bonds — what’s your reaction to that?
MR. BURTON: I’m not going to get into a matter like that here, but I would refer you to the Department of Treasury where you can probably get some more information about what their view of that is.
Anybody else? All right. Thanks, guys.
Q Thank you, Bill.
12:55 P.M. EDT
*Senator Nelson, Representative Kosmas, and Sheila Jackson Lee will be at Kennedy Space Center. Representatives Kosmas and Debbie Wasserman Schultz will be in Miami.