Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, August 11, 2021 | Beaufort County Now | Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, August 11, 2021

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Press Release:

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room  •  Washington D.C.  •  August 11  •  12:25 P.M. EDT

    MS. PSAKI: Hi, everyone. Okay, a couple of items for you at the top.

    The President has said that the challenges of our time — the challenge of our time is to demonstrate that democracies can deliver by improving the lives of their own people and by addressing the greatest problems facing the wider world.

    In keeping with this commitment, this morning we announced that, in December, the President will bring together leaders from a diverse group of the world's democracies at a virtual Summit for Democracy to be followed in a — in roughly a year's time by a second, in-person summit.

    The virtual summit, to take place on December 9th and 10th, will galvanize commitments and initiatives across three principal themes: defending against authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights. Following a year of consultation, coordination, and action, President Biden will then invite world leaders to gather once more to showcase progress made on their commitments.

    I also wanted to note that, yesterday, Vice President Harris announced that 2.5 million Americans have signed up for health insurance during the Special Enrollment Period the Biden-Harris administration opened just weeks after taking office. That is 2.5 million more people who can now rest easy knowing they're covered, and who join the over 30 million people who have health coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

    Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, health insurance is now more affordable than ever. Families are saving an average of $40 per person, per month; that's nearly $2,000 per year for a typical family of four.

    And President Biden — and the President's Build Back Better agenda that passed the Senate would extend these savings, helping lower healthcare costs for millions of Americans.

    There are just five days left until the Special Enrollment Period closes on August 15th, and now is the time for anybody that doesn't have health insurance to go to and find a plan that works for them.


    Q:  Thank you, Jen. The President's meeting earlier with CEOs on vaccinations — can you tell us: Were there any decisions reached in there in terms of what else the administration can do to encourage people to become vaccinated?

    And this meeting with, you know, companies who are requiring their staffs to be vaccinated — is that a sign that the White House is kind of shifting away from encouragement and, you know, supporting the mandates that corporate America is doing? Is that — in other words, is that a backdoor way of the White House trying to do the federal mandate that you all have said you can't do?

    MS. PSAKI: It's a front-door way of lifting up private sector companies who are taking steps — through carrots and sticks, through incentives, and through mandates, in some cases — to get more people vaccinated and to make sure they're protecting their workforce.

    I would note that this was intentionally a diverse group of industries. So, the airline industry, university systems, healthcare industry, small businesses. We wanted to share the work they are doing and support these efforts. And today is an example of us lifting up the private sector taking steps that makes sense — that show that vaccines are safe, effective, and are the best ways to — for people to reenter the workforce — workplaces safely and also reboot our economy. So that was the objective.

    I wouldn't say it was meant to be a decision meeting as much as a discussion about best practices, what is working for these industries. And hopefully, they can be the models for others.

    Q:  And then just a couple on the Senate. Is there a deadline for when the President would want to see the budget reconciliation bill passed?

    MS. PSAKI: As soon as he can sign it into law. He looks forward to signing it into law. But we know, as was announced yesterday, the House is going to be coming back next week. They're eager to get to work. We'll be deeply engaged in conversations when they return as well.

    Q:  And then just one more quick one. With reluctance from Senators Sinema and Manchin on the $3.5 trillion, can the President envision accepting a smaller dollar figure than $3.5 trillion? Or is —

    MS. PSAKI: Look, I'm naturally not going to negotiate from here, not that any of you are expecting me to do that. I will say that what is vital to the President is that — and what Leader Schumer also reiterated in his press conference this morning, is that this reconciliation package includes the Build Back Better agenda, key investments in childcare, in — additional investments in climate change, addressing the climate crisis, additional investments to lower costs for people across the country.

    He has certainly expressed a comfort with the $3.5 trillion size, as you — as you all know, and obviously there's a lot of work ahead as we work to gather support for the — this package.

    Go ahead.

    Q:  Does the White House know who in Florida made the request for hundreds of more ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile?


    MS. PSAKI: Well, I would say, Kaitlan, I saw the remarks and comments by the governor and representatives of the governor.

    I would note that, as a policy, we don't send ventilators to states without their interest in receiving the ventilators. I think the most important question here is: Why would you oppose receiving ventilators when you clearly need those in your state, given the percentage of hospitalizations that are occurring in Florida?

    Q:  Do you think it's feasible the governor was unaware that those ventilators were sent to his state earlier this week?

    MS. PSAKI: I think that's really a question for the governor and his team.

    Q:  And one more question: What is the President's reaction to the jump in consumer prices? And what is his level of concern today now seeing those numbers with inflation?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, Kaitlan, if you actually look at the numbers and the trends over the last several months, it shows that core inflation, one, was not only below expectations, but it decelerated from last month and even from the month prior. So, over the last couple of months, we actually saw it trended downward over the last three months, and that is an encouraging sign.

    We also continue to believe that, as the economy turns back on and as people are — as businesses are starting to move, as the supply — as the demands start to change in the economy, that there will be transitory impacts in — as it relates to inflation. Those are projections that have been made, of course, not just by the Federal Reserve, but by CBO, Goldman Sachs, UBS, Moody's, and others. They've also all predicted that the — that inflation will come down next year, and that those are the projections that we have abide by.

    Go ahead, Jeff.

    Q:  Jen, a question about OPEC. The White House is pressing OPEC to produce more oil. Have you gotten a response from Saudi Arabia about that request?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, first I would say this is just an outreach that's just happening over the last couple of days, but it's also ongoing and something that isn't new, as of today or even as of yesterday. We've had ongoing engagements.

    I know we talked about this just a couple of weeks ago when we were especially concerned or where there — when there OPE- — discussions with OPEC-member countries happening, even though we're not a member of OPEC.

    So the steps that were announced this morning, which include — as you referenced, Jeff — National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan putting out a statement about how White House officials are continuing their engagement with relevant OPEC members on the importance of competitive markets and setting prices and doing more to support recovery, it also includes a letter that was sent from our NEC Director, Brian Deese, to the FTC to consider — encourage them to consider using all of its available tools to monitor the U.S. gasoline markets.

    So this is not meant to be for immediate response, necessarily. It's meant to be a long-term engagement — consistent, long-term engagement, as we work to address not just anti-competitive behavior in the United States, but in the global marketplace as well. And also taking steps that we feel are prudent to keep gas prices down for the American public.

    Q:  I have a broader question on that theme. How do you square — how does this White House square a push for OPEC — or Saudi Arabia to increase production of oil, which is a fossil fuel, with your climate change agenda, which is basically to get away from fossil fuels?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, first I'd say, Jeff, that experts have consistently debunked the notion that efforts we're undertaking to transition to net zero by 2050 and a clean power sector by 2035 are related to domestic production at home. I would just note. I know that wasn't exactly your question, but I wanted to get that in there.

    Our view is, one, that there are steps OPEC can take. What we're — what we're raising here, as we've raised in the past: production and the need to increase production, as you've said, to make sure we have that available to help address the price of gas.

    We also are talking though, most importantly, about — about competition and about ensuring that pricing on the global market is something that is aligned with what is fair and what is competitive as well.

    So, we're talking about a number of steps, not just one. But I'd also note that we know that they have supply that's available, that can be accessed, and that's what we're really referring to here.

    [ ... ]

    Read the full transcript HERE.

You can visit a collection of all White House posts by clicking HERE.

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