Succeeding in Finance, Jobs Act, Payroll Tax Cut and Extended Unemployment Insurance (2012)
CARNEY: Good afternoon.
Welcome to theWhite House for your daily briefing on June 4, 2012.
I have no announcements to make atthe top, so assisted ably by my Principal Deputy — Q Did Josh lose all his friends? (Laughter.
CARNEY: That's all you need.
)And with that, I'll go to your questions.
Although, Ben, you just had a question.
Theanswer is, no.
) Q Let me ask you about the economy.
And thenI had a question about Bill Clinton.
Pivoting off the jobs report on Friday, I was wonderinghow the President continues to argue and make the argument to voters that the economy is heading in the right directionwhen job numbers are not headed in the right direction.
CARNEY: Well, I appreciate the question,and I would say that while Friday's jobs numbers were clearly below expectations and far fromgood enough, they did represent the 27th straight month of private sector job creation sincethe President's policies began to take effect.
He has argued and will continue to argue thatwe need to do more, and we can do more right now — not wait until November or next January,but right now — to further grow the economy and have it create more jobs.
The President made clear last fall that therecovery was not robust enough when he introduced his American Jobs Act.
And outside economists– not White House or administration economists — outside economists judged that plan, ifimplemented, to be one that would create over a million jobs.
With their backs against thewall, Republicans in Congress ended up supporting some of the elements of the American JobsAct, but others they refused to support because they made the choice that it was more importantto protect subsidies for oil and gas companies, or tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans.
That is a choice the President disagreed with.
But those items remain on the table and theyremain the very things that would boost job creation right now if Congress were willingto take them up.
That is also true of the items on the President's"To-Do" list for Congress, which is compiled entirely of measures that should have bipartisansupport, that have traditionally in the past had bipartisan support, and which, if implemented,would all contribute to further economic growth and job creation.
And this President willcontinue to do everything he can, both using his administrative authority, his executiveauthority, and through working with Congress, to make sure that we continue to move thiseconomy forward.
I cannot help but make the point that thealternative here is to go back to the policies that created the 8 million lost jobs.
AndI don't think the American people believe that that's the right way to go, if you lookat that choice.
Is it continuing in the direction that has led to 4.
3 million jobs created aswe recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression, or is it going backto the policies that precipitated, caused the worst recession since the Great Depression?The President clearly thinks that choice is clear.
Q Are the President's proposals — you mentionedthe leftover elements of the Jobs Act and the "To-Do" list — in the White House's viewbold enough to create the kind of jobs the country needs? Or is there anything else thatthis White House would seek to do this year if you could get it through Congress? MR.
CARNEY: I would simply say that the elementsof the American Jobs Act and the "To-Do" List combined would help the economy grow and createsignificant numbers of jobs.
There's no question about that.
And had Congress done the rightthing and passed the American Jobs Act in its entirety last fall, I think we would bein a different situation with a different employment picture today than the one we’rein.
But you can be sure that this President isconstantly tasking his economic advisers and talking to folks about other policy ideasand other proposals to continue this economy — to continue having this economy grow andcreate jobs.
That is work that is never done for anybody who’s been sent to Washingtonby the American people.
A number-one task that you have here if you’re elected toCongress or sent to the White House is to do the things necessary to help the economygrow and to help the economy create jobs.
Q On the Clinton question — President Clintonand President Obama have had some differences on policy and tactics lately, and a lot wasmade of the comments President Clinton made in an interview about Governor Romney, includingthat Romney had a sterling business career and that that helps at least get him acrossthe threshold to be President.
Are these two former Presidents seeing life the same wayright now? MR.
CARNEY: Well, I think — two things.
Iwould refer you to some of the other things President Clinton has said since then, andsimply make the point that, as President Obama has made and others, that the issue isn’twhether someone succeeded in the private equity world where the purpose is maximizing profitsfor your investors and your shareholders.
It’s whether or not that vision is the rightvision for creating jobs.
Maximizing profits for your shareholders andinvestors is — as a primary goal is fine and appropriate in that world.
But it hasnothing, as a primary goal, to do with job creation, because, as you know, the way thisworld works, if you — you can succeed in a situation where the result is many, manylayoffs; you can still make a lot of money.
Or perhaps the result is some jobs are created.
The issue is not jobs; it’s profits.
And that’s fine if your goal is to succeed inthat financial world.
But that’s not a President’s responsibility.
The President’s responsibility is to maximize the economy for all Americans, to maximizeeconomic growth so that more jobs are available for hardworking, middle-class folks aroundthe country.
So I think looking at that, President Clintonhas completely supported President Obama’s approach and has thoroughly endorsed Obama– President Obama as someone who has the right vision economically for moving thiscountry forward.
I think it’s important to note that PresidentClinton, when he left office after eight years in which we saw substantial job creation underhis stewardship, he handed an economy and a budget that included surpluses for as faras the eye could see, hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars of surpluses.
Aftereight years pursuing policies that every Republican leader in Congress supported and every Republicanwho ran for President has endorsed, President Obama came into office, was handed a $1.
4trillion deficit — or over $1 trillion deficit, the largest at that time in history, and aneconomic situation that was the worst any of us had ever seen.
So I think the choiceis clear.
Q Does President Obama agree with PresidentClinton that Governor Romney has had a sterling business career? MR.
CARNEY: I think President Obama has spokento this issue, and I’m sure the campaign would be happy to help you more on the specificsof the debate at the purely political and campaign level.
What the choice is about in the fall, as wellas right now, is which is the right economic prescription for this country.
Is it one thatincludes investments in the near term in education and innovation, investments in clean energy,for example, as well as taking the necessary steps to bring our deficits under controland our debt under control for the long term through a balanced approach? Or is it onethat doubles down on the policies of the previous eight years that takes those policies andputs them on steroids and says let’s have a multi-trillion-dollar tax cut that benefitsprimarily the wealthiest Americans, tell no one how you would pay for it — every economiston the outside who looks at this says it would add tremendously to the deficit — and thenlet the middle class and seniors and others fend for themselves and in many ways pay forthe very tax cuts that the wealthiest would receive? I think, again, the choice as I’vedescribed it is clear.
Reuters, do you have anything? Q Jay, this jobs report comes in the contextof a lot of threats to the global economy, principally the crisis in Europe, but a slowdownin China, as well.
And I’m just wondering, given all of these threats to the economyand the severity of this, is it time to go back to the drawing board? And is the reportcorrect saying that the President plans to deliver a speech on the economy later thismonth? MR.
CARNEY: Well, two things.
I don't haveany scheduling announcements to make about speeches in the future.
The President speaksabout the economy frequently, and I’m sure you will hear him speak about it frequentlyin the coming weeks and months.
The fact of the matter is, as I pointed out in answerto Ben’s first question, there is no mystery about what we need to do or what we can doto help the economy grow and create jobs.
One of the often-overlooked facts about therecovery that we’ve had thus far since the great recession is that there has been substantialprivate sector job creation, even as the economy at the state and local level has shed jobs.
And the President thinks that’s a problem.
The President thinks substantial layoffs ofteachers around the country is bad not just for those teachers who have lost their jobsbut for the children who are in classrooms with fewer teachers.
And that’s bad forour long-term economic prospects.
It’s bad for the kids.
It’s bad for the teachers.
It’s bad for their families.
And it’s bad for our economy.
So he proposed in the American Jobs Act thatCongress should take action, that together we should take action to help return teachersto the classroom.
Republicans in Congress refuse to do that.
And we have job lossesas a result of that refusal.
They refuse to do it because they chose, unfortunately, toprotect special interest loopholes for the oil and gas industry for wealthy Americans,and that was a bad choice, as the President sees it.
So there are things we can do now to investin the economy, to help it grow, to help it create jobs, including the "To-Do" list, includingthe United Nations-passed elements of the American Jobs Act, and Congress should dothem.
And the President will sign them if Congress does them.
He will always continueto work with his economic advisers to make sure that he is doing everything possible,both with Congress and through his executive authority, to take further measures to helpthe economy and create jobs.
And again, that is the business that everyone in Washingtonshould be about — because as I’ve said before, he doesn’t expect that Congresswill suddenly change their mind just because he’s asking them to.
He expects that Congress — in this case,those who opposed some of these proposals in the past — will change their minds becausetheir constituents are demanding action now.
We need to be focused on the American economicsituation and jobs for the American people, not on jobs that will be won or lost in November.
We need to act now.
Q But for Americans reading the news and lookingat these worrisome signs in Europe and reading about the jobs report, do you think it’sgood enough to say, I’m telling Congress to pass my "To-Do" list, I unveiled thesemeasures in January, I think they’re the right thing to do, my economists think they’rethe right thing to do? Doesn’t he have to show the American people that he’s doingmore, maybe coming up with more creative approaches? MR.
CARNEY: Well, like I said, Caren, he willbe constantly working with his team and others to examine proposals for economic growth andjob creation, in addition to the ones that he’s put forward.
He has been, I think — he’sput forward a number of ideas and they have been deliberately designed to garner bipartisansupport, both in the American Jobs Act and in the congressional "To-Do" list.
But thereis not a — Q But as you pointed out, Congress isn’tpassing them — MR.
CARNEY: Well, but then you should askwhy.
Because it’s not okay to simply root for failure and hope it pays off politically.
I think, in fact, there’s a potential for a political price to be paid if you come toWashington and you do nothing in the hope that doing nothing will enhance your powerin the future.
That’s a bad approach to your responsibility as an elected representativeof the American people from your district or your state.
So, again, there’s a lot that can be doneright now, working with Congress.
The President will continue to look at ideas and proposeideas.
He will continue to do what he can administratively through executive power whereappropriate.
And he will continue to push Congress to take action.
I mean, let’s not forget when Republicansin Congress finally relented and extended the payroll tax cut and extended unemploymentinsurance, when they agreed to pass the assistance to veterans in the American Jobs Act and they’vetaken some of the other actions that they have taken, it’s been in part because they’veheard from the American people, from their constituents that they need to do this.
Andthe President has been out talking about these economic proposals around the country, puttingpressure on Congress, making clear that we have business to do right now for the Americanpeople.
That has resulted in some of this action.
And he is going to continue to dothat.
Q Why did the President quit talking so muchabout those two big elements on the infrastructure projects and paying for teachers and firstresponders to remain in their jobs in states and cities? For months, he didn’t reallytalk about them at all.
And then, the "To-Do" list came out and none of — those two thingsweren’t on it.
Why? Was it a mistake to have quit talking about that given the job– MR.
CARNEY: Well, I think broadly speaking,we always continued to talk about the undone proposals, the United Nations-passed proposalsfrom the American Jobs Act.
The President — I mean, going to Caren’s point — hascontinued to generate new economic proposals, new ideas that Congress could take up andpass — small, medium and large in size, in terms of their impact and their effect.
Andhe will continue to do that.
But I think when you look at the jobs numbersthat we got on Friday and you look at all the jobs reports from previous months, younotice this effect here, which is greater private sector job growth and slippage inpublic sector jobs, principally in education and in public safety — cops and firefighters,teachers.
And this is very significant, because the impact, as I described earlier, is notjust on the teachers who were laid off and their immediate families.
It’s on the kidswho don’t have those teachers in their classrooms; classroom sizes are bigger — we think that’sa bad thing — and in the impact that that has on our education system and our overalleconomic growth, which the President believes firmly is tied to the quality of the educationthat our kids receive.
So the compound effect here of those layoffsis profound.
And that’s why Congress should take action to put those teachers back towork.
It’s why Congress should have taken action to put construction workers on thejob, another element of the American Jobs Act.
There is no question that had Congressacted then, we would be looking at a different picture now in terms of overall job creationin the period since.
Q But why did those drop from his emphasisin the winter months? Was it because of a sense that the economy was picking up steam? MR.
CARNEY: No, because, look, he continuedto push additional and new economic proposals.
But it never became a question of whetheror not Congress should simply not act on the ones that they had not yet acted on.
Thatwas always part of what the President believed Congress should do.
And he continues to believethat.
Jake, and then, Jessica.
Q Who specifically is rooting for failure? MR.
CARNEY: I think that when you have a situationwhere action is not being taken on Capitol Hill, where it is obvious, as outside economistswill tell you, what actions Congress could take to help create jobs, that there is atleast a failure to act.
And I can’t tell you specifically whether or not that’s rootingor just passivity.
But the fact is that Americans send their members — send their elected representativesto Washington to act, not to do nothing.
And there is an opportunity — and has beennow for quite some time — an opportunity to help the economy grow faster, to help itcreate more jobs, to protect the jobs of teachers and firefighters, and policemen and women,and Congress has failed to act on those.
And Congress has failed to act thus far on elementsof the congressional "To-Do" list that would also have positive economic effect.
Q So they failed to act by not supportingwhat you support, but they have been passing legislation.
You just — MR.
CARNEY: Right, and the same outside economists– again, not our economists — but the same ones who get the golden seal of approval interms of independence will tell you that those proposals, by and large, put forward by Republicansthat include small business tax cuts with a definition of small business that givesa huge tax cut to tax fund managers — I mean, to hedge fund managers, or partners in lawfirms would not have any immediate positive impact on the economy.
It may have some impactin the future.
Some of them have neither short-term, nor medium- or long-term positive impact.
The proposals the President put forward werespecifically designed to have effect now.
Because the American people aren’t focusedon what’s going to help the economy in five years; right now they’re focused on whatcan we do now to help this economy grow and create jobs.
Q Is it fair to say that there is nothingnew that the President plans on introducing given this bad — not only a bad jobs report,but a revision downward of the two previous months — that the President is going to keeppressing forward with his "To-Do" list and things he has been talking about for months,nothing new? MR.
CARNEY: No, I don’t think that’s fairto say.
I said — what I said in answers to questions that came prior was that the Presidentwill continue to work with his team of economic advisers, as well as outside economic advisersto examine other proposals and other ideas that — as he has all along — that couldhelp the economy grow and create jobs.
And those could be proposals that require congressionalapproval, or they could be proposals that he can act on using his executive authority.
They can be proposals also that encourageprivate sector action along the lines of the things that the First Lady has done with thePresident and the Vice President and Dr.
Biden, to get the private sector to hire returningveterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So there’s a variety of things and areaswhere action can be taken.
And, obviously, the President is continuing to work with histeam on potential new ideas.
The point I’m trying to make is there’snot a lot of mystery in June of 2012, after all of the economic debates that we’ve hadthese past several years, about what the menu looks like in terms of the things we can doboth to help the economy grow in the near term, help it create jobs in the near term,take actions that address our deficit and debt in the medium and long term.
One positiveoutcome of these debates and negotiations and swapping of proposals has been that there’sa lot of work on the shelf that can be taken off the shelf and acted on if there’s awillingness to take the kind of balanced approach that the American public supports, that thePresident supports, bipartisan commissions support, when we talk about sort of broadeconomic proposals that include short-term action and medium- and long-term deficit reduction.
Q Jay, in the last few days, Democrats haveexpressed real concern about not only the economy, but what it says about the President’sprospects for reelection and with him, the House and Senate, and who will control them.
Is the President hearing from these Democrats? What is the concern? Does the President sharethe concern that somehow there has been a tipping point reached, that the economy isnow headed in the wrong direction, not just a blip but the last two months were reviseddownward, and the President will not be able to make the argument that the economy — ashe has as recently as March — that job growth is happening, it’s accelerating, and thathis prospects for reelection are weaker? Is he at all concerned about this? MR.
CARNEY: Jake, the President is focusedfar less on his job than on the jobs of the American people.
That’s what he works onevery day.
That is what drives all of the economic proposals that he has put forward.
That is what has driven him, from the time he decided to run for the Senate and run forthe presidency.
The fact of the matter is, as you know, having covered him for some time,is he takes the long view on all of these things.
He didn’t buy into the same punditry inthe earlier part of this year that said because we’d had a series of better than expectedmonths of job creation that all would be smooth sailing either for our economy or for theelection cycle.
And he takes a very determined view today about the work he needs to do asPresident, the direction this economy needs to move, and the debate that he’ll havewith his opponent in the coming months over the direction the country should go in.
These issues are far too significant and theymatter in tangible ways to far too many people across the country to be reduced to an electoralequation — is it good or bad for any candidate’s prospects in November.
That’s not why hegot into this.
And I think, going to your last question,he will argue strongly that the actions that he took as President — working with Congressas well as around Congress where he had to — took an economy that was in freefall andreversed that direction; took an economy that was shedding 750,000 jobs in the month ofJanuary 2009, on the way to an 8 million job loss hole, to one that has grown by 4.
3 millionjobs since his policies began to take effect.
And Friday’s numbers were very far fromwhere we want them to be, where the President wants them to be.
But even those numbers — again,another month of private sector job creation — compare favorably by anyone’s standardsto losing 750,000 jobs in one month, which is what faced this country when he took office.
And it wasn’t even halfway done when he took office.
So that's the way he looks atall of these issues.
Q On Friday, at multiple fundraisers, thePresident seemed to make the case that the disappointing job numbers in May were largelydue to the turmoil in Europe.
If these jobs — if the jobs picture continues as it is,does this administration plan to make the case that it’s Europe — it’s Congressand Europe that's slowing the nation’s economy? MR.
CARNEY: Well, the President made clearon Friday, and has in the past, as have others, that the situation in Europe unquestionablycreates a headwind for the global economy, and therefore for the American economy.
Andthe point he made Friday and has made in the past and I’m sure will make in the futureis that because of that headwind and others that affect global economic growth and thereforethe American economy, we need to take every step that we can here at home to insulateour economy from the negative effects of the eurozone crisis or slower growth in Chinaor whatever headwind arises, because the fact is that's what we need to do in the UnitedStates of America.
We have the biggest economy in the world.
We have the most dynamic workforce in the world.
But we cannot completely control eventsaround the globe economically; therefore, we need to pass every piece of legislationwe can that helps our economy grow and helps it create jobs.
And we need to take all theaction we can to insulate the American people from the effect of those kinds of events.
Q Why not just come out and say this nationis going through a slow-growth period while we’re deleveraging and this is the realitywe’re living in? MR.
CARNEY: I think we speak extremely franklyabout the economic realities that we face.
I think the President was very clear, as haveI been, that the jobs figures on Friday and the overall growth figures that we’ve seenof late are not nearly good enough.
That’s a fact.
That’s pretty blunt, right? We’renot remotely satisfied with 4.
3 million jobs created, and this President won’t be satisfieduntil every American who is looking for a job has a job.
Q But that could be true with or without Europe’scrisis.
CARNEY: No question.
But it is also truethat eurozone crises or earthquakes that cause tsunamis in Japan or the spike in oil prices,or other events that affect the global economy have a negative impact on the American economy.
And that’s why you have to, as a matter of leadership, take every action you can herein Washington to affect our economy positively and insulate it from those events.
Q I have a follow-up on something we askedon Friday.
In the gaggle we asked about the Stuxnet story in David Sanger’s piece andwhether this was an authorized leak.
And subsequent to that gaggle, we were referred to DavidSanger, the author of the piece — which is unusual because the White House I think shouldanswer our questions, not the author of a piece.
CARNEY: I think we made very clear that– yes? Q My question is, was this — my colleaguesand I asked, was this an authorized leak? MR.
And I think that the reasonwhy people pointed you to the author is that he has made clear that his reporting on thisinitiated elsewhere.
Look, our interest is always in protecting sensitive information,protecting classified information, because it’s important for our national security.
In fact, some people are frustrated by that approach that we take because it is so vitalto the ability of our men and women both in uniform as well as in the intelligence communityto protect the United States and to fulfilling their missions that we protect that information.
So I think the reason why people pointed you to the author is because he knows best wherehe got his information and had made that clear.
Q Tomorrow in Wisconsin — a big contest.
Why didn’t the President travel there? MR.
CARNEY: The President endorsed Tom Barrettright after he won the primary.
The President supports him, stands by him.
And I think ifyou talk to the campaign I’m sure they can give you more details about how that supportis manifested.
But you have a unique situation in Wisconsin where the event — the electionis a result of a recall petition.
But the President absolutely stands by Tom Barrettand hopes he prevails.
Q Does the President think that he would nothave been able to help? MR.
CARNEY: Look, I think that there are alot of factors in that context that make it unique — how it came about, for one thing;the money being spent, for another.
But the fact is the President has made clear all alonghis opposition to those who would take away workers’ rights, to actions that would takeaway or diminish workers’ rights, and he’s also made clear his support for Tom Barrett.
Q And then just quickly on Syria.
Assad, overthe weekend, gave a big speech and denied again that the Syrian government was involvedin the massacre.
Is Assad lying again to the world? Q And what’s the next step for the administration? MR.
CARNEY: Well, along with our internationalpartners, we are focused on preparing for a political transition in Syria.
And as evidencedby the very massacres that the Assad regime participated in and is now denying, the soonerthat political transition takes place, the better for the people of Syria, and the betterthe chances that a bloody sectarian war will be avoided.
Assad’s behavior is so heinousthat it is — Q Do you think if Assad stepped down therewouldn’t be a bloody sectarian war? MR.
CARNEY: I said that the chance that therewould be a blood sectarian war is diminished — will be diminished if Assad removes himselffrom power or is no longer in power.
And the longer that this continues, the longer thatAssad continues to essentially wage war on his own people, brutalize his own people,brutally murder, execute his own people, the greater the chance that that situation willdissolve into a sectarian civil war and will spill over its borders and cause instabilityin the region.
Now, that is why it is so essential that theworld community come together and unify to pressure Assad and isolate Assad, and helpprecipitate a situation where that political transition can take place.
We’ve been veryclear about the responsibility that the nations of the world have in this matter, and theneed for international unity when it comes to the appalling behavior of the Assad regime.
We, I think, have made clear and I think it’sobvious that history will judge Assad as a brutal dictator who murdered his own people.
History will judge those who supported Assad and continue to support Assad, accordingly.
And that’s why it’s so important for the world to unify behind the plan — a plan thatwould bring about political transition.
Q Jay, you gave an impassioned case thereabout private equity a couple moments ago, how about it doesn't really prepare you forthe presidency.
It’s all about profit, et cetera.
Why then is the President raisingmoney at a hedge fund manager’s home in New York tonight? MR.
CARNEY: Well, I wasn’t aware that anyof them are running for President, first of all, Ed.
Q No, but if it’s so evil, why is he — MR.
CARNEY: No, no, Ed.
Those are your words,okay.
I never said that and you know it, and neither did the — Q You said it’s all about profit.
CARNEY: And there’s nothing wrong withprofit, and you can be — you can succeed very well in the field by maximizing profit.
That is the goal.
The point is simply that job creation is not the goal.
Job creationis incidental.
Whether it’s massive layoffs or some job creation, either way what matteris maximization of profit.
And the point simply is that that is not the approach that bestinforms the decisions that a President would make when he or she is trying to maximizejob creation in this country, maximize economic growth.
Q So why is he spending time with job creatorstonight? MR.
CARNEY: I think you make a great pointin that folks who are supporting the President, including folks who know that supporting thePresident and the President’s success would mean that they would have to pay a littlebit more as part of a balanced approach to get our deficit and debt under control speaksextremely well of those folks.
Another approach would be to support a candidatefinancially or support a super PAC enormously with great amounts of financials, knowingthat you're essentially buying tax relief, that victory in that case would result ina windfall.
That's I think a different approach, and it’s not the one that's being takenby the supporters of the President.
Q On top of the jobs report that's been discussed,there’s this talk about what people are calling a fiscal cliff.
We’ve talked aboutit here — defense cuts that could kick in.
It could make this job situation worse ifthe defense industry takes a big hit at the end of the year, and also taxes going up,as you just mentioned about taxes, the Bush tax cuts expire.
Why is the President notcalling Republican leaders here this week, or will he, to talk about both the jobs situationand making them I guess pass the rest of that agenda? But also looking ahead to all of this,it seems like it’s being kicked after — to after the election.
Why is he not dealingwith this right now with the leaders? MR.
CARNEY: Well, as you know, the Presidenthad lunch recently right here in the White House with leaders, both Republicans and Democrats,of Congress.
Q They stated their positions on the fiscalcliff and then moved on, right? MR.
CARNEY: Well, they discussed that issue,as well as the need to take action right away to help the economy grow and create jobs.
That's certainly the President’s position.
The fact of the matter is that the sequesterthat you referred to was agreed upon by Republicans and Democrats as part of the Budget ControlAct last summer during the debt ceiling negotiations.
The whole point of the sequester was to makeit so onerous that nobody would want to allow it to become law, and therefore Congress wouldbe forced to make some tough choices, forced to accept some things that they normally wouldn’twant to accept.
On the Democratic side, I think as you sawdemonstrated during the debt ceiling negotiations, there was a willingness to address the needfor reforms in our entitlements.
Unfortunately, there was not a commensurate willingness onthe Republican side and has not yet been in any substantial way a willingness on the Republicanside to make the tough choices when it comes to revenue.
I did note that one leading Republican senator,in talking about the effect of the sequester on defense spending, said that he believesrevenue should be on the table.
And I think the point of that is not to cheer, but tosimply view that as the essential kind of decisions that Congress needs to make, membersof both parties need to make when it comes to dealing with our fiscal challenges.
If you take a balanced approach that includeshard choices by Republicans and hard choices by Democrats, you can achieve a result thatcan reduce our deficit over 10 years by over $4 trillion, that can allow for substantialbut not damaging cuts in our non-defense discretionary spending and our defense spending, cuts thatare manageable, the kinds that the President supports.
Because, as you know, this administration,the President, the Secretary of Defense do not support cuts the size of which would bebrought about by that — if that sequester were to take effect.
And that's the wholepoint, right? Congress needs to come together under the pressure of that sequester to makesome tough choices.
Q But bottom line, the President is not callingthe Republican leaders over here.
And he’s not offering up any new jobs plan — MR.
CARNEY: Well, Ed, I think — I know youremember even though it was — I did go on a bit, that at the beginning of my answerI did say the President just met with — not too long ago here in the White House withthe leaders of both parties in Congress, and I’m sure he will continue to do that inthe future.
The fact of that matter is, as I noted earlier,that the choices that are available to leaders of both parties are apparent to everyone.
That is the result of all the work that's been done on these issues over the last 18months — a lot of plans, a lot of proposals.
It’s not that complicated.
It just takespolitical will.
Q Jay, you said that the President and hisadvisers are talking through some ideas that could help promote job growth.
Are they consideringa new stimulus bill? Or can you give us some more specifics about what they might be considering? MR.
CARNEY: Kristen, I appreciate the question.
I would simply say that there are a number of things that Congress could do right nowthat would put teachers back to work, put construction workers on the job, put policeand firefighters back to work, efforts that would help homeowners refinance their homes,that would help veterans get jobs, that would protect 37,000 with the extension of the productiontax credit.
These are items from the "To-Do" list.
There are at least 10 different thingsthat the Congress could do that are already on the table that represent bipartisan — traditionallybipartisan legislation that would help the economy grow and create jobs.
The President will, as I said earlier, continueto discuss with his economic team different options that can be pursued, different possibilitiesthat perhaps Congress could take up to help the economy grow and create jobs in additionto the ones that he’s already proposed.
And he will obviously look for every opportunityto act administratively with his executive authority to further economic growth and jobcreation.
Q As you know, one of the ideas that Republicanssupport is moving forward with the Keystone pipeline.
Will the President revisit thisidea given the anemic jobs report on Friday? MR.
CARNEY: Well, as you know, and I’lltake a little time here to revisit the history, the company in question has submitted a newproposal not that long ago for a new pipeline.
Now, the reason that they submitted a newproposal is that the previous proposal was rejected because of broad bipartisan oppositionto it, including opposition from the Republican governor in the state that would be affected.
The process need not — must not be politicized.
There shouldn’t be, as there were in the past several months, purely ideological votesthat have nothing to do with the legislation at hand designed to force the President orthe administration to approve a pipeline for which there was not even a proposal.
Thatwas the case.
Now that the proposal has been submitted, it will go through all the appropriate– the entire, appropriate process that has been in place for successive administrationsof both parties for years and years and years.
And a decision will be made.
In the meantime, this administration has takenaction — as it has in numerous areas — on domestic production and specifically withthe domestic portion of the Keystone pipeline.
This process is — the State Department processis in place because the proposed pipeline crosses an international border with Canada,and that is why the State Department reviews it.
The portion that begins at Cushing andgoes to the Gulf, as you know — and maybe you were on the trip — the President hasnot only — the administration not only has approved the various permits that needed tobe approved at the federal level, but the President has urged that that process be expedited.
Q So once it goes through the process, giventhis jobs report, would the President be more likely to view it favorably? MR.
CARNEY: I would make two points.
One,the process has to move forward and a recommendation has to emerge from that process.
You can’tput your thumb on the scale and do what Republicans seem to want to do, which is bypass the processand say you would approve anything, no matter what emerges, even if experts say it shouldn’tbe approved.
The President is interested in a thoroughprocess that makes a judgment based on the merits.
He also has pursued very aggressivelyan all-of-the-above approach to our energy needs that includes increasing domestic oilproduction, that includes increasing domestic natural gas production as well as clean energytechnologies.
And that has resulted, as you know, in a situation where we have greateroil production at home than we’ve had in a number of years, and less reliance on foreign– imports of foreign oil than we have had in a long time.
So another point to make is that Congresscould take action today on one of the President’s proposals from the American Jobs Act and putvastly more people back to work today than would be employed by that portion of the Keystonepipeline to which you’re referring, the proposal for which was only recently submittedto the State Department.
Q Jay, one more.
I wonder if we could getyour reaction to the Mubarak trial.
Human Rights Watch said that the acquittals of thetop ministry officials, despite the fact Mubarak was sentenced to life, gave a green lightto future police abuse.
Does the President think that the outcome of this trial is asuccess? And how concerned are you that this could be a green light to future police abuses? MR.
CARNEY: Specifically with regards to thetrial, I would say simply that this was a decision made by the Egyptian judiciary, accordingto the Egyptian legal process.
And I would refer you the government of Egypt for moreinformation about it.
We obviously continue to support the application of due processthrough the Egyptian legal system, but this was a decision made by that system.
I'll move around a little.
Alexis, yes, andthen Laura.
Q There is a report out that Kofi Annan willbe in Washington on Friday to meet with Secretary Clinton.
Can you comment on whether the Presidenthopes to see Annan on Friday or thereabouts? And is this a signal that the towel is beingthrown in on Annan? MR.
CARNEY: Well, I certainly would let Mr.
Annan speak for himself in terms of his proposals.
Obviously, we support the Annan plan and wehave, even though we’ve remained extremely skeptical — I think with good reason — aboutAssad’s willingness to comply with it.
The fact of the matter is, going back to whatI said earlier, the international community needs to come together and unify around theidea that a political transition must happen sooner rather than later in Syria so thatwe avert the kind of sectarian civil war that that situation could dissolve into.
I don’t have a scheduling update for thePresident, but if I have one I’ll be sure to let you know.
Q And just one quick follow-up on the economy.
Last week, the President — some commentators were saying that the American people are veryfuzzy on the details of what President Obama would do in terms of his economic agenda,not this year in an election year, but in the second term.
Does the President believethat the American people are fuzzy or don’t understand the specifics of what he woulddo, that the choice to them is murkier than he thinks it is? MR.
CARNEY: Well, I’m not sure who you’reciting, but the President has made clear and will continue to make clear the steps thathe took to reverse a situation where we were in cataclysmic economic decline, where wewere suffering massive job losses on the order of 750,000 jobs per month, to a point whereonce his policies were implemented we began to see the economy grow and to see it createjobs — and we are only partway down that road.
And we need to continue to take necessaryactions to see that the economy grows, to invest in the middle class, to provide thesecurity that the middle class needs so that it can be the foundation of the American economicengine of the 21st century just as it was in the 20th.
And part of what you will hear and the Americanpeople will hear in this debate that awaits us is his elucidation of his vision for movingthe country forward economically.
I’m not going to preview any or every speech thathe’ll give in the coming weeks or months and the proposals that he’ll put forward.
But you can be sure that there will be a very clear choice, and I think that the outlinesof the different directions that are being proposed will be extremely clear to the Americanpeople.
I think, again, if you look at proposals thathave led to the creation of 4.
3 million jobs over 27 months, that have brought us partwayback from the worst recession since the Great Depression, versus proposals that double downon the policies that delivered to the country the worst recession since the Great Depression,that delivered to the country a situation where in the fall, or the last quarter of2008, the economy was shrinking at almost 9 percent — a kind of economic catastrophewe haven’t seen since the 1930s — versus the President’s ideas, that choice willbe clear.
Q On Syria, just following up on that, wehad a rebel spokesman quoted I think by Reuters, saying that they are ending their commitmentto the Annan plan.
We have the failure of the EU-Putin summit to come up with any solution.
So how serious is this getting on the way to the President’s meeting with Putin inMexico at the G20? And when you said "a plan" at the end of that explanation before whenyou were talking about it, what other plan would bring about — I think Secretary Clintonsaid that, his departure does not have to be a precondition to a resolution, but itshould be an outcome — and what other plan can — MR.
CARNEY: Well, I didn't mean to hint thatthere’s an alternative plan, just a plan that brings about that political transitionsooner rather than later is one that is desired by, broadly speaking, the international community.
I think Secretary Clinton addressed the issue of Russia and the need for Russia to playa constructive role in this process very clearly, and I can echo that here, that obviously wehave disagreed with Russia in the past on Syria, in the recent past, and we are in directconsultations with the Russians about why their participation in a process that leadsto that political transition in Syria is so important.
I made the point earlier about how historywill view Assad and how history will view those who helped sustain him at a time whenthat sustenance allowed for him to carry out brutal attacks against Syrian civilians.
Sowe are working with not just the Russians, but a variety of nations, on this issue andwill continue to do so.
In terms of the — I saw that story.
I don’t have anything specificallyfor you on that about the rebel commander, but broadly speaking, that’s where we areon Syria.
Roger, and then — oh, Laura, I owe you.
Laura,did you already ask? Okay, Laura and then Margaret.
Q I think all of my questions have been somemorable.
) My question is — MR.
CARNEY: Well, I remember you sneezed.
I just couldn’t remember if there was a question before or after.
) Q So you’ve laid out your argument thatthe President has put forward jobs ideas, the Republicans in Congress haven’t beenwilling to act on them.
And that’s basically the situation we’ve been in for many, manymonths now.
Even if the American people sort of buy that, that that’s what’s goingon here, what do you say to those who would say, I don’t want four more years of this.
You know, if I reelect Barack Obama and Republicans remain in control of at least one house ofCongress, which is likely, then we’re just going to have more and more of this stalemate,and how is that going to help anybody get a job? So could you sort of address that? MR.
CARNEY: Well, I think two points aboutthat.
One is we have elections for a reason and they, I think, provide direction to Washingtonfrom the American people.
If the President is reelected, he will pursue the policiesthat he will have talked about extensively with the American people during the campaign.
And I think that message will be delivered to members of Congress of both parties.
Oureconomic challenges are too significant not to act on.
And despite the record of intransigencethat you cited, the fact is there have been occasions even with this Congress where, withtheir backs against the wall, leaders in the Republican Party in Congress have come togetherand worked with the President on important economic issues.
So some of that has occurred — not nearlyenough of it has occurred — more of it should occur now.
It shouldn’t wait for the electionbecause members of the House were sent here for a two-year term, not a 15-month term ora 16-month term.
They were sent here to do their job for two years, and that includestaking action on the economy to help it grow.
That this President wants to work with Congress,has made clear in the proposals he’s put forward that by their very design they areand should be enticing to those who are willing to work in a bipartisan way to help the economygrow.
So I think that’s the message he’ll carry.
And I think most Americans see that when they are presented the choice of the ideas thePresident has put forward versus some of the options that have been forward by Republicans.
And they want to see the kind of bipartisan compromise that has been very much a partof the proposals the President has put forward.
Q So you anticipate that, in the wake of anObama victory, Republicans would come around.
Do you think that the President needs to doanything differently in a second term in terms of how he would approach trying to get thesethings done, or is it all on the other side? MR.
CARNEY: Before I start getting into greatdetail about what the President is going to do the day after the election, I think I wantto focus on — and he wants to focus on what he can and is doing — can do and is doingright now for the American economy.
Because there’s an option here.
There’s an opportunityhere for Congress to actually help the economic picture right now, rather than simply waitand see until January to see who’s won and who's lost, and whether or not they can pushdifferent proposals.
There are things that have traditionally garnered bipartisan supportthat are on the table and can be voted on, and the President looks forward to signingthem into law.
Q Thanks, Jay.
Oh, Roger, I owe you,and then Mark.
Q Yes, thank you.
The President dispatchedLael Brainard to Europe last week.
She went to France and Spain, Greece and Germany.
Didshe come back with any fresh insight or fresh recommendations for the President as to howthe U.
might proceed? MR.
CARNEY: Well, the President is regularlybriefed on the situation in the eurozone, and I'm sure — and I know he has been briefedon this, but I don’t have anything specific for you.
I'd refer you to Treasury for that,for specifics on her trip and any readouts of her meetings there.
Q Is there any sense on the part of the Presidentthat perhaps Europe has sort of missed its best chance to stem this debt crisis? MR.
CARNEY: The President believes that theEuropeans have the capacity to take action to resolve this and that they have alreadytaken actions that are significant, but serious risks remain.
And there's no question thatmarkets remains skeptical that the measures taken thus far are sufficient to secure therecovery in Europe and remove the risk that the crisis will deepen.
So we obviously believe that more steps needto be taken.
And we, in our consultations — which are quite regular with the European– with our European counterparts involve discussions of the lessons we learned fromthe experience we had here in terms of the need to take out — to take, rather, difficultsteps to have our banks go through strict stress tests, for example, and require themto raise capital to strengthen their balance sheets, as well as the politically difficultsteps taken here to bail out institutions for the benefit of the overall economy.
He's discussed those efforts that he engagedin to turn around the economy here, to restart job creation and secure growth.
And in hisconversations, and obviously the conversations that Secretary Geithner as well as Brainardand others have had with their counterparts, they've discussed how some of those lessonsthat we learned here might be applied in Europe.
With that, Mark, you are the last.
Jay, back on Wisconsin.
Is it your– are you trying to tell us that you don’t think the President has decidedly distancedhimself from the recall vote in Wisconsin? He doesn’t give a speech about it; he hasn'tbeen there since February.
CARNEY: I think I just made clear thatthe President stands by the Democratic candidate and made that clear right after the primary.
And for other efforts to support Mr.
Barrett's candidacy, I would refer you to the President'scampaign.