Entries in Jay Carney (20)


White House: No Price Tag for Presidential Access

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- The White House Monday pushed back against reports that President Obama’s nonprofit advocacy group, Organizing for Action, is offering wealthy donors access to the president.

“No,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters when asked if access to Obama is for sale.

The New York Times reported last week that donors who contribute at least $500,000 to the advocacy group are guaranteed a seat at quarterly meetings with the president.  The group was formerly known as Organizing for America, the president’s campaign operation.

Carney declined to comment directly on the quarterly meetings or say whether donating that much money would guarantee access to the president.

“The president is engaged in an effort to pass items on his agenda,” he said. “And outside organizations that support the agenda, like organizations that are environmental in nature and support aspects of the president’s environmental agenda, or organizations that support his manufacturing agenda…administration officials can meet with them, including the president.”

Carney repeatedly stressed that OFA is an “independent” organization, not affiliated with the White House.

“The president has been very clear what his agenda is. This is an independent organization that supports the policy initiatives that the president puts forward, not unlike a variety of so-called, you know, 501(c)(4) organizations. The fact of the matter is the president has continually pressed for greater transparency in our political system,” he said. “But this is not an organization, based on what they’ve said, that is involved in political campaigns. It is involved in issue advocacy.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Would Sequester Cuts Make US a Second-Rate Power?

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- With sweeping budget cuts looming, ABC News pressed the White House Thursday about how these cuts would really impact America’s military might. Here's the transcript from the exchange:

    JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: Jay, the current secretary of defense said that if the sequester cuts go into effect, we would turn into a second-rate power. Does the president agree that if these cuts go into effect, America will become a second-rate power?

    WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: The president agrees with his secretary of defense — his current as well as his future. He agrees with the speaker of the House, he agrees with the numerous Republicans who have said on the record that the onerous cuts in the sequester to defense — the across-the-board, indiscriminate cuts to defense -- will harm our national security interests, will reduce our readiness, will result in a reduction in flight hours, will result, have resulted already in changes in our rotation for aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf. These are real-world consequences. They also will result, as we learned yesterday, in hundreds of thousands of furlough notices to the men and women who are part of the national security team who work every day to protect the United States and our citizens. So, you know, the consequences here are real.

    KARL: But, Jay –

    CARNEY: What we unfortunately see these days — including in an article in The New York Times today — is an indication from Republicans that they don’t really care; that they’re anticipating the sequester will go into effect. And they’re not willing to do what the American public — as we’ve seen in poll after poll — overwhelmingly supports, which is adopt the president’s position of eliminating the sequester through a balanced deficit reduction plan.

    They’re not willing to protect the jobs of what the CBO predicts could be up to 750,000 Americans by asking oil and gas companies to forego their taxpayer subsidies or corporate jet owners to give up their special tax break. They’re not willing to do that, and this is very disappointing.

    KARL: But Jay, on the military spending specifically, even if the cuts go into effect, the U.S. will spend more than China, Russia, all of Europe combined, far more. If we’re a second-rate power, who’s the first-rate power?

    CARNEY: Look, I don’t think the issue here is the language you use to describe it, because every characterization you make of it, if you’re being honest about it, is negative. The impact will be negative. It will harm our national security, and that is a problem.

    Moreover, it will harm the tens of thousands of children who would be thrown off of Head Start. It will harm children who depend on mental health services, seniors who depend on services. It will harm first responders across the country who will get furlough notices or layoff notices, teachers and the like.

    This is — the consequences of this are real. They are not — this is not just — there seems to be a willingness, unfortunately, among Republicans on the Hill to reject the opinions of the vast majority of the American people, reject, obviously, the reasoned and moderate propositions put forward by and proposals put forward by the president and to adopt this approach that says, you know, again, we would rather protect these special interest tax breaks than take action, very simple action, to keep those Americans in their jobs.

    KARL: But put aside the Republicans for a while. Well, what do you say to Americans who, through this recession, had to go through — they’ve had to make adjustments in their own family budgets and to think that, you know, cutting 3 percent of an overall budget, 10 percent of a specific part of the budget, that, that — the only way to do that is to do these draconian cuts; it will jeopardize national security, will mean forest fires won’t be able to put out (sic), will mean prosecutors will have to let crooks go. I mean, how do you — what do you say to American businesspeople –

    CARNEY: Look, the facts are the facts, Jon, and what we would say is the sequester… as everyone recognized at the time, was specifically designed to be so loathsome that Congress would actually be compelled to compromise — that was the idea — and compromise in coming up with the $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction in a way that protected our national security and that protected our vital interests like the children on Head Start or the seniors who rely on services, teachers and first responders. You know, the whole point was for it to be this bad, so that Congress would never go along with it.

    Unfortunately, there has been a change of heart in Congress, apparently, on the Republican side, especially in the House, and an embrace of an approach that has real world consequences for real people who are sitting at home or will be tonight after work, wondering if they’re going to have a job in a month or two months.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


White House Defends Biden’s ‘Double-Barrel’ Self-Defense Advice

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- The White House Wednesday defended Vice President Joe Biden’s provocative suggestions that those concerned about an intruder in their home should “get a double-barrel shotgun” and “fire two blasts outside the house.”

“This president and this vice president, this administration firmly supports our Second Amendment rights, upheld by the Constitution, and that includes the right of homeowners, law-abiding American citizens, to have a firearm at their home to protect themselves in their home,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told ABC News’ Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl.

During a Facebook Town Hall Tuesday, Biden told a questioner she’d be better off with a shotgun than an AR-15.  A shotgun is what Biden said he recommended to his own wife.

When pressed by Karl about whether the president agrees with Biden’s self-defense advice, Carney said the president did.

“I think the president does agree with the vice president that homeowners who are interested in utilizing their Second Amendment rights to own a firearm to protect themselves in their home, and their families in their home do not need a military-style assault weapon and that a shotgun would be a logical choice,” Carney said.


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Considers Libya Assault A ‘Terrorist Attack,’ White House Says

STR/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed on Wednesday that President Obama believes the deadly assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was a “terrorist attack” -- a term the president has not yet used in his characterization of the violence.

“It is our view as an administration, the president’s view, that it was a terrorist attack,” Carney told reporters.

The administration, which is still investigating the attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, initially suggested the assault was linked to broader protests fueled by an anti-Islam movie.

Last week, Carney said it was “self-evident” that the violence was a terrorist attack.

“It is, I think by definition, a terrorist attack when there is a prolonged assault on an embassy with weapons,” he reiterated on Wednesday.

On Monday, the president told ABC’s The View that “there is no doubt that the kind of weapons that were used, the on-going assault, that it wasn’t just a mob action.”

Asked why Obama has declined to use the term “terrorist attack,” Carney said “there’s no reason that he chose the words he did beyond trying to provide a full explanation of his views and his assessment that we need to await further information that the investigation will uncover.”

Republicans, including GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, have criticized the president and his administration for not leveling with the American people.

In a letter to the president, eight House Republican committee chairmen on Wednesday said they are “disturbed” by the administration’s statements that would “lead the American public to believe this attack was a protest gone wrong, rather than what it truly was -- a terrorist attack on the United States on the anniversary of 9/11.”

“This seems like a pre-9/11 mindset -- treating an act of war solely as a criminal matter, rather than also prioritizing the gathering of intelligence to prevent future attacks,” the lawmakers wrote.  “Moreover, given that violence in the region continues unabated, what actions are we undertaking to deter terrorists from capitalizing on the successful Benghazi attack, or launching similar attacks elsewhere in the region or in the homeland?”

Carney said on Wednesday that the administration has provided as much information as possible.

“We made clear that our initial assessment and interim reports were based on information that was available at the time,” he said.  ”It continues to be the case that we provided information based on what we know -- not based on speculation, but based on what we know -- acknowledging that we are continuing an investigation that will undoubtedly uncover more facts, and as more facts and more details emerge we will, when appropriate, provide them to you.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


White House Says EPA Official’s ‘Crucify’ Comments Are ‘Inaccurate’

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House Thursday distanced itself from comments made by a regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in which he suggested government officials should take lessons from ancient Romans and “crucify” people not complying with environmental laws.

In a 2010 video brought to light by frequent EPA foe Senator James Inhofe, R-Okla., EPA Region VI Administrator Al Almendariz said that he gave the following analogy to his staff about his “philosophy of enforcement,” which he acknowledged being crude and perhaps inappropriate, but shared anyway: “It is kind of like how the Romans used to conquer villages in the Mediterranean -- they’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere and they’d find the first five guys they saw, they’d crucify ‘em, and that little town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

Almendariz continued: “And so, you make examples out of people who are, in this case, not complying with the law. You find people who are not complying with the law and you hit ‘em as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, there’s a deterrent effect there. And companies that are smart see that. They don’t want to play that game, and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up. And that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Thursday noted that Almendariz has “apologized and made clear that those comments are an inaccurate way to characterize the work EPA does.”

Carney went on to argue that the comments also do not reflect Obama administration policy, saying “since the president took office, oil and gas production has increased each year. Oil is currently at an eight-year high, and domestic natural gas production is higher than at any time in history. On federal lands and waters alone, oil production is up 13 percent since the president took office. And in 2010, for the first time in 13 years, imported oil accounted for less than 50 percent of the oil consumed in America.”

Inhofe was not convinced. “With an election on the horizon,” Inhofe said in a press release, “President Obama is pretending to be a friend of oil and natural gas, claiming he’s for an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach, but Administrator Armendariz’s comments reveal the true story: while President Obama has photo ops in front of pipelines in Oklahoma, his E.P.A. is working aggressively to ‘crucify’ oil and gas producers so they can end hydraulic fracturing, knowing full well that if you stop hydraulic fracturing, you kill domestic oil and gas production.”

Asked why Almendariz was still employed at the EPA despite the president’s past calls for softening crude rhetoric, Carney said “he’s apologized and…what he said is clearly not representative of either this president’s belief in the way that we should approach these matters or in the way that he has approached these matters, either from this office here in the White House or at the EPA.” Region VI covers Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and dozens of tribal nations.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


White House Downplays GAO Report on Questionable Bonuses

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The White House Monday downplayed a Government Accountability Office report calling into question the effectiveness of bonuses distributed in a $8.3 billion demonstration program for Medicare Advantage.

The bonuses are part of a scaled structure that is supposed to encourage “larger and faster annual quality improvement,” the report says. One of the problems, GAO says, is that because of its poor design, most of the bonuses go not to excelling plans but to satisfactory ones. The size of this demonstration project is considerable; the GAO recommended that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius cancel this bonus payment system.

Asked about the report, White House press secretary Jay Carney immediately changed the subject to the $200 billion in projected savings from eliminating improper payments under the health care law. While briefly addressing “the temporary demonstration program” as one way “to improve the quality of care in Medicare Advantage,” Carney said it was important to put the $8.3 billion “in context....And in fact we’re phasing out over $200 billion in overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans on schedule.”

The GAO report said that the bonus plan in the Medicare Advantage demonstration program undermines deficit reduction goals. The “reliance on predemonstration performance data, the absence of an appropriate comparison group of MA plans, and design features that are inconsistent with its research goal make it unlikely that the demonstration will produce meaningful results,” the report says.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who requested the GAO study, said that the “timing of this demonstration program raises serious questions about the Obama administration’s use of taxpayer dollars for political purposes. According to the GAO report, ‘The largest annual offset will occur in 2012 -- 71 percent -- followed by 32 percent in 2013 and 16 percent in 2014.’ Given that Medicare’s open enrollment season begins in October, this report raises serious questions about whether the purpose of this demonstration was to mask the health spending law’s cuts to seniors’ Medicare benefits for political purposes.”

Asked about the failure of the health care law to shore up Medicare, Carney said “part of why it hasn’t worked yet is because Republicans in Congress refuse to accept the basic premise that we need to take a balanced approach to our deficit and debt reduction. They are out there telling the American people, through the Ryan Republican budget, that we need to dramatically cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans -- dramatically, and we will pay for that in large part by gutting discretionary spending programs, investments in education and innovation and basic research, in infrastructure, and by ending … Medicare as we know it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama’s Warning to Supreme Court Not ‘Intimidation’

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s stern warning that it would be “an unprecedented extraordinary step” for the Supreme Court to overturn his signature health care law was “the reverse of intimidation,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday.

“He certainly was not contending that the Supreme Court doesn’t have as its right and responsibility to overturn laws passed by Congress as unconstitutional,” Carney said during a fiery exchange with White House reporters. "He was referring to 85 years of judicial precedent, of Supreme Court precedent, with regard to matters like the one under consideration.”

In what seemed like a pre-emptive strike, the president said Monday he was “confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,” adding that he would “remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint -- that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”

In his defense Wednesday, Carney said the president did “not at all” regret using the word “unprecedented.”

“His point about Congress was simply that the Supreme Court, since the New Deal, has deferred to the legislature, those who are elected by people around the country, to write laws for them and, in this matter, on matters of national economic importance, to pass laws that regulate the economy and regulate areas of the economy like our health care market,” he said.

Obama’s comments had prompted criticism that he was pressuring the court, and led one federal judge to demand that the administration formally explain the president’s statement.

Following the request from U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Smith, Attorney General Eric Holder defended Obama’s comments Wednesday but said the Justice Department would “respond appropriately.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


White House Dings Romney for Saying Russia Is Top Geopolitical Foe

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday took issue with comments from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stating that Russia was America’s “number one geopolitical foe.”

Carney, a former Moscow-based correspondent for TIME magazine, stated that “in a world where al Qaeda is so clearly the preeminent threat to the United States, and similar organizations, it seems a little inaccurate to make that statement about Russia where Russia is a county that we have been able to cooperate with on very important issues even as we disagree with them on others and that includes missile defense and Syria.”

Romney had been responding to the comments President Obama made on Monday to outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, unaware that a microphone was making the private remarks quite public.

On issues, “particularly missile defense,” Obama told Medvedev that incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin needed to give him “space.”

“This is my last election.  After my election I have more flexibility,” the president said.

Medvedev said he would “transmit the information to Vladimir.”

Appearing on CNN, Romney said Russia “is without question our number one geopolitical foe.  They fight every cause for the world’s worst actors.  The idea that he has more flexibility in mind for Russia is very very troubling indeed.”

He noted that “Russia continues to support Syria, supports Iran, has fought us with crippling sanctions we wanted to have the world put in place against Iran.  Russia is not a friendly character on the world stage and for this president to be looking for greater flexibility where he doesn’t have to answer to the American people in his relations with Russia is very very troubling, very alarming.  This is a president who is telling us one thing and is doing something else.”

Carney said “the relationship that president Obama has established with Russia when he pressed the reset button in 2009 has born a great deal of fruit, including Russia’s cooperation with China at the United Nations in sanctioning Iran, Russia’s cooperation and assistance to the United States on our Afghanistan mission in terms of trans-shipment issues.”

On Tuesday, Obama responded to a question about what he meant by his open microphone comment, saying, “The only way I get this stuff done is if I’m consulting with the Pentagon, with Congress, if I’ve got bipartisan support and frankly, the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations.  I think the stories you guys have been writing over the last 24 hours is pretty good evidence of that.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


A Spring Thaw? Obama, Congressional Leadership Search for Common Ground

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- For the first time since last summer, President Obama met at the White House Wednesday afternoon with congressional leadership to try and identify some areas of legislative common ground.

What may be even more unusual than their rare meeting, however, is the positive tone coming out of the discussion, with leaders on both sides of the aisle using words like “fruitful,” “hopeful,” “cordial” and “substantive” to describe the hour-long meeting.

The White House lunch, attended by the president, vice president and the Democratic and Republican leader in both chambers of Congress, was the first time the group has met as a whole since last July, during the height of the debt ceiling negotiations.

With no looming deadlines or government default on the horizon, the Republican leaders and the White House are reporting that progress was made.

“It was a constructive and cordial meeting,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at the afternoon briefing.

The president, vice president and congressional leaders discussed ways to build on the political momentum from the recent bipartisan deal to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, focusing on energy policy and job creation.

“There is reason to hope that the conventional wisdom that holds that Congress held by the opposition party or largely controlled by the opposition party cannot get any business done with the president in an election year is wrong,” Carney said. “If folks focus on the areas of agreement and work in a cooperative, bipartisan fashion, we can advance the American people’s agenda.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, left the meeting hopeful that the Democratic leaders may finally consider some of the bipartisan energy and jobs bills passed by the House, and he said he was “encouraged by the attitude and the tone that we had during the meeting.”

“We had a positive lunch at the White House today and I think we discussed a number of areas where I believe there is common ground between the two political parties -- particularly on jobs and on energy,” Boehner told reporters afterwards. “We offered to work with the president on some of those bipartisan bills again that have been passed by the House. The president believed that there were some areas where we could find common ground and frankly I was encouraged by that.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was also encouraged that Senate Democrats appear willing to begin moving on some of the House-passed jobs bills awaiting further consideration in the Senate.

As for tackling the country’s energy challenges, McConnell and Boehner emphasized a talking point the president has also repeated lately, calling for an “all-of-the-above” policy in light of the rising cost of gas. The president has blasted Republicans in recent weeks for focusing too much on drilling, touting his administration’s wide-ranging energy policy, while Republicans contend that the president is finally coming around to a belief the GOP has held the past few years in calling for an all-of-the-above energy policy.

“We talked about a number of energy policies. We talked about those bills that have come out of the House. The president thought that on some of those, we could find some common ground,” Boehner revealed. “I did press the president on the Keystone pipeline. The president said, ‘Well, you’re going to get part of it.’ I just wish we were getting the part that would actually deliver the oil out of Canada and out of North Dakota.

“The part of the Keystone pipeline we’re getting the president has nothing to do with,” McConnell added. “It doesn’t require his approval to build a pipeline from Oklahoma to the Gulf [of Mexico]. We hope he will reconsider.  The unions that are going to build that pipeline are aggressively in favor of moving ahead. We know the thing was studied for four years already. We know the Nebraska issue’s been solved. There’s really no reason not to create those jobs now, rather than after the president’s election.”

Even though it was the first time the group had met together since last summer, and the speaker said the leaders were limited in the scope of their discussion, Boehner said he thought it was a “a very fruitful conversation.”

“We only had an hour. Couldn’t cover the whole waterfront of issues, but I think we’ve outlined what the discussion was and we’ll see whether there’s another lunch invitation anytime soon,” he said. “The president’s support of the JOBS Act was very clear, and I think his comments about trying to find some common ground on some of our bipartisan energy bills were also welcomed signs.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


White House Zings Trump: Won’t ‘Comb Over’ Endorsement of Romney

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Asked at Thursday’s press briefing if President Obama pursued an endorsement from Donald Trump, White House press secretary Jay Carney took a shot at the real estate mogul’s hair, saying, “You know, I’m not going to comb over that question.”

When pressed, Carney said, “The president made his views on Mr. Trump clear at a dinner that many of you attended,” referring to the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner, in which the president roasted Trump -- some say pettily -- with Daily Show writers providing Mr. Obama's punchlines.

“I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but nobody is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald,” President Obama said at the time. “And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like: did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”

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“All kidding aside, we all know about your credentials and experience,” Obama continued. “In an episode of Celebrity Apprentice...the men’s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. You, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. So ultimately, you didn’t blame Lil Jon or Meat Loaf, you fired Gary Busey. These are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well handled, sir. Well handled.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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