Press Briefing

March 23, 2012 | 45:25 | Public Domain

White House Press Briefings are conducted most weekdays from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the West Wing.

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Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 3/23/2012

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:06 P.M. EDT

MR. CARNEY:  Wow, kind of a light crowd.  Everybody is outside still, right?  Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Thanks for being here -- those of you who are here -- for your daily briefing.  (Laughter.)

I don't have any announcements to make.  I do have before me the week ahead, which I will make after I forget and you remind me, at the -- I'll deliver that at the end of the briefing.  But with that, I will go to questions.


Q    Jay, why did the President decide to weigh in on the shooting death of Trayvon Martin today? 

MR. CARNEY:  Ken, the President has given a number of interviews in the last several days.  This has been a major news story, as you know, and so he was certainly prepared to answer a question if he were to get one.  It is also true that some of you have asked me over recent days whether or not the President was aware of the incident, what he thought about it, and I chose not to talk about private conversations.  But as you could tell from the answer the President gave, obviously he is aware of it, was aware of it, and has thought about it.  And he shared his thoughts on the case today with you.  And that's my answer.

Q    The White House had appeared to be reluctant to talk about this case.  Was there some development?  Was there something that touched a nerve with the President where he wanted to speak out?

MR. CARNEY:  No.  Again, I think given that he's President of the United States and he's going to speak with you all and other reports with some regularity, it was inevitable, given the high-profile nature of this story, that he would be asked about it.  He was certainly -- had thought about it, was aware of what's happening with regard to it in terms of the investigation locally, by local law enforcement, the task force now that's been established by the governor of Florida, as well as the Department of Justice's investigation.  So given all that, it was inevitable probably that he would be asked about it, so he was -- he had thought about it and was prepared to answer that question when he got it.

Q    Does he have any intention to call Trayvon's parents?

MR. CARNEY:  I don't have any information in that regard, no.


Q    Jay, in the aftermath of this morning's announcement before that comment about the World Bank, can you tell us a little bit about how the President chose Mr. Kim?  How did -- at what point did he select him?  And what are some of the background details to this, what would seem to be a surprise announcement?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, first, he looked at all the reports in the press with lists of names, and he took those and then he added to them other candidates -- no.  (Laughter.)  This was a very deliberative process.  And the President understands the importance of the World Bank.  As he mentioned today, its name doesn’t really convey everything that the World Bank does and its important work.  And he wanted to find someone who was really perfectly suited for the World Bank's activities, especially now, in this time in history. 

Dr. Kim represented, with his combination of experience and expertise, the variety of things he's done in development and health, as well as, of course, being president of Dartmouth College, he represented to the President the ideal candidate for the job.  And that’s why he chose to nominate him.

Q    When did the President first meet Dr. Kim?

MR. CARNEY:  You know, I don’t have that information.  I'm not sure when they first met.

Q    Can you talk about who in the administration proposed him, or who may have been advocating for him?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, certainly, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner were advocates.  I believe Secretary Clinton might have been the first to suggest Dr. Kim.  Both those individuals were supporters of the idea -- which is not to suggest that others who were under consideration were not also seriously considered and supported by very senior advisors to the President.  They were.  There were a number of highly qualified individuals considered.

Q    Can you talk about what some of those names were now that you've announced the winner?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I'm not going to go -- I think some names that have been out there are accurate.  Look, a lot of them are people that the President relies on to this day for advice and counsel and guidance, including Larry Summers, including Ambassador Rice, including Senator Kerry, among three names that have been talked about, and those three individuals certainly are people that the President depends on quite a bit for their wisdom and counsel.

Q    Did any of them turn it down before he chose --

MR. CARNEY:  I think some of it's been reported, others have spoken to this; I'll let them do it for themselves.  I just wanted to make a point that while the President feels very strongly that Dr. Kim's combination of experience and expertise and vision make him the ideal candidate, there were a number of very qualified candidates who -- people who were considered by the President and who -- some of whom weren’t interested, some of whom -- all of whom the President relies on very strongly for advice and will continue to rely on.

Q    But was Dr. Kim his first choice?

MR. CARNEY:  Absolutely.


Q    Thank you.  Earlier in the week, when you were asked to comment on the Trayvon Martin case, either from you or something the President may have said, you said, “We’re not going to wade into a local law enforcement matter.”  What changed between then and now that caused the President to want to answer this question?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, two things.  One, the President, as I just mentioned, was inevitably going to be asked this given its prominence and the fact that he has interviews with the reporters.  Two, the President very --

Q    He could have passed --

MR. CARNEY:  That’s clear, he could have.  But he felt -- he did have some have thoughts on the matter.  He made clear at the top of his comments the importance he attaches to not -- to being careful about it because of the investigations that are ongoing. But he clearly had some thoughts about it as a parent and expressed those to you today.  So I think you -- I’m not going to elaborate on what the President said because I think he spoke pretty eloquently about it.

Q    One other question on the health care reform law.  Today, you have no doubt seen all of the attacks that have been brought on this White House, this administration, on the two-year anniversary.  The RNC in a statement said that, “President Obama is not celebrating.  He would rather Americans forget about his signature accomplishment because today it is a massive, undeniable failure, and a heap of broken promises.”  What is your response to some of this talk from Republicans and other Americans out there who are clearly still unhappy with health care reform?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I’ll say a couple of things to your last point.  I think there was a story just recently about the disparity in the amount of money spent in the propaganda PR wars on this issue -- 3-to-1, at least, spent against the Affordable Care Act in efforts to mischaracterize it and mislead Americans about what it is, versus those who advocated in favor of expanding health care coverage for 30 million Americans, expanding coverage for young Americans, expanding coverage for seniors by building on the private sector system that we have -- the private health insurance system that we have.  There’s a lot of misinformation about what the Affordable Care Act is.

The fact is, as you know, we’ve released a comprehensive report on the Affordable Care Act at its two-year anniversary today.  The President is very proud of the work that Congress did and his administration did to make this 100-year quest a reality.  And we are focused on implementing that bill, that law.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 2.5 million more young adults have health insurance on their parent's plan; 5.1 million seniors with Medicare saved $3.2 billion on their prescription drugs, and everyone on Medicare can get preventive services like mammograms now for free. 

Insurance companies must spend at least 80 percent of your premium dollars on health care and not overhead, and cannot raise your premiums by 10 percent or more with not accountability.  It is illegal now for insurance companies to deny coverage to children because of a preexisting condition, and in 2014, discriminating against anyone with a preexisting condition will be illegal.

Now, what the RNC and others who are critics of this leave out in their attacks is that they want to go back to a system where insurance companies have all the rules on their side -- not consumers, not the American people; where they can deny your coverage like that (snaps fingers) if you have a preexisting condition; where they can say no if you want to add your child to your health insurance policy; where they can throw you off your insurance policy if you get sick. 

Those are some of the benefits that critics would repeal.  And the President strongly believes that is a mistake, and he certainly will not shy away from the opportunity to debate that vision versus his own when it comes to providing health care to the American people.

Ann, and then April.

Q    Thank you, Jay.  The President, with his constitutional law background, does he have an interest in looking at what the Solicitor General is going to argue on Monday?  Has he asked to see any of the briefs on the Supreme Court arguments expected next week?

MR. CARNEY:  Honestly, Ann, I don't know if he has reviewed the briefs.  I know that he has great confidence in the Solicitor General and great confidence in the argument that will be made that, as we have said repeatedly, that the provision under review by the Court is definitely constitutional.

Q    Has he been part of any kind of review about the administration's position, government's position --

MR. CARNEY:  I mean, I know that he's been briefed on it, and he has had discussions about it, but nothing too substantive that I'm aware of.

Q    Now, the Florida shooting -- the President mentioned that the country should do some soul-searching, not just on the law, but the context of how it happened.  Does he think this is another one of those teachable moments?

MR. CARNEY:  I'm not going to elaborate on what the President said.  I think he spoke about it, and I'll leave it at what he said. 

The fact is, as many have said today and previously, the President believes this is a tragedy.  And as a parent, he can feel that, as you and other folks who are parents can understand, even more keenly the kind of grief that the Martins are suffering right now.  And I think that’s an observation that is broadly and widely shared.

Beyond that, I'll let the President's words stand.  And we'll certainly let the investigations proceed.

Q    Jay?

MR. CARNEY:  Yes.  April.

Q    Okay.

MR. CARNEY:  And then Mark.

Q    Back on the Trayvon Martin issue.  You said the President believes this is a major news story.  As a major news story, what has the President --

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t think -- sorry.  Go ahead.

Q    What has the President gotten?  Has he listened to the tapes?  And what kind of -- just on the tick-tock issue, what kind of information -- is he being updated by Justice?  Because I understand that Justice had a whole day at the early part of this week, they were trying to figure out how to handle the situation, and sending people there to help lessen tensions and things of that nature.  How has the President been involved leading up to today in this?

MR. CARNEY:  As far as how he gets his news, I think I've said on a number of occasions, he largely reads the news.  And I'm sure --

Q    Did he hear the tapes at all?

MR. CARNEY:  Not that I'm aware of.  But of course, I'm with him a lot but not all the time.  In my presence, he did not.  But I think he mostly reads about stories like this.  And I think -- it's not a question of believing if this is a big news story.  If you watch the news or read the newspaper, I think it is definitively a big story.  And that's why he -- we certainly expected that he would be asked about it at some point.

On the other matter, I don't -- not that I'm aware of.  I think -- he gets regular briefings from his senior advisors and updates on things.  But not -- there has not been, to my knowledge, any focused conversation or meeting involving the President on this issue.

Q    And also you said that you had not heard that the President had reached out and called the Martin family as of yet. He has typically done things like that in the past with other situations.  Do you expect that that could be a possibility --

MR. CARNEY:  I think that's what I was asked, whether he planned to, and I don't have any updates on phone calls he may or may not make in the future.

Q    And is he reaching out -- has he talked to Al Sharpton and Ben Jealous about this situation, particularly as --

MR. CARNEY:  Not that I'm aware of.

Q    -- the issue of racial profiling has been raised?

MR. CARNEY:  Not that I'm aware of, April.

Q    Okay.  And on another subject, what do you think about this -- the controversy about the Etch-a-Sketch?  Not the --

MR. CARNEY:  I have one at home.  My children have one.

Q    Do you have yours, too?  (Laughter.)

MR. CARNEY:  I didn't bring that in, no.

Q    What do you think about the controversy?

MR. CARNEY:  I was asked this I think yesterday or the day before on Air Force One.  And we -- I and others watch with interest the developments in the Republican primary, but we're focused on the work we're doing here.  The President is very focused on the work he's doing.  I don't have much comment on that.

Q    So, eight months out from the general election, all he has to do -- Mitt Romney -- is to shake and reset himself.  Do you think that, eight months out, a major candidate should be resetting themselves?

MR. CARNEY:  I appreciate the effort, but I will not -- (laughter) -- (someone shows their Etch-a-Sketch.)

Q    How much did it cost?

Q    How much did it cost?  About $5. 

Q    Do you actually have one at home?  You said you had one at home?

MR. CARNEY:  I have two children.  Yes, we have an Etch-a-Sketch.

Q    Do you ever play?  (Laughter.)

MR. CARNEY:  It's been a while.  My kids are getting a little older.

Q    Do you use it at the office?  (Laughter.)

MR. CARNEY:  I have not brought it in.

Q    Week ahead.  (Laughter.)

MR. CARNEY:  I did say Mark was next.

Q    Jay, despite what you've said about the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, it's still not clear to me why the President didn't choose this anniversary to do an event, make a statement.  Yes, you've done a report, but it just seems unnatural.  Do you see this as a political liability?

MR. CARNEY:  No.  Look, again, I would refer you to the campaign to talk about what the campaign is doing.  As many of you have and hopefully millions and millions of Americans have, in my -- or maybe millions and millions of Americans have -- the campaign has put out a video, which I think features, among other things, the significant accomplishment that the Affordable Care Act represents.  We have put out the report today that includes a statement by the President on the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. 

We are focused, as an administration, on implementing the Affordable Care Act so that all of its benefits will be in place for Americans receiving health insurance and health benefits.  That is, I think, a pretty full plate of things that we are doing with regards to the Affordable Care Act and, specifically, to make note of and mark the anniversary of the signing.

But look, this was a -- the important thing about the Affordable Care Act is what it does.  And that’s what the administration is focused on.  And Secretary Sebelius, Secretary Solis, Valerie Jarrett, others have been involved in highlighting some of the important provisions of the Affordable Care Act this week, and will continue to be.  And the President speaks frequently about the Affordable Care Act at events.

So I made the point the other day that the anniversary is not something that the President is going to have an event around, but it is quite clearly a major accomplishment for him and for the administration, for the Congress -- one that was the result of literally a century's worth of effort by leaders in Washington, and which has resulted in already the benefits that I numerated in answer to a previous question.

Q    Is the administration making any preparations for the possibility that the Supreme Court will rule against the individual mandate at the end of the term?

MR. CARNEY:  I would refer you to HHS, but not that I'm aware.  We are, of course, actively working with the states to implement the law, the exchanges, the other provisions of it, and believe very strongly in the argument that the Affordable Care Act in its entirety is constitutional.


Q    Jay, on Trayvon Martin.  Since the President does have strong feelings, as you said and as he said, why did it take the Justice Department so long to intervene if this young man was killed on February 26 -- admittedly, the media didn’t jump on it early either.  We're not perfect; it was not something that got national attention right away.  However, the Justice Department is there to protect people's rights.  In retrospect, do you think that the Justice Department was too slow to get involved?

MR. CARNEY:  I would refer your question to the Justice Department.  Justice is investigating this. 

Q    But it's the President's Attorney General --

MR. CARNEY:  I would refer you to the Justice Department for their procedures and how they look into matters like this and make decisions about investigating.  I just don’t have a comment on that.

Q    On a different subject, TSA.  There's been some controversy about the administration trying to cut back on armed pilots -- it's a program, the Flight Deck Officers program.  Is that anything that you focused on?

MR. CARNEY:  I have to take that question.  I'm sure you should largely seek your answer over at TSA.

Q    After the President's announcement for his nominee for the World Bank, there's been some blowback, even some harsh criticism from people in India, in Brazil and other emerging economies.  Their argument is that it's about time for a non-American to take that post; it shouldn’t be an automatic.  What's your reaction to that?

MR. CARNEY:  I would simply say that the President nominated someone today that he believes will be an exceptional president of the World Bank, and whose experience in the field that is the central principle behind the World Bank's mission -- that is, to reduce poverty and support development -- is broad and extensive.

We have already seen extensive support for the nomination, statements of support not just from Americans like former President Bill Clinton and Paul Farmer, but the Rwandan President, Kagame, who says, “I was delighted to learn that Jim Kim has been nominated for this post, as he is a true friend of Africa and well known for his decade of work to support us in developing an efficient health system in Rwanda.”

So I think his -- we certainly hope that, and have seen already, that Dr. Kim will receive broad international support.

Q    That's assuming he is confirmed by the board.  When do citizens of emerging economies get their shot?  When does it stop being an automatic that being an American citizen --

MR. CARNEY:  My extensive -- or not so extensive research into the history of the World Bank and how its leaders are chosen has been exhausted already.  (Laughter.)  So I think you ought to take your question perhaps to State or Treasury.

Q    And finally, let me follow up from the Rose Garden.  The President -- the one sentence that the President uttered out there, “If I had a son he’d look like Trayvon,” is the thing that’s really driving the coverage of that, his statement today. What exactly does he mean by that?  Can you elaborate on that?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think he spoke very clearly and thoughtfully about, on the personal side, his reactions to this case, and I’m not going to elaborate on that.  The President has spoken and I’ll point you to what he said.

Q    A follow-up?

MR. CARNEY:  Let me move around a little bit.  Jared.  I’ll follow up, Andrei?  In a second.

Q    Jay, when the President marks the anniversaries of legislation like the Lilly Ledbetter Act, or when he marks the anniversaries of major events -- and I’m sure that there might be something on May 1st for the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden -- I just -- anniversaries do matter, so I guess -- I’m trying to understand why even compared to its siblings, other legislation -- I mean, he’s kicked out even just statements for things like Roe v. Wade -- so state legislations, Supreme Court decisions, major events -- why does this one among its siblings not get some kind of bigger marker?

MR. CARNEY:  Jared, I’m not sure how else I can answer the question.  I think I’ve answered it a number of ways over a number of days.  The implication is somehow that it is not an anniversary that is significant and therefore the underlying accomplishment is not significant.  Everything we have done and he has done and he had said proves otherwise.  The lack of an event on a day when he announces the World Bank, a day when he has other meetings, and a day when he flies to Korea should not suggest otherwise. 

We are focused on the implementation of it.  And if the -- but again, I think you need to examine the premise behind these questions, because if the implication is that we are somehow not, and the President is not, fully taking ownership of the Affordable Care Act, I mean, look at everything else that says that that’s a ridiculous assertion, including, again, as somebody who has simply watched it, as anyone else can, online, look at the campaign’s video -- because this is all, like most questions that you’re asking, in the context of the campaign.  And somebody said, oh, is it a problem politically?  Well, it certainly looks to me, as an observer, that the campaign doesn't think so -- the President's campaign doesn't think so. 

And the report that we put out today suggests we don't think so.  And the fact that the critics of the reform have no answer to the question, would you then have it be the way it was before when insurance companies could throw you off if you got sick, or they could prevent you from getting insurance or your child from getting insurance because he or she has a preexisting condition  -- they have no answer to that.  So this is not a debate we will shy away from.

Q    And one other thing, Jay, about the President, when he was on the -- on an official event last night, there was an interaction with someone who was interrupting the President.  And he said, if you -- something along the lines of, if you want to have your own rally.  Was the President campaigning that night or even in that moment?  Because the work "rally" just seems like a loaded campaign word.  I'm just trying to figure out if the President was campaigning or if this was an official event.

Q    Jared, he was at Ohio State University, where they have developed the fastest electric car in the world, at 308 miles per hour.  And they're developing one that can go 400 miles per hour. That's an amazing thing, right?  I know, he wishes he could test-drive it, as I did.  But the -- as part of a two-day trip to highlight his all-of-the-above energy strategy, which includes, obviously, a focus on development of battery technology, which is the essential ingredient to these kinds of automobiles.  So the answer to your question is, no.  The gentleman that you're referring to was very persistent, and anybody who was there obviously wanted to have himself heard, and the President accepted the book that he passed up.  But that was really all there was to it.

Q    So the President doesn't think he's campaigning when he's at that event?

MR. CARNEY:  No, Jared, he doesn’t.  But thank you for the question.


Q    -- talk about the Korea trip, and specifically the DMZ visit.  I know we've talked with your colleagues before on the call about this.  But the President has been to Korea before.  This is the first time he's visiting the DMZ.  Can I ask you on camera, is this a poke in the eye for the new Korean leadership that has taken place since the other visits?

MR. CARNEY:  No, it is something that, obviously, previous Presidents have done.  This President is looking forward to visiting the DMZ.  I think it is -- reflects the commitment to our South Korean allies, to the security of South Korea.  It reflects the President's appreciation for the U.S. troops who are stationed in Korea.  It is not about change of leadership in North Korea.

Our issues with North Korea are today as they were in the past, and we're continuing to focus on that as part of the overall issue of nuclear security.  The summit itself, which the President initiated with the summit he held here in Washington, reflects his extraordinary commitment to the issue of nuclear security globally -- because there is really no greater threat to the security of the American people than the potential for terrorists to acquire nuclear weapons. 

And that is why he is focused both on the supply and the demand of this problem -- the demand being terrorist groups, principally al Qaeda, that seek to harm Americans.  He has focused very aggressively the fight against al Qaeda, as you know, and he has focused and his entire administration has focused on working with the 50 nations who are a party of the summit on the issue of securing loose nuclear materials and preventing them from getting into the hands of terrorists.

Q    Is the deal with North Korea, in the President's view, now a dead letter because of the nuclear -- because of the satellite launch that is scheduled?

MR. CARNEY:  Sorry, the deal?

Q    Well, sorry, the separate -- let's rephrase that.  Is  -- are the separate developments that are expected -- the North Korean nuclear freeze, the shipment of food -- however you care to characterize it -- is the hope for a breakthrough with North Korea a dead letter because of the satellite launch?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think I made very clear, and others have, our view of the proposed launch and the violation it represents of North Korea's nuclear obligations and the very dim view we take of that and how -- the impact it might have on the food program.  But I don't have any updates for you on that.


Q    Just a quick follow-up on --

MR. CARNEY:  Okay, and then on --

Q    Will he be addressing the satellite launch, perhaps when he visits the DMZ?  Or how will he address that?  Or will he?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think we'll have to see.  I don't have any announcements that the President might make or statements that he might make that I'm going to make from here.


Q    Thank you, Jay.  And we do cover the Trayvon case, too, so I do have a follow-up --

MR. CARNEY:  I just get follow-ups on everything today.

Q    But my follow-up was on the World Bank.  Does the President intend to lobby personally for his candidate -- talk to his international counterparts maybe in the coming week or elsewhere?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, he certainly may.  He feels very strongly that Dr. Kim is an excellent nominee, an excellent candidate, the right person for this job at this time.  I certainly wouldn’t preclude that possibility.  I don’t have -- I haven't had that conversation with him or heard it discussed within the context of this summit.  But we are certainly advocating for Dr. Kim.

Q    And then, secondly, I'll just say in the same vein, he's not running unopposed.  The Nigerian Minister of Finance of Economy has been put forward -- she has a difficult name, but she has a strong reputation and professional qualifications.  She used to run the World Bank Group as managing director.  So what makes your candidate better than she is?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I'm not going to get into a comparison of this candidate to others, except to say that this candidate, the President's nominee, is extremely qualified, has a broad diversity of experience within the very fields that are central to the World Bank's mission.  And the President certainly hopes that he will win the support at the World Bank and from the board and become the next president.

Q    On Korea?

MR. CARNEY:  Yes, on Korea.  And then -- yes.

Q    On the Korean trip, as the President heads to South Korea, does he regard North Korea or Iran as a greater threat to global security regarding nuclear weapons?

MR. CARNEY:  You mean between the two?

Q    Yes.

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t think we have a ranking.  I think we're concerned about both nations and their -- in the case of North Korea, the fact that they -- what they've done on nuclear weapons; and then, on Iran, the obvious violations of their international obligations and their refusal to give up their nuclear weapons ambitions.

So both -- actions by both countries, by both regimes threaten regional stability and threaten the nuclear security of the globe.  So that is why this administration is so focused on preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, and why it is focused on working with our allies to get North Korea to give up its nuclear program so that it can rejoin the community of nations.  These are both very important issues.

Q    Given how personal the President’s remarks were on the Trayvon Martin shooting, was he -- and this might come off wrong -- but was he eager to talk about it?  Did he want to talk about it?  I know you said it was inevitable, but --

MR. CARNEY:  He can obviously choose to answer a question or not, so he chose to answer this and had some thoughts to offer on it.  But I’m not going to psychoanalyze him for you.


Q    Thanks, Jay.  Is the President fully convinced that this is the right time to resume military aid for Egypt?  And does he have full confidence in the military council that is committed to transition to civilian leadership?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I don’t have any update for you on our position about that.  I think the State Department has provided information on this.  Egypt is an important ally in the region.  We have worked closely with Egypt in this period of transition and will continue to do so.  But for specifics about the decisions with regard to military aid I think I’d point you to the State Department.


Q    Jay, the Vice President this morning in his speech was very critical of Mitt Romney and his Social Security proposals to raise the retirement age and slow the growth of benefits.  What’s the White House position on Social Security?  Are we going to see an proposals, specifics proposals before the election?

MR. CARNEY:  I think you saw in the President’s -- both in his State of the Union last year and the President’s deficit reduction proposal from September, that we believe that we can work together to take steps to improve Social Security, but that the immediate -- with regard to entitlements, the more immediate issue that needs to be addressed is Medicare.  And the President put forward in his budget proposals on entitlements that part of a balanced approach to getting the kind of significant deficit reduction that we need to get our fiscal house in order.

I don’t have any new proposals to suggest to you that we’re going to make.  But the President is very focused on the need to deal with our deficit and debt problems and do it in a way that does not unfairly burden certain segments of society, and that would include obviously seniors.  One of the problems that we have with the Ryan/Republican proposal, both iterations -- which is clearly becoming the Republican proposal -- I think that candidates for office have endorsed it -- is that it is so unbalanced. 

It does not -- the key element of any plausible proposal to get our deficits and debt under control is that it have balance so that it is not unfairly burdensome to any sector of American society.  That has been recognized by not just Democrats, not just the President, but Republicans.  Republican leaders on this issue have said it has to have balance.  It has to include not just discretionary cuts, not just defense cuts, not just reforms of entitlement programs, but revenues. 

For some reason, even though this is established, moderate, reasonable thinking from leaders of both parties on this issue, the Ryan budget, the Republican budget, the budget that Republicans seem to be rallying behind doesn’t do that, it does the opposite.  It gives more tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans -- and to pay for them, asks seniors and others to foot the bill.

Q    But on Social Security --

MR. CARNEY:  I don’t have any updates for you on --

Q    -- tax increase on Social Security.  You’re not talking about a balanced approach to that, are you?  Are you saying that there should be a tax increase --

MR. CARNEY:  The President has a plan that he’s put forward. I have no proposals beyond the President’s plan to provide to you.  The fact of the matter is we can get a handle on our deficits and debt if we take the balanced approach that the President put forward, that the Simpson-Bowles commission put forward, that the Rivlin-Domenici commission put forward, that the Gang of Six put forward.  The three -- the last three included Republicans.  Only the President's proposal and -- I mean, you guys can conclude on your own and make an analysis of why Republicans don’t support it.  Because leading Republicans have supported balanced approaches to this problem.  They should support a balanced approach when it comes to actually getting it done.

Yes, in the back.

Q    Thank you, Jay.  A question on the President's trip to Korea.  North Korea just say any statement coming out about their nuclear weapon they would take as a declaration of war.  So how  -- I just want to know what's the reaction of the White House to that?

MR. CARNEY:  I hadn't heard that statement, so I don’t have a reaction for you. 

Yes, sir.

Q    Jay, given the worldwide financial upheavals in recent years, world leaders have been talking about reforms of the world financial systems.  But with the heads of IMF and World Bank still coming out of Europe and the United States, just like decades ago, does the White House believe that such reform has been proceeding on a satisfactory pace or anything?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I'm not sure -- I understand that this is a question that is loosely pegged to the announcement of our nominee for the World Bank president.  I think the World Bank's mission is focused on reducing poverty and supporting development, not the international financial system.

But this President, in the midst of a dire financial crisis that threatened to cause a global meltdown, acted quite aggressively to prevent the meltdown, and has passed, with Congress's support, a law that reforms Wall Street and ensures that we don’t have the same kind of situation that helped precipitate the global financial crisis in 2007, 2008.

And that experience is an experience that we share with others around the globe, and the lessons that we learned from it. And this I think is something I've talked about when we discussed the European -- the eurozone crisis and the efforts there to get a handle on that, and the fact that Secretary Geithner has been very engaged with his European counterparts on that issue and offering the kind of advice that he can, having personally been involved in the crisis here and the efforts to end it. 

But beyond that, I'm not sure that the announcement today goes particularly to your question.


Q    Thanks, Jay.  I want to go back for a minute to the health care anniversary.  The Republicans obviously are celebrating the anniversary -- I think they put a banner up and all of this.  And you said earlier today that the propaganda spending against the health care law was like 3 to 1.  And my question is, wouldn’t an appearance or an event by the President help offset that?

MR. CARNEY:  We are focused on implementing the Affordable Care Act.  We also support those who are marking the anniversary, those who support -- who are marking it and are supportive of the Affordable Care Act.  We have put out our own report.

There will be -- you put it in the political context, which is the only context within which Republicans put it, because they have no policy that’s an answer to the need for health care reform.  And there will be an opportunity for the President to debate the merits of reforming our health care system in a way that builds on the private sector -- private insurance system that we have, but does not allow insurance companies to deprive Americans of health insurance because they develop an illness, or prevent them from getting health insurance because they have preexisting conditions, and puts other restrictions on insurance companies to ensure that they spend at least 80 percent of your premium dollars on health care and not overhead, that they can't raise your premiums by 10 percent or more with no accountability.

I mean, this is the other side of the argument.  And that debate will be engaged in the fall if the Republican nominee feels so strongly about it.  It will be an interesting debate, no doubt, should at a political level, one of the architects of this health care reform, be the nominee for the Republican Party -- because, as many have noted in both parties, the individual mandate provision of the President's Affordable Care Act bears striking similarity to the individual mandate that was put in place in Massachusetts.

Any others?  Chris.

Q    Jay, earlier this week, Elizabeth Warren told me she wants to see the President complete his evolution on same-sex marriage --

MR. CARNEY:  I saw that story by you, Chris.

Q    It was pretty cool, wasn't it?

MR. CARNEY:  You're a star.  (Laughter.)

Q    Anyway, Elizabeth Warren said that marriage equality is morally right.  Will the President take her advice before the November election?

MR. CARNEY:  Chris, I have no updates for you on that issue.

Q    As chair on the congressional panel overseeing TARP reforms, Ms. Warren oversaw the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars to banks on the verge of collapse, and she also served as special assistant to the President on the establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  So if the President is going to take her advice on these very complex issues, why wouldn't he do so on this very simple issue of marriage?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, the President appreciates Elizabeth Warren's advice and service that she provided on these very critical issues that you talked about.  And he gets advice from people he respects on a variety of issues and he listens very carefully to that advice on those varieties of issues, and then he makes his decisions when he's ready to make them, and talks about them when he's got news to talk about.

Q    May I have one brief --

MR. CARNEY:  Andrei -- (speaks in Russian).  (Laughter.)

Q    Does Dr. Kim want the job of the President of the World Bank?


Q    Why didn't he say so?  (Laughter.)

MR. CARNEY:  Again, my knowledge of the history of this is not complete, but when you're nominated for a job -- I think this is true when you -- at least in our system, when we nominate potential Cabinet secretaries, you don't come out and make your case.

Q    They don’t speak?

MR. CARNEY:  I don't think that's always the case.  But in any -- I'm certain that Dr. Kim has graciously agreed to serve if confirmed.

Q    Would you graciously provide us with the week ahead?

MR. CARNEY:  I will graciously provide --

Q    -- just said a minute ago?

MR. CARNEY:  I just said, "Andrei, please, what?"

Q    Oh.

MR. CARNEY:  You, too?  Oh, you.  Okay. 

Week ahead.  On Sunday morning, the President will arrive in Seoul, Republic of Korea.  Later in the morning, the President will visit the Demilitarized Zone, also known as the DMZ.  At the Demilitarized Zone, the President will meet with American troops serving on the Korean Peninsula. 

In the afternoon, the President will hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.  Later, the President will visit the Blue House where he will attend a bilateral meeting with President Lee of the Republic of Korea, hold a joint news conference with President Lee, and attend a dinner with President Lee.  The President will spend the night in Seoul.

On Monday morning, the President will deliver remarks at Hankuk University in Seoul on his ongoing commitment to our continued efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.  Later in the day, the President will hold bilateral meetings with President Medvedev of Russia, President Hu Jintao of China, and President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan.  In the evening, the President will attend a Nuclear Security Summit working dinner.

On Tuesday, the President will attend the Nuclear Security Summit.  Later in the day, the President will depart Seoul, en route Washington, D.C.  The President will arrive in Washington, due to the changing time zones, on Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.

On Friday, the President will attend campaign events in Burlington, Vermont and Portland, Maine.  He will return to Washington, D.C. that evening.

And that is your week ahead.  Thank you all very much.

1:51 P.M. EDT

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