Press Gaggle by Jay Carney En Route Washington, D.C.
12:52 P.M. EDT
MR. CARNEY: I have a week ahead. Do you want me to read that, or do you want to go to questions --
Q Can you put it at the end?
MR. CARNEY: Let’s put it at the end, okay. As you know, the President will be meeting separately with the Senate Majority Leader and Senate Minority Leader on Monday. He’ll meet with Senator Reid in the morning, Senator McConnell in the early evening.
We believe the talks that were led -- have been led by the Vice President have made significant progress, and we are confident that we can continue to seek common ground and that we will achieve a balanced approach to deficit reduction -- if we continue to seek common ground, rather. And we remain confident that we can get that done.
The President is willing to make tough choices, but he cannot ask the middle class and seniors to bear all the burden for deficit reduction and to sacrifice while millionaires and billionaires and special interests get off the hook -- are let off the hook.
We won’t support an approach that gives millionaires and billionaires $200,000 in tax cuts annually while 33 seniors pay for that with a $6,000 per person increase in their Medicare costs. We just don’t believe that that’s a fair or balanced approach to solving this problem.
And it’s important to be clear about this. That is what is on the table when some folks talk about refusing to consider tax expenditures in the deficit reduction. It’s loopholes for oil and gas companies -- subsidies for oil and gas companies, loopholes for special interests, and sweeping tax cuts for the most fortunate Americans, which are then -- money which is then in part used to pay for -- paid for, rather, by seniors and others who should not be sharing -- should not be bearing the entire burden.
But we believe that we can move forward as long as no one in the talks takes a “my way or the highway” approach.
Q Well, Boehner put out a statement basically saying that. So, I mean, is your position going into the talks --
MR. CARNEY: There are a lot of statements that are put out. Our approach has been, from the beginning, that we believe the American people want us to take a balanced approach. The President has shown himself willing to make tough choices. In his framework, there are $480 billion dollars in savings over 12 years in Medicare and Medicaid. The President has demonstrated his willingness to compromise, to kind of find common ground, and he believes that we’re moving forward, that it is incumbent upon all sides to do what’s right by the American people, to achieve significant deficit reduction, and move our country forward.
Q Is a deal next weekend still possible? A deal next weekend, is that still possible?
MR. CARNEY: I’m not going to give any timing on it.
Q Were the Reid and McConnell meetings scheduled -- just scheduled? Or were they scheduled in advance?
MR. CARNEY: This morning.
Q Okay. And has the President reached out at all to the Speaker, and is there any plan to?
MR. CARNEY: The President hasn’t had any conversations with the Speaker since the Speaker visited the White House the other night. The Vice President has been in regular contact with Republicans and Democrats on the Hill regarding this.
Q Any weekend plans?
MR. CARNEY: None that I know of.
Q Jay, it seems like the irresistible force and the immovable object. I mean, the Republicans say no how, no way we agree to tax raise one dollar. And you just enunciated a policy where there’s no how, no way the President will agree to something that does not, at least as I understand it -- as I understand what you’re saying --
MR. CARNEY: We remain confident that we can continue the progress that we’ve made, and that there’s reason to believe that we’ll be able to find common ground to achieve significant deficit reduction.
Q What’s the reason that you have to believe that?
MR. CARNEY: Because the American people insist that we get it done.
Q Would you guys support a deal that included any continuation of tax cuts for those who make --
MR. CARNEY: I’m not going to negotiate from a few thousand feet above the ground.
Q Can we go back to the Speaker? Why isn’t the President reaching out to him? I mean, he’s the guy who’s saying --
MR. CARNEY: Carol, he spoke with the Speaker recently. We have -- we are in constant contact with leaders of Congress. I just told you that the Vice President of the United States has been in touch with both Republicans and Democrats on the Hill in the last 24 hours, and that continues.
Q But you also -- he also met with Senator McConnell this past week, privately. So why -- I just don’t understand why --
MR. CARNEY: We were in Pennsylvania. So, I’m sorry, what’s your --
Q Well, the President met with Senator McConnell earlier this week.
MR. CARNEY: What’s your question?
Q So why isn’t he meeting -- and you said he’s met with the Speaker this week. Well, he’s met with both of them. Why isn’t the Speaker getting a meeting next week to --
MR. CARNEY: I have no other meetings to announce at this time. I mean --
Q Do you guys have any reaction to the House vote on Libya that happened right before we left?
MR. CARNEY: Yes, we continue to welcome expressions of support for our mission with our NATO allies and others in Libya. We are disappointed by that vote. We think now is not the time to send the kind of mixed message that it sends when we are working with our allies to achieve the goals that we believe that are widely shared in Congress, that -- protecting civilians in Libya, enforcing a no-fly zone, enforcing an arms embargo and further putting pressure on Qaddafi. And the writing is on the wall for Colonel Qaddafi, and now is not the time to let up.
Q So that means that the U.S. continues with the mission even if you don’t get any of those votes of support?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I mean, this was one vote.
Q Can we -- really quick on the debt talk. Is the President going to give a statement on this -- on this situation?
MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any --
Q He’s not going to talk about it publicly at all?
MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any plans for that to --
Q Is it fair to say that we’re getting closer to a short-term extension of the debt ceiling? I mean, is that something --
MR. CARNEY: I’m not going to negotiate any particulars about it. I think it is important, since you raise the debt ceiling, to remember that it is extremely dangerous to play chicken with the full faith and credit of the United States government. We remain very confident that Congress will act responsibly and maintain the full faith and credit of the United States government by raising the debt ceiling.
And I remind you that this is not a vote -- raising the debt ceiling is not a vote for spending. It is a vote to meet our obligations and pay our bills.
Q Can you do the week ahead?
Q Week ahead?
MR. CARNEY: Week ahead. On Monday, the President -- well, I’ve said this -- the President and the Vice President will hold meetings at the White House with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss the status of the negotiations to find common ground on a balanced approach to the deficit reduction. The meeting with the Majority Leader will take place in the morning, and the meeting with the Minority Leader will take place in the early evening.
Also on Monday, the President will welcome Major League Soccer champions the Colorado Rapids to the White House to honor their 2010 season and their MLS Cup victory. In connection with the ceremony with the President at the White House, the Colorado Rapids will hold a soccer clinic for children of military families on the South Lawn.
On Tuesday, the President will visit Alcoa Davenport Works Factory in Bettendorf, Iowa, to tour the facility and discuss the critical role that the manufacturing sector plays in the American economy.
On Wednesday, the President will welcome the WNBA Champion Seattle Storm to the White House to honor the team’s 2010 championship season. In conjunction with this event, members of the team will hold a basketball clinic with local area youth during their visit.
Later, the President and the First Lady will hold a reception to observe LGBT Pride Month. In the evening, the President and the First Lady will host a farewell dinner for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the White House.
On Thursday, the President will attend a farewell ceremony for Secretary of Defense Gates at the Pentagon. Later, the President will travel -- this is on Thursday -- to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia, the President will attend two DNC events.
On Friday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.
And that is your week ahead.
Q Thursday was the Gates farewell and the events are in Philadelphia?
MR. CARNEY: Yes, the DNC events are in Philadelphia. Farewell ceremony for Secretary Gates at the Pentagon, and then later the President will travel to Philly.
Q Thank you.
MR. CARNEY: All right. Thanks, guys.
END 1:00 P.M. EDT