Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney en route Newton, IA, 5/24/12
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Newton, Iowa
1:18 P.M. CDT
MR. CARNEY: Good morning, everyone. I hope you had a restful sleep last night in San Jose. We are now making our way to Iowa. Before I take your questions, I just want to mention a couple of things.
One, I'd like to announce that on Wednesday, May 30th, the President will sign the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank at the White House. Additional details of the bill signing will be provided when they become available. I would simply note that the President has said that this important step will help American businesses create jobs here at home and sell their products around the world, all at no cost to taxpayers.
Last year marks the highest level of financing in the Bank's 77-year history, as they supported thousands of U.S. companies, hundreds of thousands of jobs, and brought us closer to the goal the President set of doubling our nation's exports by the end of 2014. Over the last several months, the President met with business leaders in Washington, visited workers and companies like Boeing, and urged Congress to reauthorize the Bank to keep building on this progress. We are pleased that Congress was able to get it done.
Q That's May 30th, you said?
MR. CARNEY: May 30th, Wednesday.
Also, as you know, the President is traveling now to TPI Composites in Newton, Iowa, where he will highlight steps that Congress can take right now to create jobs here in America and support American companies and manufacturers, all while continuing to increase clean energy production here at home.
Newton is a city of roughly 16,000 residents located 30 miles -- 35 miles rather, east of Des Moines. For many years, Maytag, the manufacturer of washers and dryers, had its corporate headquarters in Newton, employing 3,500 people at its peak. After being acquired by Whirlpool in 2006, plans were made to consolidate manufacturing into existing facilities and the remaining 1,900 employees in Newton lost their jobs.
But because of the growth in the wind industry, much of it stimulated by the federal Production Tax Credit -- PTC -- TPI Composites, a leading global provider of composite wind blades to major turbine manufacturers, built a plant in Newton in 2008 and today employs more than 700 workers. As you know, Congress has
-- as part of his congressional "To-Do" list called -- rather the President has -- let me back up. As part of his congressional "To-Do" list, the President has called on Congress to pass legislation that would extend the Production Tax Credit.
At my briefing earlier this week -- was that earlier this week -- it was -- with the CEO of Winergy, Terry Royer I think gave a very clear and powerful argument for why this Production Tax Credit needs to be extended, why it is so important to his business and his industry, why it is so vital for American jobs -- manufacturing jobs here, and the fact that it has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support. So that's what the President will be talking about at TPI Composites.
With that, I will take your questions.
Q Jay, there have been a number of developments on the Iranian talks. Can you bring us up to date and what the President's reaction might be so far?
MR. CARNEY: What I can tell you is that I have no specifics to talk about in terms of the Baghdad consultations. It is a positive development that there are another round of talks -- there is another round of talks scheduled for June 18th and 19th in Moscow. There have been concrete ideas exchanged in these negotiations. And the P5-plus-1 are unified in calling for Iran to demonstrate the peaceful intent of its nuclear program and to fully comply with their international obligations.
Q Does the administration feel, though, that a foundation has been laid to perhaps get a breakthrough in Moscow in a few weeks?
MR. CARNEY: Well, look, we made clear even prior to the initial round of negotiations, as well as prior to the one in Baghdad, and I'll make it clear now that we -- these are not -- we are not -- we did not expect in the prior two rounds breakthrough moments. What we're looking for is progress. We're looking for seriousness on the part of the Iranians in terms of addressing the concerns of the international community. And thus far, those expectations have been met.
What I said yesterday remains true, which is, even as we have positive steps, the President’s position is that we will judge Iran by its actions, not by its words or simply by the fact that it’s holding meetings. That’s a positive development, but we need to -- we obviously need to see positive actions. And I talked about this at length yesterday, but that’s still our disposition.
Q Jay, does the White House have any details on what the Iranians are putting on the table in these discussions?
MR. CARNEY: No, I don’t have any details for you on that, and I think this is a process that’s ongoing and we’re not going to read out every meeting in any detail. I would simply say that we’re now scheduled for an additional round of talks. The Iranians know about the concerns of the international community. They have felt the impact of the unprecedented sanctions regime. They are aware of the additional sanctions that will be coming online this summer.
And clearly that provides to them, we believe, an impetus to take these talks very seriously and to then take steps, concrete steps that allay the international community’s concerns about its nuclear ambitions. So that’s where we are at this point.
Q Has the President been in touch with Angela Merkel or any other leaders in Europe this week? Or any sort of sense of how things are going there?
MR. CARNEY: I don’t have at this moment any calls or conversations to read out to you. If I do, I’ll get back to you.
Q Jay, the Brussels meeting ended, though, without really any concrete steps. I mean, does the administration see that as a setback? And I guess do you also feel, as the President said previously, that there was an emerging consensus on the issue?
MR. CARNEY: As the President said, there was a consensus that you all heard about coming out of the G8, about the need to have a balanced approach that included a focus on growing the economy and creating jobs in Europe. And that remains the case. Obviously these are tough issues and the Europeans have a lot of work to do as they wrestle with them. They’ve made some important decisions and taken some important steps, but more work needs to be done.
As I’ve said and the President has said, this is within the capacity of the Europeans to resolve this crisis. Our role is to provide advice born out of our own experience and to -- and that’s what the President did during the G8, and that’s obviously what Secretary Geithner has been doing all along.
Q On Pakistan, there have been two drones in the past couple days. Do those attacks, given the Pakistanis’ objections to these attacks, undermine progress on the trade routes?
MR. CARNEY: I’m not in a position to talk about methods and the like. I can simply say that we -- on the GLOCs, that we’ve been in conversations with and consultations with the Pakistanis on resolving this issue. The Pakistani government has made clear that they want to resolve it; we obviously do as well. And we expect that it will be resolved.
Q Another one on Pakistan. The doctor who aided the CIA on the OBL raid got a 33-year sentence. I was wondering if the administration had any reaction to that sentence, and whether there’s any effort to try to encourage the Pakistanis to shorten the sentence or perhaps dismiss it.
MR. CARNEY: I think Secretaries Panetta and Clinton have made comments about this. I would simply say that our views have not changed and we continue to see no basis for Dr. Afridi to be held. I think it's an important point that any assistance provided by anyone in the effort to bring Osama bin Laden to justice was assistance not against Pakistan, but against al Qaeda and against Osama bin Laden.
And we're obviously -- to answer the last part of your question, we've raised the issue with the Pakistani government. We'll continue to have conversations with them about it.
Q Is the White House aware of reports that Chen Guangcheng's brother escaped from his village last night? And are there any efforts to help the rest of the members of his family that are in China?
MR. CARNEY: I'll have to take that question and check with my colleagues back in Washington.
Q Are you in a position to preview a little bit about the grassroots rally tonight?
MR. CARNEY: I’m sure it will be filled with excitement and energy and enthusiasm. But I don’t have anything else.
Q As much excitement and energy as that answer is? (Laughter.)
MR. CARNEY: I don’t know about you guys, but the altitude yesterday or whatever -- I am in -- and obviously the long day and lack of adequate sleep, but I'm dragging a little bit.
Q Your espresso machine, you're missing it.
MR. CARNEY: I wish I had that thing this morning. The coffee in the hotel did not make the grade.
Q Jay, in the hearing they had yesterday regarding the Secret Service situation, Director Sullivan said, in his view, it's not a systemic issue, it's not systemic to the culture in the Secret Service. I'm wondering if the administration agrees with that, and if the President still has confidence in Director Sullivan, given some of the other cases that have emerged.
MR. CARNEY: The President does have confidence in Director Sullivan. I think the President himself has made clear that the vast majority, the overwhelming majority of men and women who serve their country by working in the Secret Service conduct themselves in the most professional manner, and many of them put their lives on the line to do so. So he has -- I mean, I think that would answer your question.
It is obviously important that the kind of investigation that Director Sullivan undertook take place. And the President believes Director Sullivan has taken this matter -- has demonstrated that he has taken this matter very seriously.
Q One more. Mitt Romney has an ad in which he's critical of the President on China. I wonder if the administration has any reaction to the ad, and whether the President may be vulnerable on China trade.
MR. CARNEY: Despite his tough talk now, Governor Romney wasn't always for enforcing trade laws against China. In his book, Governor Romney attacked the President for standing up for American workers and businesses by enforcing trade law against China, even calling it "bad for the nation and our workers."
Look, I think you guys know -- those of you who have covered this President -- that he has been extremely consistent and firm when it comes to enforcing trade laws. You know the record in terms of the number of cases, the increasing number of cases at the WTO. You know about our efforts to consistently raise with and press the Chinese on the issue of the valuation of their currency. The President's record I think speaks for itself. The fact that Governor Romney is criticizing the President from one side despite having occupied the other side of the issue I suppose is not very surprising.
Q Back on Secret Service. The fact that there's an additional DHS investigation now underway -- does the White House think that investigation is necessary when the Secret Service is already undergoing its own investigation?
MR. CARNEY: I think we feel that the processes that have been undertaken have been the right ones. I don’t have any specific comment on the additional investigation.
Are we good?
Q Thank you.
1:34 P.M. CDT