TAPPER: GE, in 2010, made more than $14 billion in profits, 5 billion of those here in the U.S., and yet GE paid no taxes last year. Given that the CEO of GE is the head of the president's competitiveness and jobs council, I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on their paying no taxes last year, as opposed to probably every single person in this room.
CARNEY: I hope so. But the — look, I — Jake, I'll just tell you, I don't know about this specific company's balance sheet or its tax returns.
TAPPER: Front page of The New York Times.
CARNEY: But I — but I can — I've read the story. I'm saying I don't have my own assessment to make of it.
But what I will tell you is that the president has said that he is committed to corporate tax reform, and he wants to do that because it will improve our competitiveness. And he believes that one of the ways to do that — the way to do it is to — you can lower the rate if you and still bring in the necessary revenue if you remove a lot of the loopholes and other aspects of it that make it complicated, that give companies fits and also make us less competitive in the process. So he's committed to corporate tax reform because it's right for growth, it's right for job creation. And, you know, he will have that conversation going forward.
TAPPER: Does it bother him?
CARNEY: I haven't spoken to the president about this, but he is bothered by what I think you're getting at, which is that Americans, I'm sure, who read that story or heard about it are wondering, you know — you know, how this could be.
And one of the reasons why it could be — again, not addressing a specific company, because I don't know independently about that, but it is part of the problem of the corporate tax structure that
companies hire, you know, armies of tax lawyers to understand how it works and to take advantage of the various loopholes that exist, that are legal, in order to reduce their tax burden. And he thinks that in the name — for the purpose of greater competitiveness and job creation, we have to address our corporate tax structure.
TAPPER: Well, if in the name of competitiveness and job creation the president feels we have to address our corporate tax structure, why appoint to the head of the competitiveness and jobs council a person who is now the poster child for using the system to get out of paying taxes?
CARNEY: The job council and competitiveness council is designed for just that. And he has brought together a lot of voices on that, and he wants to hear the opinions of every member of that
council. And we have said, with regard to questions about other members who've been appointed, that the president obviously doesn't want a council of people who agree with him on every issue, he wants to hear diversity of opinion. In the end, the decisions that are made about which policy to pursue on corporate tax reform will be the president's decision and his policy. So I don't — I think that addresses the question.
TAPPER: But is there a perception problem at all for the president? He says he wants to take on this issue, and yet –
CARNEY: He very much wants to take on this issue.
TAPPER: It's the second year in a row, I believe, that GE didn't pay any taxes, and yet he appoints the CEO to the head of his competitiveness and jobs council is -
CARNEY: I think the issue, Jake, is –
TAPPER: — that the American people –
CARNEY: No, because the president is very committed to addressing this issue.
TAPPER: So much so that he puts the CEO of GE at the head of the Jobs and Competitiveness Council?
CARNEY: Look, I think, you know, Jake, we can do this five or six times, but he is committed to corporate tax reform. He believes that — one of the reasons why he addressed it before this
story came out or story — you know, is because this is not an unusual situation, that the tax code is complex, it's filled with loopholes and other pieces of it that make it possible for corporations to
reduce their tax burden. And it's not good for the companies in terms of their competitiveness and potential for growth. And it's obviously not good overall for job creation in the United States. So that's why he wants to address it.