ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:
MILLER: “Going back to the letter that President Obama sent to the leaders on the Hill on the need to eliminate oil subsidies, he said "immediate action," and you've repeated that from the podium. Can you define that in any more clear terms as far as a deadline? You mentioned legislation, but does this have a role in the conversation going forward on deficits and debt?
CARNEY: Well, it certainly — look, "immediate action" means what it says, which is when Congress comes back, let's take action legislatively to eliminate those subsidies. It is also part of the larger discussion. It is part of the president's budget proposals. It is part of any, we think, balanced approach towards reducing our deficits and getting our spending and revenues in line in a way that puts our fiscal house in order, reduces our long-term debt; allows for the investments that we need in education, research and development, energy technology to be economically competitive and dominant in the 21st century. I mean, that is part of the bigger discussion, but with the current environment and the fact that the speaker of the House, leader of the Republicans in the Congress, expressed an openness to addressing this issue last night, we — the president wrote a letter to say, okay, let's do it; let's do it immediately.
MILLER: Is that something that the White House had heard from the speaker or anyone on his staff before? Because they seem to be walking a little bit back on what he said to ABC yesterday.
CARNEY: Well, and I — not that I'm aware of, but he obviously said it on television last night. He also expressed a sentiment that we think is very important, where he said that we have a revenue shortage. The federal government has a revenue shortage, which is — a revenue problem, rather, which is I think a recognition of what the president has been saying that – and others, Democrats and some Republicans, that when we approach this long-term deficit and debt problem and we look at fiscal reform, everything has to be on the table. That's entitlement spending, spending through the tax code, defense spending and obviously interest on the debt.
MILLER: One more on gas prices. The president has acknowledged this himself last week at a fund-raiser in Los Angeles. We're wondering if you can respond to the new ABC News/Washington Post poll that says that 53 percent of those who are feeling serious hardship from the resulting the gas prices say they definitely will not vote for President Obama in 2012.
CARNEY: We're not — we don't look at this as an issue of electoral politics in 18 months. We look at this as an issue of hardship for average Americans today. I don't think when — you know, somebody sticks the credit card in the pump or pays the cashier the cash for the — for the tank of gas that they're thinking about an election in 2012. They're thinking about the hardship it causes them, the pinch it places on their family budgets. And so we're very concerned about that now. We're very concerned about it within the context of the need for a long-term energy policy, and we're concerned about it in the context of, you know, the need to continue to lift up Americans as we recover from — working Americans and middle-class Americans as we recover from this historic recession. So this is a — you don't have to introduce electoral politics into it to make it a matter of great concern, because we are concerned about it here today.”