TAPPER: In New Hampshire, just a few minutes ago, the former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, announcing his presidential campaign, said, quote, "Barack Obama has failed America." Romney said that there was a recession already in place when President Obama took office, but he made the recession last longer. Your thoughts?
CARNEY: Well, there will be a time and a place for the president to engage in 2012 election politics, and my guess is, that'll be 2012.
But I will say that when this president took office, we were in the deepest recession since the Great Depression. The president inherited the largest deficit in the history of the country from an administration that had, when it came into power eight years previous, inherited budget surpluses from a Democratic president.
The recession got worse before it got better. When this president took office, we were hemorrhaging jobs at a rate of 600(,000) to 700,000 a month. The circumstances were unprecedented,
save the Great Depression, as you well know. All of you covered it. There were moments in the first few months when this president took office, long before anything he could do, any action he could take could take force, where people were talking about unemployment rates of 25 or 30 percent, you know, bank holidays or nationalization of the banks. The situation was severe. The crisis was profound.
The president took dramatic action, including unpopular decisions like bailing out the auto industry, the American auto industry, because he felt it was the right thing to do. He felt that the
million jobs associated with the auto industry were worth saving if we could extract from those companies measures that would ensure that they — or give them a better chance of succeeding. As Ron Bloom said yesterday from this podium, there's ample evidence to suggest that that decision was the right one.
We have now experienced 14 straight months of private sector job creation, 2.1 million jobs created. Again, he's taking office with an inheritance of a Great Recession and 600(,000), 700,000 jobs lost per month; in the last 14 months, 2.1 million created; seven quarters of economic growth.
Having said that, we are a long way from home. As the president makes clear every time he talks about the economy, there is work to be done.
Unemployment remains unacceptably high.
That is why he took measures like he did just in the last six months — extending the middle-class tax cut; ensuring in the negotiations on that tax cut, with the Republicans, that we get a payroll tax cut holiday for working Americans so that if you're making $50,000 a year right now, you're getting a thousand dollars extra because of that tax cut that the president insisted on; the American opportunity tax credit to ensure that Americans — American children can go to college or help them go to college; the child care tax credit extension to help families with children, who — when parents are working.
Going forward he is, as you know, pushing free trade agreements that will — three of them — which will produce 70,000 jobs – create or support 70,000 jobs in America. Pushing for an R&D tax credit for things like clean energy investment, to make that permanent so that we can invest in industries that will create jobs and remain in America and will drive competition in the 21st century.
There is no issue that matters more to this president than the economic health of this country and the job security and job creation in this country, and job security of Americans and job creation in this country, so he's focused on this very directly.
TAPPER In the meeting yesterday with House Republicans, a number of the House Republicans said to the president that they wanted him to introduce a budget that was score-able — that CBO could actually assess — instead of what he introduced, the broad outlines and the April speech at GW, and the president seemed to indicate he was not going to do that. You — I think you said from the podium that he wanted something score-able that was part of a compromise, not his own separate budget proposal. Why not? If the Republicans in the House are saying it would help the negotiating process to have a score-able –
CARNEY: Well, we heard two things — we heard two things from the Republicans yesterday: one from the speaker that we need to get these negotiations wrapped up and finished in the next few weeks, and that the president should put forward a new plan, a new proposal, that should make its way through Congress and be scored. I don't think those are compatible.
Everyone knows what the president's position is, what his plan is, the parameters of his plan. It's quite clear. The Democrats are aware of it. Republicans are aware of it. The president's spoken about it at length.
And that is what the vice president brought to the table for these negotiations. We are at a point now where we don't need new plans. We need to find common ground around the shared goal of significant deficit reduction and come together, hold hands, and agree that we're going to get this done and find as much common ground as we can in what the president believes needs to be a balanced approach towards deficit reduction — because as I said earlier, it is not a goal unto itself.
And it should not be done in a way that harms economic growth, which is a serious concern. And that's why the president's so committed to maintaining investments in education and infrastructure and in innovation, areas like clean energy that are the drivers — will be the drivers and are the drivers of economic growth going forward.
-Jake Tapper (@jaketapper)