Raising Taxes, Withdrawing Troops, Apologizing to Paul Monti, and Calling A Budget ‘Immoral’: Today’s Q’s for O’s WH – 6/27/2011

Jun 27, 2011 3:44pm

TAPPER: What taxes does the president want to see increased?  You have the oil and gas subsidies being eliminated, the itemized deduction for – a lower itemized deduction for wealthier  Americans.  What else? Because that's not even $50 billion, right?

CARNEY:  Well, look, there are a variety of things that we've talked about that are on the table that have to do with subsidies and loopholes.  There's corporate jets; there's oil and gas subsidies; there is itemization for millionaires and billionaires.

There is the way that businesses – that depreciate or inventory – or rather, account for the inventory in their – on their tax treatment that will help simplify the tax code and bring it in line so that -

so that tax treatment is the same as – either the way the – I mean, this is a very complicated issue you probably read about.

But there – but there are a variety of measures that have to do with simplifying the tax code and ending unnecessary, unjustifiable loopholes and subsidies that simply – as the – as – the oil and gas subsidy is a perfect example of this – that in this time for the oil and gas industry when they've had record profits doesn't make any sense, I think, to almost any American – and then others where we have to say, look, in an ideal world, maybe this break for that segment of the economy or this, you know, might make sense.  I'm sure there are people who would argue for them.  But now's a time to make these tough choices.  And that's why we have to have a balanced approach so that no sector of society – not the middle class, not seniors, not any, you know, one segment of the business community – has to bear any disproportionate burden.  We all have to come at this in a – in a balanced way.

TAPPER:  I'm sorry if I missed this – if this was asked last week, I missed it because I was off.  But in terms of Afghanistan, what do you say to those strategists, those in the military, who say that the Taliban have now less of an incentive to reconcile – and again, I apologize for this, perhaps – but less of an incentive to reconcile with this due date of the surge troops being pulled out by next summer?

CARNEY:  Well, we have made clear that – and the president believes very firmly that – and that it is important to send a signal that we are transferring gradually security lead over to Afghan national security forces – forces that we have endeavored to train up and to build up for this purpose.

 And it is – it is part of this process – and it's a balanced process – is building up the Afghan security forces and increasing the amount of responsibility they take on, because ultimately they will have to be responsible for the security of their nation.  As per Lisbon, the – and the NATO agreement, that will be by the end of 2014.

So the president's decision was a very focused one based on his own keen knowledge of this issue area, as you know.  He's doing it in – aggressively enough that that transfer takes hold, but not in any precipitous way.  And that's why we'll have 10,000 U.S. troops out by the end of the year and an additional – and an additional 23,000 by next summer.  And we think that's absolutely the right approach.

TAPPER:  So you don't think that will discourage Taliban –

CARNEY:  Look, I think that it's important – ultimately, one could argue in any of these circumstances – and this is true in Iraq or any of the places where you can have a conflict like this – that what is the end point of that argument?  The Taliban or whomever could wait you – wait for a hundred years. 

But the U.S. is not going to be in Afghanistan for a hundred years.  We have a strategy that we are implementing.  The president, because he saw the need to go aggressively after al-Qaeda, did have the surge in forces.  That has been very successful.  We've met a lot of objectives in — as we've pursued that policy.  And we're beginning, as planned, as promised, the drawdown of U.S. forces next month in a – in a sensible way, working with our military commanders. We believe that that will give Afghanistan the best chance of success as it begins to take on more responsibility for its own security.

TAPPER: And lastly, on Friday, Paul Monti, the father of posthumous Medal of Honor award — awardee Jared Monti, Sergeant First Class Jared Monti, wrote on his Facebook page that the president had called him and apologized for the mess-up at Fort Drum, and he accepted the apology.  Is there anything more you can tell us about that call?

CARNEY:  No, except that he obviously, when he realized his mistake, wanted to call right away; understands that — you know, that that was important to do.


CHIP REID, CBS NEWS: This weekend when the vice president was laying out all the things that you have to do and how much of – when he said that those who are – you'd have to ask those who are struggling in this economy to bear the burden and let the most fortunate among us off the hook, he said that “borders on being immoral.” Does the president agree with that?

CARNEY:  Well, I think he does, yes.

REID:  Has he used that language, that strong, in his meetings with Boehner and -

CARNEY:  I think – I think it would be immoral to – I mean, I haven't heard him use that language in – with leaders, but I'm not saying he hasn't.  I'm just saying that it is – these are choices about priorities.  And when we're talking about adding burdens to people for whom the burdens are hard to bear, that becomes a moral choice, yes.

TAPPER:  So, Jay, you're saying that Paul Ryan's budget, according to President Obama – that the Paul Ryan budget is immoral?

CARNEY:  I didn't – You can – what I'm saying is that the budgets are about our priorities and that those priorities are not what we think are the right ones to elevate when we have to make some tough choices, and that you can do this in a way that doesn't put undue burden on seniors or the middle class or parents of disabled children, that spreads the burden, that takes cuts in discretionary programs, defense, entitlements, tax code, in a way that's more fair.

Now, I mean, again, this is a quote that Chip read to me.  To us, priorities of course are about morals.  We're not – but the issue here is, can we find common ground?  Can we come together, move off of our starting positions, be willing to compromise and do what the American people are dying for us to do, which is significantly reduce the deficit in a way that enhances the chances for growth and job creation and doesn't hurt them?  I think that's the bottom line.

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