The President’s Position on the Gang of 6 Plan and Why the White House Is Optimistic: Today’s Qs for O’s WH – 7/20/2011

Jul 20, 2011 1:57pm

gty barack obama approval ll 110719 wb The Presidents Position on the Gang of 6 Plan and Why the White House Is Optimistic: Todays Qs for Os WH   7/20/2011

TAPPER:  Does the White House have a position — have you had a chance to review the Gang of Six plan beyond the general support for principle — its principles that the president discussed yesterday?

CARNEY:  Well, what I would say is that — again, as I said yesterday, it represents significant broad support along the lines of the approach the president took.  There are — as we look at the provisions within it, and as you know, the — there was some level of detail provided, and more coming.  You know, it's possible we may not agree with every aspect of their approach, but the issue here isn't which piece of paper will be the final piece of legislation because that — you know, that's going to be up — if the decision is made that we're going to take a bipartisan approach, that we're going to take a balanced approach, the framework that the president put forward, that the Gang of Six has now put forward, that Simpson and Bowles commission has put forward and others — you know, are all available to create a process that produces a piece of legislation that we believe a majority in Congress would support, and certainly the American people would support and the president would sign, the details of that, obviously, would have to be worked out. 

But the frame here — savings out of the tax code, savings out of — from entitlement reform, significantly reduced nondefense discretionary spending, reduced defense spending that's done in a way

that protects our national security — this is the way to go about it. And that's how you get to the 3.5 trillion (dollars) and above savings over 10 years that we've talked about and that the Gang of Six is talking about.

So as long as there's political will, the details — there's enough substance out there now for a package to be crafted.

And I think — I would note that one of the things that either Speaker Boehner or his spokesperson said last night was that there was some similarity between what the Gang of Six had put forward and what the president and the speaker had been talking about when they were looking at the possibility of achieving a grand bargain.  So, again, that's the — that's the — you know, we agree with that assessment. And if the will is there, we can get down to negotiating the details.

TAPPER:  So you don't have — so there's no change?

CARNEY:  I don't have the specific provision of the Gang of Six's proposal to declare from here that we accept or reject.  The overall approach we definitely accept.  And as you know, others, including the speaker of the House and the president of the United States, have been having discussions about what a grand bargain would look like concretely.  So there is a framework, with details, that has — that has already been worked on, that this is — this helps propel the — you know, or create momentum behind the possibility that we could actually move in that direction.  It may be —

TAPPER:  If this were to become legislation, would the president sign it?

CARNEY:  Well, again, I'm not going to make a declaration about the specifics of what the Gang of Six has put forward, in part because all the details aren't even known yet.  I think — you know, there's — this is not a — this is not a piece of legislation; it's not even written as a bill.  So that, you know, we would not issue a statement of administration policy or make a declaration about whether the president would sign it based on an outline.

What he does wholly support is the approach that they've taken, because he believes it's the right approach; it's the approach that overwhelmingly we've seen now the American people support.  Americans who are both Democrats and Republicans, and Americans who are independents — they all support this kind of approach.  So we find that very encouraging.

TAPPER:  What reason do you have, does the president have, to be optimistic that the House Republicans, or the House of Representatives in general, can muster a majority vote for anything other than the "cut, cap and balance" bill?

CARNEY:  The reason to be optimistic is that the members of the House of Representatives were elected by the American people, by the — by their constituents in their districts.  And if they listen not just to the loudest voices, especially those in special interest groups who argue that they should or shouldn't do one thing, but take into account the views of all of their constituents, we believe that a majority in both houses would support a balanced approach. 

And in the end, listening to the voices of the people who elected you, who sent you to Washington, is really what you're supposed to do and what this all about.  And we believe that there are some signs that — certainly many signs of a growing willingness to consider this approach among Democrats and Republicans.  And that's a positive thing. 

So, you know, we obviously understand that the political dynamics in the Congress are pretty complicated.  And we're a step removed from it, but keen observers of it.  But we continue to make the case and work with the leaders of Congress and other willing participants among the rank and file — that this is the approach that will best serve the American people, will best serve the economy and will best serve the political interests of everyone, because doing the right thing in this case is good politics. 

TAPPER:  So just –

CARNEY:  So we —

TAPPER: So “faith in humanity” is your answer?  (Laughter.)

CARNEY:  Well, like I said, we're keen observers of the dynamic up there, and we think there is reason to be optimistic that something like this could be achieved.  Obviously it takes a lot of work and willpower.   

TAPPER:  Keen observers of what?  Are you watching –

CARNEY:  The political dynamic in the Congress.  So —

TAPPER:  What specifically is the political dynamic that you're observing that gives you faith that they're going to support anything that has tax increases in it?

CARNEY:  We have — we believe there has been significant — as more and more attention has been paid to this issue, there has been a significant amount of acceptances, broadly, by Democrats, independents and Republicans, including elected officials, that a balanced approach that requires compromise on all sides is the right way to go.

Now, we continue to push for the biggest deal possible, and that would include a balanced approach.  We are also pragmatic and realistic and committed to the notion that we absolutely must take action before August 2nd in order to not create a situation where the United States could default on its obligations.  Therefore, we are pursuing, as well — even as we pursue the bigger prize, we are working with Congress to ensure that there is a mechanism by which we simply raise the debt ceiling or raise the debt ceiling and do something much smaller than the grand bargain.

But I mean, I think it's important to note that the members of the Gang of Six represent in many ways, you know, progressive Democrats and very conservative Republicans.  It is —

TAPPER:  I'm not talking about the Senate.

CARNEY:  I know you're not, but these are not distinct — this is not a distinct species even of — within the political categories that we're talking about, you know, and we have a little faith in the capacity of our elected leaders in Congress to hear what the American people are telling them, hear what their colleagues are telling them and hopefully create majorities within both houses to do the right thing.

TAPPER:  Thanks.

-Jake Tapper

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