Lessons From and Responsibility For the Debt Mess: Today’s Qs for O’s WH – 8/2/2011

Aug 2, 2011 3:04pm

TAPPER: I couldn't help but notice the president's tone in his remarks.  He seemed a little disgusted with Washington, D.C., and — no, you don't think that's fair?

CARNEY:  I think that the American people rightfully were appalled by some of what they saw, the willingness to even hint at the possibility of allowing the United States to default for the first time in its history in order to advance, you know, specific agenda items that had already been rejected by a majority in Congress and certainly a majority in the American public. 

Now, the fact is that in the end, as we calmly predicted would be the case, cooler heads prevailed, and compromise was achieved.

The frustration that we all have is that it shouldn't take something this dramatic to force that kind of compromise, because in the end everyone is here for the same reason, which is to make Washington work in a way that is good for the country and good for the American people.

TAPPER:  OK, I revise my remarks to "frustrated" instead of "disgusted."

CARNEY:  Well, I'm not sure that I — that I — go ahead and ask your question.

TAPPER:  You don't take issue with "disgusted"?

CARNEY:  (Chuckles.)  No, I do.  I do.  I think we've expressed our frustration with this process — he has and others have — on numerous occasions.

TAPPER:  Anyway, my question:  Is the president — has he learned any lessons from this experience that will help him deal with this Congress, perhaps, any better?  And does he accept any responsibility for the, quote-unquote, "circus" that we've seen in the last month?

CARNEY:  Jake, I think this president, from very early on in this process, made abundantly clear his willingness to compromise, his willingness to accept the fact that he would not — in this environment, in this divided government — get everything that he wanted; that whatever the end product would be would not be the ideal legislation that he as president would have written, or the Democrats would have written in the Congress.  And I — so I certainly don't think — and I think that this view is shared by a majority of the American people — don't think that he was unyielding or unwilling to compromise.  Now –

TAPPER:  The last poll I showed — I saw, showed that a majority of Americans thought the president needed to compromise more.  But they also, more, thought that Republicans needed to compromise more.

CARNEY:  Well, I think that reflects a general view of his approach and why people thought that he was certainly more willing and demonstrated his willingness to compromise.  So I mean, beyond that, we'll — there's a lot of time for action — after-action reports on — and evaluations on this process.

You know, we, through every stage — including the talks led by the vice president, including the negotiations conducted by the president with the speaker of the House — approached them in good faith, you know, with a willingness to compromise.  And we think that that good faith and willingness helped in the end allow for everyone to come together and achieve, you know, a result that, while not ideal, did avert a crisis and did allow us to make a significant down payment on the need to reduce the deficit.

TAPPER:  So no responsibility and no lessons yet?

CARNEY:  You can characterize it however you want, but I answered the question.

-Jake Tapper

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