TAPPER: Jay, well, just to follow on that — to offer come clarity here: Is the Haqqani Network “a veritable arm” of the ISI? Yes or no?
CARNEY: Well, I — it’s not language I would use. I think that the fact that there are links between — that exist between the Pakistani government and the Haqqani Network — the nature of those, I think, is — can be assessed and is complicated. But there is no question that they have safe havens in Pakistan — the Network has safe havens in Pakistan — and that Pakistan has not taken action to eliminate those safe havens.
TAPPER: So it’s not the position of the Obama administration that the Haqqani Network is a veritable arm of the ISI?
CARNEY: It is the position of the administration that there are links and that Pakistan needs to take action to address that.
TAPPER: But not –
CARNEY: And to deal with the fact that there are safe havens for this criminal network that is dangerous for Pakistan as well as for the United States and Afghanistan.
TAPPER: Right, but Admiral Mullen went farther than that, that’s — as far as –
CARNEY: I think it’s a matter — a matter of semantics. And I think that the — Admiral Mullen was talking –
CARNEY: I mean, it’s a matter — you’re trying to — on the language here. I think I’m being quite clear about what our position is, which — and it’s a serious one. It’s one that we raise with our Pakistani counterparts regularly because it is of such great concern
We have said unequivocally that the Haqqani Network was responsible for the recent attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul and on ISAF headquarters in Kabul. So — and the fact that they are able to operate in Afghanistan because they have a safe haven in Pakistan is a matter of great concern. And we have urged our counterparts in Pakistan to take action and raise with them the importance of doing so.
TAPPER: Respectfully, it’s not a matter of semantics. It’s quite a different thing to say that there –
CARNEY: I’ve made –
TAPPER: — that there are links and there — one is a veritable arm. I mean, it is — it is a bit different. But we can move on.
TAPPER: You said earlier that nothing in the jobs bill is controversial. I assume you’re talking about — you’re not talking about the funding for the jobs bill, because obviously the tax increases are controversial.
CARNEY: Well, they are obviously opposed by some who don’t believe that we need to make the kinds of choices that are inherent in the bill, which is that — for example, oil and gas companies that have enjoyed, you know, enormous subsidies paid for by the American taxpayer, that are no longer necessary in our view, not least because that very industry is making record profits this year.
And again, you don’t make these choices in a vacuum. We don’t have unlimited resources. So we either — we have to make a decision. Is that subsidy to the — to that industry more important, a better use of American taxpayer dollars than putting teachers back to work or giving an extended payroll tax cut to American workers, giving a payroll tax cut to small businesses? These are the kind of choices that have to be made.
Now, I think, as we’ve said all along, if there are better – if Congress comes up with alternative means in part or in whole to pay for these important provisions, we’ll certainly want to look at them as long as they’re fair and balanced; they don’t, you know, put more onerous burdens on the middle class in order to take action to help the middle class. We think that the balance achieved in this bill reflects the priorities of the middle class and are — were designed to give the maximum positive impact to the economy.
TAPPER: So you — the tax increases are not controversial is what you asserting?
CARNEY: I don’t think they’re controversial in our view in terms of the choices that they represent. And I think that the data certainly suggests to me that a majority of Americans believe that this is an appropriate approach, a fair approach, and they support it.
Again if Congress has other ideas about how to fund these important measures, we certainly want to see those and — but our standard here is that it has to be fair. It shouldn’t — as we have seen in other attempts at dealing with other issues through Congress, that it can’t be, you know, we’re going to pay for this by eliminating Medicare as we know it or we’re going to pay for this by slashing education funding by 30 percent. I mean, those are not the priorities that, I think, the middle class in this country support, and certainly not this president.
TAPPER: And lastly, I read something in the gaggle yesterday, you criticized the — or it might have been two days ago — you criticized the Republican presidential candidates, I believe, for — there were — there was a smattering of boos and a smattering of applause at inappropriate times during the previous Republican debates, and you were suggesting that the fact that they didn’t protest means that they couldn’t be a commander in chief — or could you explain what you meant?
CARNEY: No, I certainly didn’t say that. I think — I think I said that what — that I was surprised, I think many people were surprised that, in an instance where a soldier serving in Iraq asks a question from Iraq — so he is over there in harm’s way, risking his life on behalf of every one of us — and he asks a legitimate question about — (chuckles) — “don’t ask, don’t tell” and what these candidates might do, because it personally affects him, and there were boos in the audience. Putting aside the audience — it’s not about the audience — it’s about, you know, the fact that there was no response, no one on stage said, wait a second; regardless of what you believe about this issue, we should thank this soldier; he’s over there risking his life for us. And that’s — that was my point.
And I think that it’s an — it’s an important thing to note when the job that they are auditioning for is the job of commander in chief.
TAPPER: So –
CARNEY: I didn’t suggest it was disqualifying; I was simply making an observational point.
TAPPER: Just to continue our conversation from a few weeks ago when you said that the president, who had not heard remarks by Jimmy Hoffa Jr., was not responsible for them, you are saying that the Republican presidential candidates are responsible for boos?
CARNEY: No, no, no. I didn’t say that at all. I was surprised that they did not — that none — not one of them reacted. I’m not saying they’re responsible to it — for it. I’m just making — as an observer, that –
TAPPER: Just an impartial observer?
CARNEY: (Chuckles.) I didn’t say I was impartial. I am simply making the point that there was an opportunity there to separate an issue that may be controversial — although we firmly believe that it shouldn’t be and isn’t and that’s why we eliminated “don’t ask, don’t tell” — from the fact that this soldier is serving his country and putting his life in danger for all of us. And that was all. It wasn’t an — it was an observation; it wasn’t — I wasn’t criticizing the audience members. I was making a point about the absence of a reaction from the candidates.