The ‘Family Penalty’ in the Health Care Law and Jobs Bill Debate – Today’s Q’s for O’s WH – 10/27/2011

Oct 27, 2011 2:22pm

TAPPER: The American Academy of Pediatrics wrote a letter expressing concerns about what they call the family penalty provision of the health care law, the provision that excludes families with children from subsidized exchange coverage even when they lack affordable employer-based coverage. I’m wondering, is the White House reviewing this part of the health care law, looking into ways to fix it or tweak it?

CARNEY: Jake, I confess that I don’t have an answer to you. I’ve heard vaguely about this, but I haven’t — I haven’t looked into it. Maybe HHS can help you more, but I just don’t have a response.

TAPPER: OK. Speaker Boehner gave an interview earlier today to Laura Ingraham in which he expressed — I’ll just quote him. He said, “The idea that you’re just going to go around Congress is almost laughable. We’re keeping a very close eye on the administration to make sure they’re following the law and following the Constitutions. I’ve got great concerns that he may be violating parameters in terms of the executive actions that the president is taking, and our committees of jurisdiction are looking at his proposals to make sure the president isn’t exceeding his authority.” Do you have any response to the speaker’s concerns?

CARNEY: Well, first of all, the president is operating well within the bounds of his authority and in a way that is consistent with the kinds of executive actions that presidents have taken in previous administrations, presidents of both parties.

I would respectfully suggest to the speaker that perhaps they — he should and the House should focus on what the American people are insisting that Washington in general focus on, which is the need to grow the economy and create jobs. I think yesterday the House, amidst the demand that action be taken on jobs and the economy, you know, bravely went forward and passed legislation or passed a bill that would issue commemorative coins for Baseball Hall of Fame.

It passed overwhelmingly. And now I think they’re pretty much done for week in a couple of hours.

The president has put forward a jobs plan filled with measures that have enjoyed bipartisan support in the past, paid for in a way that is supported broadly by the American people, by Democrats, independents and Republicans, everywhere except in Congress. He’s, I think — believes Congress should act on that, because, with regards to the executive actions, we’ve made it clear, as I know you know, that we do not believe for a moment that they are a substitute for legislative action.

What they represent is the president’s absolute commitment to doing everything he can, within his authority, to assist the American people as they deal with this difficult economy — whether it’s students, helping them consolidate and reduce their debt burden; helping homeowners who are struggling and underwater with their mortgages but paying their bills, helping them refinance their loans so they can take advantage of these historically low loan rates — mortgage rates. You know, he’ll do everything he can.

And you will hear from him and see him continue to take up that cause through executive actions, even as he says to Congress: Pass this bill. Pass the elements of this bill. Do things that grow the economy and create jobs.

TAPPER: You could say that there are two things. One, the majority in the House of Representatives — they say they have passed anywhere between 15 and 20 bills that would have a positive impact on job growth and the bills have not been taken up by the Senate.

CARNEY: Well –

TAPPER: Do you oppose — I mean, I understand that you oppose the ones that deregulate and some of the others. But do you oppose every single one of them or –

CARNEY: Well, I don’t know every — I haven’t looked at all 15, but what I can tell you is the ones — the actions that the Congress has taken that help economic growth and job creation — like the free trade agreements, like patent reform — are things that the president agrees with and has signed into law, or signed — you know, put his signature to, in terms of the free trade agreements.

And I believe the House did today pass a provision — the so-called 3 percent withholding for government contractors provision –today, that this president supported. And in fact, it was part of the recovery act. It is — it is removing from law — if it gets through the entire Congress, it would remove from law a provision that was passed under the previous administration and voted for by Republicans, including the speaker of the House and the majority leader. The president’s been for this repeal, and would certainly look forward to signing that. So he is working cooperatively with Republicans on the things that they agree on.

I would simply — rather than take my assessment of what their jobs proposals are, just look at what independent economists say about their plans. And there’s just — there’s no one out there who will say that — they may say that there are good policy ideas in those proposals, policy ideas for the medium and long term, but there are no ideas — or very few ideas that have any measurable positive impact in the near term on economic growth and job creation. That’s not just me saying it, that’s not a partisan position, that’s outside economic analysts; because it’s the kind of proposals they put forward. They did — they don’t deal with the need right now, which is, you know, boosting aggregate demand, to use economist lingo, to get the economy growing and to get people back to work.

The president’s plan does that. The president also has a plan which deals with medium- and long-term deficit and debt reduction, and laying a foundation for future economic growth. You’ve got to do all of it; you’ve got to do it all.

TAPPER: But, I mean, your bill keeps coming up and — first in the whole, and now in different bite-sized chunks, as the president put it — and it keeps failing.

CARNEY: Well, it keeps being blocked in unison by Republicans. In — and here’s the thing.

TAPPER: And some Democrats.

CARNEY: No.

TAPPER: Democrats aren’t voting to block it?

CARNEY: What — to 97 percent of Democrats have voted for the American –

TAPPER: It was a bipartisan vote to block it.

CARNEY: Well, that is what the Republicans say; there’s no question. But when 100 percent –

TAPPER: Those are the facts. It was a bipartisan vote to block it.

CARNEY: Well, no, but listen. I allow that 2 to 5 percent of Democrats have voted against this, whereas 95 to 95 – 97 percent have voted for the jobs bill in its entirety and the single provision that’s been voted on so far, and a hundred percent, in lock step, of Republicans have voted to block it.

The fact is, if we didn’t have the Senate rules that pertain now, where everything, even if it’s naming a post office, practically, needs a filibuster-proof majority, we would only need 50 or 51 to turn these things that are broadly supported by the American people into law. But they’re blocked by the Republicans — blocked based on a principle in the Senate that was established by the Senate Republican leader quite a long time ago, quite explicitly, quite publicly that his number one priority as the Republican leader in the Senate, in the United States Congress, was not to create jobs, not to assist the American people, not to grow the economy, but to do everything he could to ensure that Barack Obama was no re-elected. That doesn’t seem to be the agenda that the American people support.

And I would just point out that when you see this 100 percent Republican opposition, it’s totally disconnected from Republicans out in the country. It’s not just Democrats out there and the president, it — look, you’ve seen the data, probably ABC’s own poll. I mean, it’s — they’re out of sync with Democrats, independents, Republicans, Americans who want Washington to act, want Washington to take commonsense measures that would help grow the economy and put people back to work, and want them paid for so they don’t add a dime to the deficit and paid for in a way that this president has put forward.

**

TAPPER: Jay, you didn’t have 50 votes under the American Jobs Act. The — there were Democrats that voted –

CARNEY: We had 51.

TAPPER: — for cloture, but there were Democrats that voted –

CARNEY: Well, we didn’t get it further because the Republicans blocked it.

TAPPER: But there were Democrats that voted for cloture, like Webb and Lieberman, who said that they were going to vote for cloture but not for the final bill. There were not a majority of senators for the Jobs Act.

CARNEY: Well, look, first of all it didn’t get that far. Had it gotten that far I am — I — we are absolutely confident that a majority — if — the majority of the United States Senate would support the American Jobs Act as a broad majority of the American people support it.

-Jake Tapper

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