The Jobs Vs the Environment Construct and GOP ‘Suffocating’ the Economy: Today’s Qs for O’s WH — 10/12/2011

TAPPER: You said that the environmental regulations that the House is talking about rolling back won’t create any jobs. But didn’t the president at the jobs council the other day talk about the very choice between environmental regulations and job creation and how this was a debate the nation needed to have, to talk about 10,000 jobs, that come with it 10,000 new cases of asthma? Didn’t he acknowledge that?

CARNEY: Well, the president does believe — as you know, because he launched the first-ever substantial regulatory look-back so that this administration would scour the books to identify outdated or duplicative or overly burdensome regulations and either minimize them or do away with them — that there is an issue here with regulation that we need to address in a smart way.

What my point is — and this is a point that was made, I think, even today by AP in a fact check — is that even if you agree with Republican policy proposals aimed at deregulation, there is no case to be made that if enacted, those proposals would result in an immediate positive impact on the economy or on job creation. And so my point at the top was simply that there is a problem now that needs to be addressed; the president has a plan to address the problem we have now, which is a need to grow the economy and create jobs.

Because, I mean, it’s simply — if the answer is there’s nothing we can do, nothing we should do, then that suggests that there is a willingness to live with 9.1 percent unemployment and to live with, you know, fairly modest economic growth, the kind of modest economic growth that will not add to our employment rolls. And that – you know, the president is not satisfied with that, and that’s why he’s pushed the American Jobs Act.

And what — the contrast that I think is important to make here is in terms of the jobs — what they have called the jobs plan that the Republicans have put forward contains within it — and it’s cut taxes, cut regulations, cut spending — no measures that would have — even if you believed everything within that package was meritorious, no measures that would have demonstrable impact on the economy and jobs in the short term. And don’t just take my word for it. Macroeconomic Advisers, Moody’s — they have assessed it such as it is and made that same point even as they said that there are some positive proposals within it.

TAPPER: Well, I’m not comparing it to the president’s jobs bill. But just as a — as a matter of principle, the White House itself a few weeks ago decided not to go forward with an EPA regulation because of concern as to what the impact would be on the economy during a fragile state, a fragile time for the economy.

CARNEY: Well, I think that the –

TAPPER: Let me just — so I’m just wondering how — why when you do it, you guys are taking business and the economy into account, but when they do it, it’s something else entirely.

CARNEY: My point is — on that specific one, I think the ozone — I mean, the issue here was creating uncertainty for businesses when, in fact, we were going to revisit these standards in two years. That was the reason that the president laid out.

But putting aside that specific one, my point is not that there might not be benefits to some streamlining or even elimination of some overly burdensome regulations — this president has made that clear with his rollback — but that there is no — that that is not a jobs plan, even if it’s — even if there are elements within it that are worth doing, that’s not a jobs plan. And the point that we’re making, the president’s making, I’m making today is that there is a priority right now that’s widely felt by the American people that Washington needs to take positive action to help the economy grow and to help the economy create jobs.

TAPPER: One other question I wanted to ask is about whether or not the president agrees with his campaign manager, “their strategy” — I’m speaking about the Republicans in Congress – “their strategy is to suffocate the economy for the sake of what they think will be a political victory.”

CARNEY: Well, whether it’s deliberate or not, by not taking action, anemic or modest economic growth and 9.1 percent unemployment feels pretty suffocating to most Americans who are experiencing it. And this just goes to the point that I was making, that there is an opportunity here for Congress to act in a positive way, to do what outside economists say would boost growth by up to 2 percent next year, and would add up to 1.9 million jobs by next year. That would be a substantial accomplishment for the American people. And do it in a way that’s entirely paid for, would not add a dime to the deficit. Pay for it in a way that is supported by a majority of the American people. Pay for it in a way that’s actually supported by a majority of Republicans, according to, I believe, Bloomberg’s poll.

So, you know, this is an opportunity that should not be wasted. There’s a priority here that the American people have that is clear as day to anybody who looks at the data or has conversations out in the country with average Americans who are just trying to make ends meet. Let’s do something on the economy. There are proposals here that have enjoyed bipartisan support in the past, that should enjoy it now, and they’re paid for.

TAPPER: So the president agrees with the verb “suffocate,” just not necessarily that it’s a strategy?

CARNEY: Well, I haven’t spoken — I haven’t spoken with the president about that. I think we agree that inaction has a suffocating effect on the economy, no question.

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