White House press secretary Jay Carney began today’s briefing by telling us that President Obama is today taking questions about the State of the Union at a Google+ “hangout.”
TAPPER: Can you explain exactly what Google+ is? (Laughter.)
CARNEY: (Chuckles.) Google+ is, I believe, Google’s social media vehicle. But for more questions, I refer you to the good folks at Google. (Laughter.) But you’re right to ask.
TAPPER: I have a couple questions. First of all, are we going to get any details — is the public going to get any details about the so-called Buffett rule before the budget, or is it going to be in the budget?
CARNEY: I don’t have — I wouldn’t anticipate more details from us prior to the budget. The Buffett rule, as you know, as the president described it in the State of the Union — and certainly, as Mr. Buffett has described it — is a principle that will guide the president’s approach to tax reform. And that principle is simply that it’s not — in an environment like the one we live in, where we have important investments that we need to pay for — whether it’s national security or investments in education, innovation — everyone needs to pay their fair share, and it is not — it’s not fair to have a tax code that — because of loopholes and other things within it, where you have a millionaire and a billionaire paying a lower effective tax rate than some sizeable number of middle-class Americans. So I –
TAPPER: Are we going to get details? I mean –
CARNEY: Well, I think you will get more details. But not prior to the budget. I don’t anticipate that.
REPORTER: (Well, won’t the bill be scored by the CBO ?)?
CARNEY: Yeah, I don’t have any more details on that for you.
TAPPER: Vice President Biden, over the weekend, attended a retreat in which — a Democratic House retreat, in which he shared some details, in his inimitable style, about the decision-making process for the OBL raid, in which he said that he actually recommended against it and everybody else in the room, with the exception of Secretary Panetta, hedged their bets. Is that accurate?
CARNEY: Well, Vice President Biden was one of the handful of people involved in this process. And I certainly — I know that he’s speaking accurately. The — I think the broader point is – the president has made here is that this was not a sure thing. But the president had so much faith in our special forces and their capacity to fulfill this mission that he made the — you know, he made the call to go forward. I think Secretary Gates has spoken about this as well.
And you know, that’s why — that’s why it’s a presidential-level decision, because in the end, as with a lot of decisions, your advisers come together and have compelling arguments on either side, and you have to make the call. And that’s what the president did in this case.