Jake Tapper and Mary Bruce report:
White House press secretary Jay Carney today took some questions about events on the campaign trail. That in and of itself is not so unusual. What is unusual is that today he answered some of them.
1. CARNEY CITES GEORGE ROMNEY AS ONE WHO ESTABLISHED INCOME TAX RELEASE TRADITION
Noting that the centerpiece of the president’s tax policy has been an argument that “everyone needs to pay their fair share.” With that in mind, a reported asked about Mitt Romney today saying that his effective tax rate is “probably closer to the 15 percent rate than anything.” Romney’s estimated net worth is said to be above $200 million.
“What does the president think of that?” the reporter asked.
Carney said that the president agrees with billionaire Warren Buffett that those “who are making millions of dollars, millionaires and billionaires, say, should not pay a lower effective tax rate than middle-class Americans. As Warren Buffett put it, he should not pay a much lower tax rate than his own administrative assistant, his own secretary….This only illuminates what he believes is…an issue, which is that everybody who’s working hard ought to pay their fair share… — and that includes millionaires who might be paying an effective tax rate of 15 percent when folks making $50(,000) or $75,000 or $100,000 a year are paying much more. He thinks we ought to fix that, and that is an element of the approach he takes in his economic proposals, as you know.”
Asked why Romney should have to release his tax records, Carney said, “it’s not for us to call on someone to release his tax records, but it is an established tradition for presidential candidates to release their tax records. Then-Senator Obama did, released multiple years of his tax records, and obviously has released his tax records, as tradition dictates, since he’s been president. And the president’s not unique in that regard. President George W. Bush, President Clinton, nominees for each party — for years and years and years, I think going back to 1976, this has been a very standard tradition. And obviously we think it’s a good tradition, and that’s why then-Senator Obama released his tax records going back, I think, six or seven years when he was a candidate for president in the 2008 election cycle.”
“I think it was a tradition that was initiated by then-presidential candidate George Romney back in 1968, who released 12 years of tax records in ’68, as I understand it,” Carney said.
2. CARNEY ACKNOWLEDGES RECORD FOOD STAMP USE, SAYS IT’S NOT OBAMA’S FAULT
Another reporter asked about Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich last night saying that “the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.”
The number of recipients of food stamps has increased 45%, a reporter said. Carney did not dispute the assertion, but suggested it wasn’t President Obama’s fault.
“Everyone understands that this economy took a body blow in 2007-2008 from which we are still recovering, and that that resulted in an economy that was contracting, that was shrinking at an historic pace,” Carney said. “It was a result of the worst recession since the Great Depression, that was brought on by economic policies that certainly predate this president; and that this president has been working very hard with his team to try to fix and working with Congress to try to fix and correct so that we can grow, as we have been growing on his watch, so that we can create private sector jobs, as we have been doing — 3.2 million private sector jobs in the last many months; and that’s the — that’s the direction that we need to be going in, not the direction that we were headed into when he took office in — three years ago almost to the day, when the economy was in free fall, when there was talk of another Great Depression, there was talk of unemployment as high as 25 percent, potentially.”
3. I’M GONNA KNOCK YOU OUT (MAMA SAID KNOCK YOU OUT)
Gingrich was told at an event today that the GOP needs someone who can bloody President Obama’s nose. Gingrich replied: “I don’t want to bloody his nose, I want to knock him out.”
“I hadn’t heard those comments,” Carney said. “But look, the campaign trail is filled with exuberant rhetoric, and I’ll just let that one pass.”
-Jake Tapper and Mary Bruce