TAPPER: President Obama is going to be introducing his outline for a budget. Fed Chair Bernanke has said the lack of a budget having been passed by the Senate has had an adverse affect on growth because it’s created uncertainty. Harry Reid has said that he doesn’t think there’s a need to introduce a budget this year. Who do you — who does the president think is right, Harry Reid or Ben Bernanke?
CARNEY: Well, I think the president, as you noted, will be presenting his budget. That budget, it’s important to remember – and you all covered it — has spending caps set based on the Budget Control Act that was signed into law by this president last August. That spending — those spending — that spending — those spending levels represent significant cuts agreed to by Democrats and Republicans and by this president.
And his budget will reflect the need for that — will reflect those cuts, but also reflect the priorities that he thinks are very important, and, I think, the priorities that — to wrap in part of your question here — that Senator Reid believes are important as well, as do many members of the Senate and the House.
TAPPER: So therefore, the Senate should pass a budget as well.
CARNEY: I don’t have a –
TAPPER: I’m asking.
CARNEY: Well, I don’t have an opinion to express on how the Senate does its business with regards to this issue. The fact is because of the negotiations over the debt ceiling that resulted in the Budget Control Act, we have an unusual situation here in that the top lines for the budget going forward have already been set and agreed to by Republicans and Democrats alike.
TAPPER: So the — I’m not actually asking your opinion, but the White House’s opinion, because it’s the White House’s –
CARNEY: Well, I mean, I don’t have a –
TAPPER: The White House has no opinion about whether or not the Senate should pass a budget? The president’s going to introduce one. The Fed chair says not having one is bad for growth. But the White House has no opinion about whether –
CARNEY: I have no opinion — the White House has no opinion on Chairman Bernanke’s assessment of how the Senate ought to do its business.
What the president believes is important is that the Budget Control Act that was signed into law by him last year provides the top line spending caps for the coming budget, and he will obviously meet those in the budget proposal he puts forward. And he looks forward to the Senate acting on the policy initiatives contained within his budget that will reflect the priorities he laid out in the State of the Union and also will reflect the priorities he laid out when he put forward his deficit and debt reduction proposal back in September.
So I don’t — I don’t think there is any — there will be nor is there now any doubt about the president’s view on where we ought to move with the budget.
TAPPER: And just to follow up on the Syria question earlier, from Norah, did — there have been reports that because of all that’s going on in — I think it’s Homs — the — there was a hospital that lost power and a number of premature babies died as a result. I don’t know if that’s a true story or not. Obviously in situations like this there are a lot of rumors. Does the White House know anything about the extent of the violence, factually what’s going on? I assume we have people on the ground to a degree or another. Are we monitoring exactly what is happening?
CARNEY: Well, I can say that we have all here seen the reporting and some of the horrific video images of the — of the escalation of violence that’s taking place in Syria over the last few days. And it’s clearly resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and been accompanied by troubling statements from senior regime officials who have pledged, quote, “to cleanse the country of renegades and outlaws.”
That is hardly reassuring, and only reinforces the fact that the Assad regime is engaged in a brutal campaign to slaughter its own people, people that have — this process began when the Syrian people peacefully demonstrated in support of reform and transition to democracy.
So I — you know, I don’t have any details to impart to you on the kind of information we might have with regards to what’s happening in Syria beyond the news reports, but the news reports are bad enough.
TAPPER: Thank you.