TAPPER: You used the word “giveaway,” and President Obama, in his statement yesterday, used the word “giveaway,” referring to the extension of the Bush — lower — the lower Bush tax cut rates for the — I guess, the top 1 or 2 percent of the country, people making over $200,000 a year or couples making 250. What do you say to a small-business owner who says, that’s not a giveaway; that’s my money, and by the way, I’m going to need some of that money in order to help pay for health care of individuals that I’m now mandated to do; it’s not giving anything away; it’s allowing me to keep my money?
CARNEY: Well, the phrasing of the question leaves out a few things, which is, one, this tax cut that the Senate passed and that the president supports would go to 97 percent of small businesses in America, 97 percent. Further, this president has cut the taxes of small businesses in America 18 times, independent of this. So he’s — his focus on assisting small businesses, which he considers the engine of economic growth in this country, the engine of job creation in this country, has been intense and will continue to be.
TAPPER: Yes, I left out people I wasn’t talking about.
CARNEY: Well, no, but I mean, your — but your question framed it around the — so you’re talking about the 3 percent here. And as we’ve noted, under the definition of small businesses that Republicans trot out when they’re insisting on these tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires means that –
TAPPER: I wasn’t talking about millionaires and billionaires.
CARNEY: No, but it means –
TAPPER: I was talking about somebody making over $200,000 a year.
CARNEY: Sure. But I mean, again, that’s 97 percent of people who file — small businesses that file taxes under the individual tax code will receive this tax cut. Many of the remaining, you know, self-described small businesses that we’re talking about, we’re talking about hedge fund managers often, and law firm partners.
And addressing those small businesses that fall in the remaining category — this tax cut goes to everybody. This is an often- misunderstood fact in reporting and, I think, just in general that giving this tax cut — extending this tax cut to 98 percent of Americans, those who make up to $250,000, means that everyone gets it, even those who make millions and billions, up to the first $250,000 of income, so that for a family — that includes everyone, OK, and including small businesses that file in this manner.
Secondly, the president — the president believes that small businesses are so important that he has dedicated a lot of energy and focus on providing tax credits and tax incentives and tax cuts to small businesses throughout his three and a half years in office.
Beyond that, he believes that extending the high-end Bush tax cuts again is something we simply cannot afford. We — you know, we’re talking about a trillion dollars over a decade. We’ve seen what happened when these tax cuts, which you may recall — you and I were covering it — were sold initially as a payback from the budget surpluses that were achieved under the Clinton administration. And then when the economy ran into trouble and those surpluses were beginning to erode, it was sold as an economic stimulus measure. And what we got was middle-class income stagnating, the slowest expansion in 50 years and an economic crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen in more than 70 years. So –
TAPPER: I’m not — the question is this: Why is it a “giveaway”? Why are you guys using — you and President Obama — using the term “giveaway” when even if you support the Senate Democrats’ bill, it’s not technically a giveaway; it is allowing people to keep the tax cut that they got in 2001 and 2002?
CARNEY: Right, but these are tax cuts that we cannot afford, that do not, by — as — by the estimates of credible, independent economists do not measurably help the economy and do not — in the way that tax cuts to working and middle-class Americans help the economy.
And you know, we have to make choices. And it is a — it is a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans that we simply can’t afford.
And the — and those who say that, oh, well, it — you know, that it’s terrible for the economy — remember, again, you and I were there and covered it. There were proclamations of gloom and doom, of economic crisis and stagnation and recession that were promised by Republicans when President Clinton instituted the tax rates that existed throughout the ’90s. And instead of everything that Republicans predicted, we got the longest peacetime expansion — economic expansion in our history. We got 24 million jobs created, so — and plenty — as the president says, plenty of millionaires and billionaires created as well.
So it’s a matter –
TAPPER: You can feel free to run on President Clinton’s record, but that’s –
CARNEY: — it’s a matter of choices. I mean, that’s what the — I think the president makes clear. We can’t afford this tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. It is a giveaway that we cannot afford. Middle-class Americans need that tax cut. Our economy needs it for 98 percent of the country.
TAPPER: Okay, I’m going to change the subject. Vice President Biden issued a rather strong statement yesterday about an unattributed quote or unattributed quotes from unnamed Romney advisers in a British newspaper. The Romney campaign’s response was that unattributed quotes should not merit a response from the vice president of the United States. And I wondered if you had any response to that.
CARNEY: Well, I’ll leave specific campaign questions to the — for the campaign to answer. I find it a little ironic, given some of the attention paid to quotes from unnamed — alleged unnamed Obama campaign advisers that have been the focus of attention on the — of the Romney campaign.
What I can say is that the record here is what matters. When this president came into office, our alliances were under strain and frayed; our standing in the world had been diminished. In the three and a half years that President Obama has been in office, he has strengthened our alliances around the world, including and in particular with NATO countries and including and in particular with the United Kingdom, with whom we have a remarkably strong bond, a special relationship that has never been stronger. And you know, I’ll leave the back-and-forth to the campaign.
But let’s talk about policy and fact here. And I would note that in that article in question, again, as a matter of policy, the only difference that I could tell, aside from the quote that’s gotten a lot of attention that was focused on, was the need to — you know, that the only difference in policy proposals that seemed apparent were that we should move a bust from one room to another in the White House. And that was a principal policy difference, which is pretty preposterous.
This president has strengthened our alliances; he has built up American credibility around the globe; he has kept his commitments to end the war in Iraq, to take the fight to al-Qaida, to wind down our war in Afghanistan, to rebalance our focus towards Asia, which was neglected in the eight years prior to President Obama coming into office. And he is meeting all those commitments.