JAKE TAPPER: The Congressional Budget Office report is - it's a pretty dire warning about what this nation faces, and yet I didn't hear the president mention it yesterday. Is there a reason why?
JAY CARNEY: Well, I think I put out a statement and - which is the White House's view and the president's view. The president talks every day that he's out there, as he was yesterday, about what we need to do to help build our economy, help it to continue to grow, help it to continue to create jobs. And yesterday and the day before he was focusing on the need to continue investments in education because he firmly believes that education is a matter of our economy, that it is an economic issue, and -
TAPPER: I'd - so that's not really what the Congressional Budget Office was addressing. They were talking about -
CARNEY: No, that's what - sure, about the -
TAPPER: - actually, the president - yeah, the president talked about education, he talked about Todd Akin, he talked about Mike Jordan's - he talked about a lot of -
CARNEY: Well, and he talks, as you know, all the time about what we need to do to - specifically to help the economy grow and create jobs, and his belief that we need to take a balanced approach to address the kinds of fiscal challenges that are necessary. I mean, the so-called fiscal cliff that the CBO report addressed, as you know, is being brought about by a vote of Congress, with bipartisan majorities in each house, to enact the Budget Control Act, and - which the president signed into law, which is -
TAPPER: Sure, but it's not as if the president is some kind of innocent bystander, here.
CARNEY: No, I'm not suggesting he is.
TAPPER: He's the president of the United States. What -
CARNEY: Well -
TAPPER: Here's the question: Do you think the president is showing as much economic leadership on this issue as he could be?
CARNEY: Yes, and I think that what I talked about in answer to an earlier question is that, look, we recognize that there's an enormous debate, a big conflict between the president and the Republican leadership in particular over whether or not we need to extend and, in some plans, give even greater tax cuts to the top 2 percent of American earners, the most well-to-do Americans. That debate is unlikely to be resolved between now and the election. The president talks about how the - in many ways, the voters will help resolve it by the election.
But what we can agree on, and this goes right to the issue of the fiscal cliff, is that we should absolutely extend tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of American small businesses tomorrow or the day that Congress gets back. And that would demonstrate to the American people and to people around the world that despite our differences on some very important issues, we can come together and do the practical thing and the sensible thing to help our economy grow, to avert some of the concern over the so-called fiscal cliff.
And I think that would give people a lot of reassurance about the capacity of their leaders in Washington after the election to continue to address these challenges and to ensure that we don't have to - that the sequester does not come about, because it was never designed to take effect. It was designed to be so onerous that it would force action. And hopefully, that will take place. But what we do know is that we agree on this. The middle-class tax cuts, which I think this is a little-known fact, are the single- biggest component of the so-called fiscal cliff. If we pass that, that would have a very positive impact on - both in the raw numbers sense but also, I think, psychologically because it would demonstrate that Washington is willing, despite the partisan differences here, to do the right thing by the American people and by the American economy.
TAPPER: Why isn't the president on Capitol Hill telling -
CARNEY: I think - well, I don't - I'm not aware that anybody's up on Capitol Hill. But the - but the president's position -
TAPPER: Why isn't he talking - even talking about this?
CARNEY: He has - he talks about this frequently. He talks about it all the time. I mean, he was focusing on education the last couple days, but you know, numerous speeches in the last several weeks, he talks very much about - I mean, you saw him repeatedly talk about the need to extend middle-class tax cuts. And he'll continue to do that. You know, I'm standing here today speaking for him and for the White House and the administration, talking about the need to do that. And we would welcome, in a heartbeat, a willingness by Republican leaders in the House to schedule and pass - schedule a vote on and pass an extension of the middle-class tax cuts. And then we could all agree that our differences on the remaining 2 percent remain. That we don't agree on that issue and that that might have to be dealt with after the election. But if we took that action on the 98 percent, it would demonstrate a seriousness of purpose, it would - and it would be very helpful to both the American people who would have that assurance and certainty about their tax cuts - 98 percent of the American people - and to the economy writ large.
TAPPER: I wanted to follow up on the energy question. Why do you and the White - and the president continue to refer to it as an all-of- the-above energy approach, when there are certainly components that Republicans are pushing for that you reject, such as the Keystone
CARNEY: Well, the - well, first of all, the Keystone pipeline is a - we haven't rejected anything. t's a process that's under way at the State Department that was delayed because - for two reasons: one, because of concern by folks in Nebraska, including the Republican governor, about the original proposed route; and then because of Congress' - the House Republicans' insistence on including it as part of the payroll tax cut extension. That is a second - that is a specific issue. The all-of- the-above approach is we are - as you know, this administration has approved other pipelines, including transnational pipelines. It has approved expanded drilling both on water and on land, federal and public. It has approved -
TAPPER: You mean types of energy; you don't mean -
CARNEY: Well, I don't mean that every single project imaginable has - that would require some sort of federal approval has necessarily. But I mean, every form of energy has enjoyed the very aggressive support of this administration. And that includes nuclear, wind, solar and biodiesel and, as you know, oil and gas.