Solyndra and the Jobs Bill: Today’s Q’s for O’s WH – 9/15/2011
TAPPER: The House subcommittee has looked into the Solyndra matter to a degree. I’m just wondering, is it normal for the White House to show such interest in a Department of Energy loan? Is that –
CARNEY: I’m not sure what — you’re referring to the –
TAPPER: All the emails back and forth –
CARNEY: Right, the emails, as have been amply demonstrated, because we provided them as part of our cooperation, had to do with trying to schedule whether or not the — there would — the vice president was going to make an announcement. And it was a scheduling issue. That was the focus of the White House’s interest in this.
TAPPER: Well, I mean — OK, I understand that. But it does seem like the –
CARNEY: If you’re asking is the White House interested in the overall program and making its investments in –
TAPPER: I mean, is it normal — is it standard operating procedure for the White House to get so involved in a loan that the Department of Energy is –
CARNEY: Well, I have to correct you because there’s no evidence that the White House was involved in the loan. This was — this was the White House involved — because they weren’t — the White House was involved in trying to find out when a decision would be made, so they could make — staff here could make a decision about the vice president’s having an event.
And yes, as you know and anybody who travels with us or — understands the sort of complexity of scheduling White House events involving the two principals, the president and the vice president, that’s — that process engages a lot of people and if — and there’s just a whole series of decisions that have to be made regarding scheduling, whatever the nature of the event.
TAPPER: Just a few days before the loan was approved, the chief investor, George Kaiser, met with Rouse, Jarrett and Goolsbee. The White House has said that they think that meeting was largely about some of his charitable work. Have you determined what entirely that meeting was about and whether or not the loan was brought up and discussed?
CARNEY: What — I would point you simply to what George Kaiser himself has said, that he did not lobby or discuss — you know, he did not lobby the administration officials with regard to this. He
– with Solyndra. He was involved in a lot of charitable efforts and it’s our understanding that while we haven’t looked into every meeting and — that he might have had here, that that was the focus of his conversations, generally speaking, at the White House.
TAPPER: Do you reject the suggestion that the emails seem to imply that the visit by the vice president, which I guess ultimately was a satellite visit and not an in-person visit, but that that played a
role in whether or not the loan was approved? You have an OMB official saying that the announcement should be postponed, this is the first loan guarantee, “we should have full review with all hands on deck to make sure we get it right,” but the announcement was not postponed.
CARNEY: Well, again, there’s — if you look at the emails and what — you know, the issue that involves the vice president having this event did not drive the loan process. The loan was made
on — the loan guarantee was made on a merit-based — as a result of a merit-based process with — by, you know, career professionals over at the DOE. The same process has been used, has been in place for all these investments and –
TAPPER: So it did not — it did not play a role?
TAPPER: OK. And then lastly, on the jobs plan, the Speaker’s office says there has not been any outreach to them, even though — from the White House on the jobs bill, even though last week they requested a meeting. Is that true and if so, why hasn’t there been?
CARNEY: Well, first of all, the president spoke a week ago. There will be ample time going forward for continued consultations with leadership and rank-and-file members of Congress as Congress
takes up the American Jobs Act and hopefully passes it, so that we can do the things we need to do to grow the economy and create jobs. The — I don’t have any specifics –
TAPPER: The president said, “Pass this bill now” more than a hundred times in the last week.
CARNEY: Yeah. Well, that’s because it’s so urgent. He is — he is — he is — he is reflecting –
TAPPER: Not urgent enough to call the Speaker, though.
CARNEY: He is reflecting the urgency that the American people feel. And, you know, there will be, I’m sure, conversations between the White House and the leadership about this as we progress.
But what we have — you know, what you know about how Congress works and how Washington works is you need to, you know, keep people focused on the task at hand because there are so many other issues that can distract attention from the main, which, in this case, are the things we need to do to grow the economy and create jobs. And I’m sure the president will be and members of the staff and — will be engaged very directly with Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate as this process moves forward.
TAPPER: Don’t you think he should call the speaker before he reaches, say, 200?
CARNEY: I didn’t know you were working for the Speaker for scheduling. The fact is, he will talk to the speaker, but it is a — it is — the president has put forward a detailed piece of legislation. The elements of that plan are very clear. The Congress can and should act on it very quickly. It’s not — it’s not complicated. The proposals are very simple. And they — and they reflect — they are the kinds of proposals that have gained bipartisan support in the past. So it’s not — this is not a negotiation –
TAPPER: I know this is your thing now, that if a reporter asks a question, you impugn whether or not they have a political motive, but the president goes -
CARNEY: No. No, no, no, no, no. And I apologize. I simply meant that —
TAPPER: — the president goes out there — the president goes out there and says 100 times, pass this bill — I’m asking, has he called the man in charge of passing the bill in the House? It seems like a legitimate question, and not one that is Republican- motivated.
CARNEY: The president — Jake, the president spoke with the Speaker on the day that he delivered his speech. I am sure they will be speaking many times in the coming weeks and months about this and many other issues. It doesn’t –
TAPPER: But he doesn’t want it passed in the weeks and months. He wants it passed now. So call the Speaker.
CARNEY: He does. And it doesn’t require — Congress doesn’t need a phone call from the president to vote on legislation. That’s a myth. I mean, you know that this is — I mean, to — going back to
these questions, the insistence about why isn’t he meeting with the speaker beforehand when I hadn’t noticed anybody asking Republican leaders why they hadn’t invited administration officials or the president in to negotiate the details of the Ryan budget or to negotiate any of the Republican proposals that they’ve put forward, they — you know, we put forward our plan. It should be debated and, we hope, voted on in the House and the Senate and turned into law because that’s what the American people want. They want Congress to take action.
And we welcome, as the Speaker has said about considering the ideas the president has put forward in the American Jobs Act – we welcome other ideas, other proposals. We will certainly — we’re
looking for the answers that will get the economy growing and creating jobs. And we’re — we welcome Republican ideas. We welcome Democratic ideas. The president has put his ideas forward. They happen to be ideas that have traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support. And we hope and expect Congress will act on them.