Have We Reached an Economic Tipping Point for the President? - Today's Q's for O's WH - 6/4/2012

TAPPER: Who specifically is "rooting for failure"?

CARNEY: I think that when you have a situation where action is not being taken on Capitol Hill where it is obvious, as outside economists will tell you, what actions Congress could take to help create jobs, that there is at least a failure to act. And you know, I can't tell you specifically whether or not that's rooting or just passivity, but the fact is that Americans send their members - send their elected representatives to Washington to act, not to do nothing.

And there is an opportunity, and has been now for quite some time, an opportunity to help the economy grow faster, to help it create more jobs, to protect the jobs of teachers and firefighters and policemen and -women, and Congress has failed to act on those, and Congress has failed to act on - thus far, on elements of the congressional to-do list that would also have positive economic effect.

TAPPER: So they failed to act by not supporting what you support, but they have been passing legislation; you just don't -

CARNEY: Right, and the same outside economists - again, not our economists, but the same ones who, you know, get the golden seal of approval in terms of independence, will tell you that those proposals, by and large put forward by Republicans that include small-business tax cuts with the definition of small business that gives a huge tax cut to tax fund managers - I mean, to hedge fund managers or partners in law firms, would not have any immediate positive impact on the economy. It may have some impact in the future. Some of them have neither short-term nor medium- or long-term positive impact. The proposals the president put forward were specifically designed to have effect now, because the American people aren't focused on, you know, what's going to help the economy in five years. Right now they're focused on what can we do now to help this economy grow and create jobs.

TAPPER: Is it fair to say that there is nothing new that the President plans on introducing given this bad - not only a bad jobs report but revision downward of the two previous months, that the President's going to keep pressing forward with his to-do list and things he's been talking about for months - nothing new?

CARNEY: No, I don't think that's fair to say. I said - what I said in answer to questions that came prior was that the President will continue to work with his team of economic advisers as well as outside economic advisers to examine other proposals and other ideas that - as he has all along - that could help the economy grow and create jobs. And those could be proposals that require congressional approval or they could be proposals that he can act on using his executive authority. They can be proposals also that encourage private-sector action along the lines of the things that the first lady has done with the president and vice president and Dr. Biden to get the private sector to hire returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. So there's a variety of things that - and areas where action can be taken. And obviously, the President is continuing to work with his team on potential new ideas. What - the point I'm trying to make is, there's not a lot of mystery, in June of 2012, after all of the economic debates that we've had these past several years, about what the menu was - menu looks like in terms of the things we can do both to help the economy grow in the near term, help it create jobs in the near term, take actions that address our deficit and debt in the medium and long term. One, you know, positive outcome of these debates and negotiations and swapping of proposals has been that, you know, there's a lot of work on the shelf that can be taken off the shelf and acted on if there's a willingness to take the kind of balanced approach that the American public supports, the President supports, bipartisan commissions support when we talk about sort of broad economic proposals that include short-term action and medium- and long-term deficit reduction.

TAPPER: Jay, in the last few days Democrats have expressed real concern about not only the economy but what it says about the president's prospects for re-election, and with him, the House and Senate and who will control them. Is the President hearing from these Democrats? What is the concern - does the President share the concern that somehow there's been a tipping point reached, that the economy is now headed in the wrong direction, not just a blip, but in the last two months were revised downward, and the president will not be able to make the argument that the economy - as he has as recently as March - that job growth is happening, it's accelerating and that his prospects for re-election are weaker? Is he at all concerned about this?

CARNEY: Jake, the president is focused far less on his job than on the jobs of the American people. That's what he works on every day. That is what drives all of the economic proposals that he has put forward.

TAPPER: Well not today, right? Today he has fundraisers -

CARNEY: That is what has driven him from the - from the time he decided to run for the Senate and run for the presidency. The fact of the matter is, as you know, having covered him for some time, is, you know, he takes the long view on all of these things. He didn't buy into the same punditry in the early part of this year that said because we'd had a series of better-than-expected months of job creation that all would be smooth sailing, either for our economy or for the election cycle. And he, you know, takes a very determined view today about the work he needs to do as president, the direction this economy needs to move, and the debate that he'll have with his opponent in the coming months over the direction the country should go in. You know, that's - you know, this is - these issues are far too significant and they matter in tangible ways to far too many people across the country to be reduced to an electoral equation: Is it good or bad for any candidate's prospects in November? That's not why he got into this. And I think, going to your last question, he will argue strongly that the actions that he took as president, working with Congress as well as around Congress where he had to, took an economy that was in free fall and reversed that direction; took an economy that was shedding 750,000 jobs in the month of January 2009, on the way to an 8 million job loss whole, to one that has grown by 4.3 million jobs since his policies began to take effect. And Friday's numbers were very far from where we want them to be, where the President wants them to be, but even those numbers - again, another month of private sector job creation - compare favorably, by anyone's standards, to losing 750,000 jobs in one month, which is what faced this country when he took office. And it wasn't even halfway done when he took office. So that's the way he looks at all of these issues.

-Jake Tapper