The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 6/17/2011
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:51 P.M. EDT
MR. CARNEY: Good afternoon. Welcome to the White House. I have no announcements so we will start with questions. Erica.
Q Can you talk about the comments that Bill Daley made yesterday at the National Association of Manufacturers? He was speaking of regulations and said that sometimes you can’t defend the indefensible. What was he referring to specifically?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I -- a couple of things. It’s a good question. The chief of staff went there very much looking forward to hearing from the folks at NAM and wanting to get their input, their criticism, their ideas. And he heard some specific stories about regulations that the people telling those stories felt were over-burdensome. And you have to understand that he went in there with no prior knowledge about the cases that were put before him, but obviously the ones that sounded bad he thought sounded bad. And he said so.
We’re committed -- this President is committed, as you know, through his regulatory look-back, to weeding out regulations that have outlived their usefulness, that -- or in any other way unnecessarily restrain businesses from growing and from hiring. This President is committed to that and this chief of staff is committed to that, and that’s why he wanted to go have this meeting and will continue to have meetings like it.
Q But there were also comments from the business owners there that the administration’s regulatory look-back is toothless and kind of pointless. So if --
MR. CARNEY: Well, we obviously --
Q That’s the audience it’s intended for. If they don’t buy it, what’s --
MR. CARNEY: Well, again, I don’t think that’s a universally held opinion. The regulatory look-back is real. It is -- it has teeth. It will -- has and will produce results in terms of eliminating unnecessary regulations or regulations that have outlived their usefulness or ones that are overly burdensome. This President is very committed to making sure that even as we take measures that are necessary to protect the health of American citizens, to make sure our air is clean and our water is clean, that -- and our food is safe, that we do not do things that unnecessarily or in an overly burdensome way restrain economic growth and job creation.
Q On the golf outing tomorrow, are we going to be able to see them? Will our photographers be able to take pictures of them? And if not, why not?
MR. CARNEY: I think you’re presuming the worst. Yes, we have worked with the Speaker’s office on an arrangement to have a pool spray of the Speaker of the House and the President playing golf, and their partners, so that will happen tomorrow -- full pool.
I don't want to elevate your expectations about a word-for-word readout of the conversation they have. I can assure we won’t do that, but we will provide --
Q What about the score?
MR. CARNEY: I don't anticipate any great detail about -- being provided about the outing, which is meant to be an opportunity for the Speaker and the President, as well as the Vice President and Ohio Governor to have a conversation, to socialize in a way that so rarely happens in Washington. So -- but we will provide access tomorrow.
Q What would be the rationale for not releasing the score?
MR. CARNEY: I didn't say we wouldn’t release the score. I have no idea. We may release a score. We’ll see. (Laughter.)
Q If the President wins, you’ll release it. If -- (Laughter.)
MR. CARNEY: Exactly.
Q Did you say there would be --
Q So it won’t be released? (Laughter.)
MR. CARNEY: I just said -- I simply meant to not expect a detailed readout of their conversation. I’ve been asked in the past about would they negotiate on the budget and would they talk about the various issues that are in front of both men, and obviously they -- I would expect they will talk about some of the very important issues that have to be dealt with by this administration and this Congress. But I don't anticipate a detailed readout of that. We’ll obviously give you a readout of the outing, but not in any great detail.
Q When will we know where it’s going to be?
MR. CARNEY: When we announce it.
Q Which will be when they get there.
MR. CARNEY: Again, the pool -- we will have a pool spray.
Q Thanks. Can I ask you about Yemen?
MR. CARNEY: Certainly.
Q The Yemen government said that President Saleh will return from Saudi Arabia within days. Does the administration think that's in the best interest of Yemen? And is there any engagement happening with Saudi Arabia on that issue?
MR. CARNEY: Our policy on this remains the same, which is we believe that President Saleh needs to keep his commitment to sign the GCC-brokered agreement that would begin the transition immediately. We think that is in the best interests of the people of Yemen, and we continue to work with our partners in the region to help that happen. So we -- our position hasn’t changed on that.
Q And on his return to Yemen?
MR. CARNEY: The issue isn’t about his return. The issue is about the transition that needs to take place.
Q And just another question on Syria. France and Syria [sic] were commenting today on a need for stronger sanctions. What’s the U.S. point of view?
MR. CARNEY: Well, we have put -- we have taken significant action in terms of sanctions. We’ve had sanctions on Syria for a long time. We’ve ratcheted up the intensity of those sanctions by naming individuals, including President Assad. So I don’t know specifically about this call for greater sanctions. I think our record on this is very strong, and we continue to call on the Syrian government to cease the violence. We condemn the attacks on unarmed civilians and we urge the government to begin peaceful, political dialogue.
Q Can I just ask one thing on the golf, which is it’s obvious that President wants to get some business done and have a conversation with John Boehner; obviously he sounds very positive. But there’s an image of golf as being kind of a rich-guy sport, and we’re in the middle of a recession. The President plays a lot of golf. What’s the President’s view on the image that’s projected when he and other powerful leaders are out on the golf course and a lot of Americans are out of work?
MR. CARNEY: I think that the important thing here, Ed, is that the President of the United States and the Speaker of the House of the United States -- two of the most powerful leaders in this country, obviously, who are of different parties and have a great deal of business to do on behalf of the American people -- are getting together in a social occasion -- on a social occasion. They both play golf. A lot of Americans play golf.
And the -- this is an opportunity that I think has value beyond the game -- great value beyond the game. And it’s the kind of thing the President believes is useful for the leaders in Washington to do more frequently -- not the game itself, but to sit across each other, or to engage with each other in a non-confrontational way, to sort out the business between them and the differences between them. So I think the good is significant here.
Q Do they have any plans to play polo? (Laughter.) Just wondering.
Q Just a quick follow-up on another topic, which is Social Security, potential cuts. The Wall Street Journal has a story suggesting that AARP, a major seniors group, obviously, may be shifting its position and ending its longtime opposition to having Social Security cuts on the table. They’re -- the group is saying it’s not exactly true, but they are saying that on the table is raising the retirement age and other possible changes to Social Security. My question is, how does the White House view this possible change? But also, does the President think, as the Vice President has these debt talks and other things, that raising the Social Security retirement age is on the table? Is possible Social Security cuts on the table?
MR. CARNEY: As you know, I won’t get into specifics about the negotiations being led by the Vice President. Having said that, the President’s position remains what it has been, and is quite clear, as he stated in his State of the Union address and as was repeated in his -- the framework he put forward, which is that we do not believe -- the President does not believe, just like many, many economists do not believe, that Social Security is a driver of our near-term deficit problems or is in immediate crisis. The President supports measures to strengthen Social Security, but he does not support anything that would slash benefits for future generations.
And I think it’s -- again, without getting into specifics about the talks, the administration, led by the Vice President, entered these negotiations with the President’s proposal, the President’s framework, as its reference point, its starting point. And as I understand it and know for a fact, the House -- I mean, the Republicans brought as their starting point and their framework the House Republican budget plan. So I think that can help indicate to you, at least when they began, what was on the table and what wasn’t.
Q Is the administration -- or does the President have any personal reaction to the investigative report from the House investigative committee upon the ATF “Fast and Furious” program and all the blowback from that operation?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I don't have anything specific like a quote from the President. I can tell you that, as the President has already said, he did not know about or authorize this operation. But the Department of Justice has said repeatedly that fighting criminal activity along the Southwest border, including the illegal trafficking of guns to Mexico, has been and is a priority of the Department.
The Attorney General has also made clear that he takes the allegations that have been made -- or raised, rather, very seriously, and that is why he has asked the Inspector General to investigate the matter. It is also why you see the department cooperating with the oversight committee.
So this investigation is ongoing, and I really can’t comment beyond that.
Q Has the President heard from the Mexican authorities about it?
MR. CARNEY: Not that I’m aware of. I believe the President made a comment about this that I was just referencing when the Mexican President was here.
Q That’s when -- okay, that’s when you were --
MR. CARNEY: So I don’t -- I mean, it certainly came up in that room when it was --
Q But I mean specifically this week with the report being issued.
MR. CARNEY: I don’t believe so. I’m not aware of any conversation like that.
Q On Ed’s question, you said the President doesn’t support slashing benefits. Can you clarify, does he support some form -- some kinds of cuts or increases in taxes? Does he think all that should be on the table, short of slashing benefits?
MR. CARNEY: Well, again, I’m not going to get into what’s on the table. We’re not engaged in Social Security negotiations. We’re on -- the Vice President is leading talks aimed at deficit reduction.
Q Yes, but separate from those -- this is separate from that. The President certainly has positions --
MR. CARNEY: The President’s position I think is to strengthen social -- retirement security for the low-income and vulnerable, maintain robust disability and survivors’ benefits, no privatization or weakening of the Social Security system. Reform must strengthen Social Security and restore long-term solvency. No current beneficiary should see the basic benefit reduced, nor will we accept an approach that slashes benefits for future generations.
I mean, that’s his position. I don’t have any more details for it on you. We’re not in the process of negotiating Social Security reform.
Q But it sounds like he’s saying no cuts for people currently, and not slashing in the future. It sounds like he’s saying cuts in the future, okay. I mean, the word “slash” is something that’s not a random word. It’s chosen --
MR. CARNEY: Well, we will not accept any kind of reform that slashes benefits to future beneficiaries.
Q And tax increases?
MR. CARNEY: I don’t have -- I’m not negotiating a Social Security reform project here from the podium, and I’m not aware that anybody else is at the moment.
Q Do you know if the President has thoughts on Jimmy Carter’s piece in The New York Times, call off the global drug war and returning to his position from way back in the ‘70s that possession of small amounts of -- any comment on that?
MR. CARNEY: I don't have a comment on that, and I have not spoken to the President about it. I’m not sure he saw it.
Q One other question. You moved this briefing up an hour. Was that so you could attend one of those not-on-the-schedule meetings that we were talking about yesterday?
MR. CARNEY: What I -- it was for scheduling reasons. The short answer to your question is no, I did not move it to attend a meeting that I’m not going to talk about. (Laughter.) So -- but this was just a logistics thing to move it up.
Q The schedule for this administration is very much like previous administrations. Why not just put all the President’s meetings on the schedule to be --
MR. CARNEY: The President has a number of meetings, including national security meetings that we do not put on the schedule. Some -- I think some could be for obvious reasons, but we have been very transparent about the President’s schedule.
Q But not more transparent than previous administrations. Why not step it up?
MR. CARNEY: I’m not sure that's the case. Actually, I think I can say for a fact, because I covered him, that the previous Vice President went for weeks on end without having any public schedule on his --
Q Previous Vice President --
MR. CARNEY: Vice President and I think that --
Q Well, I’m talking about the President.
MR. CARNEY: And that’s the administration, is what you said, and I think that's --
Q Well, talk about the President.
MR. CARNEY: Our general transparency is -- I think is well established. But we do not put every meeting on the schedule, and I don't think -- nor should we.
Q Is that only for security, national security reasons?
MR. CARNEY: I think it could be for a variety of reasons.
Q Very mysterious.
MR. CARNEY: It’s not meant to be mysterious, but I think that --
Q It is.
MR. CARNEY: -- the President has meetings that --
Q It’s not transparent.
MR. CARNEY: -- we don't put on the schedule. I think that's -- stands to reason.
Q Jay, on Libya, does the White House have thoughts on the resolution that Senator Durban has crafted that would allow the same level of activity in the conflict, but would restrict it to this calendar year?
MR. CARNEY: I don't have a reaction specifically to that. I think we made clear our position on our desire for support for a resolution similar to the one that is bipartisan that was put forward by Senators McCain and Kerry and others. And we will continue to consult with Congress, continue to answer questions, continue to provide information on a regular basis about the conflict.
Q Dan Pfeiffer went to an event today with a liberal group that he got some pretty tough pushback. Were you guys surprised by that?
MR. CARNEY: Not at all. I think -- look, we -- this goes to the chief of staff talking to the business community, the White House communications director talking to Netroots, I believe it was. We solicit and want to hear ideas from a variety of corners, participants in the dialogue and people with ideas and a stake in the solutions we find to a lot of the -- the challenges that face us. So I think that was also a useful and robust conversation that the communications director had, and we’re happy to do that kind of thing.
Q One quick follow on Libya. The 90-day mark is Sunday. Should we expect any kind of flurry of engagement between the White House and the Hill between now and then?
MR. CARNEY: Is there some magical association with the 90th day that I’m not aware of?
MR. CARNEY: No, I don't think so.
MR. CARNEY: Wasn’t it 60?
Q It’s 60 and then you have 30 days to withdraw.
Q Sixty plus 30.
Q So it’s 90 total.
MR. CARNEY: Well, there’s no -- we’re obviously not changing our position. We -- NATO extended the mission a number of weeks ago by 90 days. We are participants in the NATO mission, and our position is very well known.
Q I have two topics: Libya and golf. On the timing issue on Libya, just to make sure I am aware or understand the White House’s view on this, is it the view that this could go on indefinitely? This operation could go on as long as NATO keeps extending it, and you never -- even if it lasts until the fall or through the summer, into next year, you wouldn’t need congressional approval?
MR. CARNEY: What we have said is that our role in this mission, our support role and the kind of engagement that we have right now, does not meet -- in our legal analysis does not meet the threshold set by the War Powers resolution that requires congressional action. I’m not going to speculate about what the Libyan situation will look like in 30, 60, 90 days, or six months, or anything like that. But we are participants in this coalition. NATO has extended the mission to continue to fulfill the goals set forward by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, and we continue to participate in it.
Q Well, just to put this issue to rest, since it doesn’t seem like it’s going to go away, they’re not going to drop it, I don't think, on the Hill, why not get congressional approval? Is there a real concern that that it wouldn’t happen?
MR. CARNEY: I have said from the day the hostilities began, when the United States was in the lead -- a matter of days, not weeks -- and from the day that this mission began that we would welcome congressional support. And I’d remind you that in March, prior to the beginning of this mission, there was a Senate resolution asking for us to do just that.
So the -- we would welcome, as I just said, I think, in answer to a question earlier, that -- and support a resolution along the lines of the one put forward by Senator McCain and Senator Kerry, and we have throughout this process appreciated the support for the goals set forward by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 that we are participating in, which is to protect the civilians of Libya from massacre initially and from harm at the hands of the Qaddafi regime, to enforce a no-fly zone, and enforce an arms embargo.
Q But certainly welcoming a resolution and seeking approval are two different things. It seems to suggest that there's a concern that you wouldn’t get it.
MR. CARNEY: I have said -- I don't think we’ve been beating around the bush about the fact that we would welcome, we support, we endorse, we would appreciate this -- a resolution like the one -- I mean, it’s for Congress to take the action, obviously. So -- and we would welcome if they did.
Q And the last thing on golf. Are there any wagers going on behind the blue doors to -- in lower press or upper press as to how it’s going to turn out?
MR. CARNEY: None that I’m aware of. None that I’m aware of.
Q Is the President’s trip to Walter Reed this afternoon, is that related to the decision that he’s making on Afghanistan?
MR. CARNEY: Did we put something out about the President’s schedule this afternoon?
MR. EARNEST: It was on the schedule last night.
MR. CARNEY: Okay. It is not. It is a visit like he has made on many occasions to see wounded veterans.
Q And then just quickly, I know that you said that you weren’t surprised by the reaction that Dan Pfeiffer got at Netroots and the discontent that was at the manufacturers association meeting. How do you account for it? Why do you think --
MR. CARNEY: Well, I would say, first of all, I would not characterize it as discontent. I think there were a lot of folks at the NAM meeting who expressed appreciation for the fact that Bill Daley had come and appreciation for a lot of things we’ve done. So -- and that’s true too. I mean, you were talking about at Netroots. There were a lot of things that Dan talked about in that engagement that obviously met with approval -- some of the accomplishments the President has -- can claim from the first two and a half years meet with approval in that room, and broadly beyond that.
So the fact that people are pressing for more to be done, whether it’s in business or in that community, I think that’s the nature of our public life here, and it’s why the President says, as he has said quite a bit frequently, that we are not done. We have much work to do. And we are pressing on with that work.
Q What’s the status of the deliberations on troop strength in Afghanistan?
MR. CARNEY: Conversations continue. The President is consulting with members of his national security team. He will have a decision soon.
Q Is he consulting with anybody outside the White House? To what extent is he talking to people involved in national security committee work and so forth on the Hill?
MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any specific readouts for you. The President obviously speaks with others beyond the White House, beyond the administration, on matters of national security. I don’t have a specific conversation to report out to you. But he is, and regularly has over the course of the 18 months since he implemented this policy, had discussions with a variety of people with interest in the Afghanistan mission.
Q And is “soon” still your guidance on --
MR. CARNEY: Soon is still my guidance.
Q All right.
Q The Vice President last night said that they were going to accelerate the talks next week. Do you have an idea of how many days they’re going to be meeting next week at all?
MR. CARNEY: I think they’ll meet three times, perhaps four next week. And I think that staff will also sort of intensify and step up its level of work on this. We’re very eager to press for an agreement, press forward towards an agreement. This is obviously difficult -- these are difficult issues, but there has been progress. There has been a very serious approach to the negotiations by all sides, which is much appreciated by the Vice President, by the President. And we look forward to and remain optimistic about the prospects of an agreement.
Q And to hasten things along, should we possibly anticipate the President having people down here at the White House next week?
MR. CARNEY: I think that’s possible. Again, I don’t want to -- right now, we have meetings on the books, that the talks being led by the Vice President will continue. Obviously the President in a different -- a variety of ways is engaged in this, and will no doubt engage further as we move along this road.
Anybody? Yes, sir.
Q Jay, can I ask another question about the budget talks? You spoke about the progress that’s being made and you’re optimistic and all the rest of that. But the Vice President yesterday was saying that the really hard stuff hasn’t even been broached yet -- you know, talk about the entitlement reform and additional revenues and stuff.
MR. CARNEY: Well, I don’t think -- I think it hasn’t been tackled yet. I think that --
Q Well, he said the hard -- the really hard stuff lies ahead.
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think it’s certainly unresolved, as you would expect. I mean, I -- and I’m not going to further characterize it. But echoing what he was saying, I think that it stands to reason that there are issues still to be resolved. Not surprisingly, you might expect the issues still to be resolved are the hardest ones. And I think you can expect that this process will not -- will require broader agreement beyond that room to finalize it and make it real.
So -- but the progress has been significant. The approach has been serious. And the discipline by the participants has been admirable and effective in helping to move the talks forward in terms of keeping what’s -- the details of the discussions in the room within the room.
Q To reach agreement by their target date of the July 4th weekend, they’re clearly going to have to step it up more than just a notch.
MR. CARNEY: Okay, three notches. (Laughter.)
Q But you know what I’m saying, that this is --
MR. CARNEY: Look, I think they’ve stepped it up significantly, and they will continue to intensify the engagements. I assure you of that.
Q Thank you, Jay. If you listen to the Republican presidential debate, if you look at polling, if you listen to what people are saying on Capitol Hill, there seems to be little consensus for a substantial true presence in Afghanistan. Does that give the President some running room in calling for perhaps a substantial drawdown right now?
MR. CARNEY: The President doesn’t look at this decision in those terms at all. The President went through an exhaustive review of our policy in Afghanistan in the fall of 2009, where -- a very deliberate process -- where assumptions were examined, options were explored, goals were refined.
Out of that emerged the strategy the President announced in December of 2009; a strategy that had as its principal objectives the disruption, dismantling and ultimate defeat of al Qaeda, and the stabilization through the -- by breaking the momentum of the Taliban, the stabilization of Afghanistan so that it could not become a haven again for terrorists who mean harm to the United States and its allies.
We have made significant process towards achieving those objectives. The President outlined in his proposal in December of 2009 -- he said, beginning in July of 2011, we will draw down troops. The pace and slope of that drawdown will be determined by conditions on the ground, and the conditions obviously include an assessment of how far we’ve come towards achieving our objectives. And we have made progress.
So, again, the points you made may or may not be true. The fact is he’ll make this decision based on his assessment of the accomplishments that have come from the execution of the policy and what is in the best interest of further success in that policy.
Q Thank you. The Russians said today that they are still expecting a visit from President Obama by the end of the year. They are preparing for this visit. Is the White House preparing for such a visit?
MR. CARNEY: I personally am preparing for this visit. (Laughter.) I mean, if my boss can’t make it, I’ll go. (Laughter.) But I don’t have a scheduling announcement for you or announcement about potential trips abroad. Obviously the President has been to Russia already and looks forward to going again, but I cannot tell you with any precision when that will be.
Q What’s holding it back -- the substance of the discussions, bilateral discussions, or the politics of a pre-election period?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I don’t know that anything’s holding it back. Obviously he has an incredibly busy schedule and other -- we’ve had some substantial foreign travel already this year. We have some other trips that potentially we might have to make because of a variety of commitments that the United States has.
But there is nothing to my knowledge in terms of bilateral relations that would hold up a visit at all. The President felt that his meetings with President Medvedev in France were excellent and that the relationship is very strong.
Q And lastly, I understand that the Vice President extended an invitation for Prime Minister Putin to come over. Is anything being prepared on that score, do you know?
MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any update on that.
Q It’s a question in reference to that March 7th Blue Room meeting with the Wall Street executives the President had. In the interests of transparency, given that it was a DNC-organized event, would the White House disclose how many similar DNC-organized meetings the President has engaged in on -- in the recent term?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think that, as you know, we are very transparent about the DNC events he has. The --
Q Yes, but I’m asking specifically --
MR. CARNEY: -- participants in this --
Q -- about the White House.
MR. CARNEY: -- I mean we have a WAVES release policy that will -- when they are released, will encompass visitors to the White House, including the visitors who are here on that day. Having a DNC- or RNC-sponsored event is extremely common for Presidents of both parties going back many administrations.
Contrary to the suggestion on a website when this story was reported, this was not a fundraiser. And it is wholly understandable why the President would want to consult with business executives about their ideas about what to do in terms of economic policy and business policy going forward, including financial sector policy. So -- and the fact that they’re supporters is -- obviously, he would want to talk to his supporters about that, as well.
Q So is it -- are you saying it’s proper, it’s completely proper for the President to have these types of DNC-organized --
MR. CARNEY: Absolutely.
Q -- meetings within the White House?
MR. CARNEY: I am, indeed. Yes.
Q And you have no -- so the answer is no to the question --
MR. CARNEY: And totally precedented.
Q Okay. Do you have any comment on Mitt Romney’s joke yesterday about being -- that he’s unemployed along with millions of Americans?
MR. CARNEY: I have no comment on that.
Q Jay, two quick questions. On Greece, the situation in Greece, to what extent does the administration have concerns today about the ripple effect in the U.S. and abroad? And --
MR. CARNEY: Well, we welcome the determination of Prime Minister Papandreou and the Greek government to take the difficult steps necessary to guide Greece through its financial challenges. We support the government and the people of Greece in their efforts to get through these current difficulties and put their country back on strong financial footing by improving competitiveness and continuing with necessary reforms. We continue to believe that it is fully within the capacity of the Europeans to handle this situation, and expect that they will.
Q But related to the ripple effect, does the President believe it’s --
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think we’ve said that obviously this kind of situation creates some headwind globally for the economy, as other things do, like energy prices. But we continue to believe that the Europeans will be able to deal with this appropriately. And we commend the Greek government on the steps they have taken and urge them, together with the EU and the IMF, to continue down the path of the necessary reforms that need to be taken.
Q Can I ask -- can I ask --
MR. CARNEY: Sorry -- I’m sorry. Follow up, and then I’ll get to it. Yes.
Q So I wanted to ask a separate question. You were talking yesterday about the President being a constitutional lawyer himself and weighing in on this interesting issue about the War Powers in general. Can you remark on the President’s learning curve as someone who came from the legislative branch, which has been unusual in our history in more recent years, to the executive, and what he has learned about his constitutional executive powers that he didn’t perhaps recognize before as the legislative branch?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I’m sure that there is much that he has learned about the executive branch. I think that would be true of anybody who becomes President. It’s not a job that there’s a lot of training for or experience that’s similar to.
So I don’t -- I haven’t had a discussion with him about the -- especially as it relates to the War Powers resolution about a different perspective you might have. I think that the point I was making yesterday is that we do not believe that -- as a legal matter, that the -- our engagement in this mission meets the hostilities threshold set by the War Powers resolution and therefore it does not apply, does not need to be invoked.
So it’s not a -- we’re not questioning -- this is not -- we are not making an assessment on the constitutionality, the President is not, through this legal reasoning, because we do not believe it applies.
Q Jay, what do you read into the Senate votes on ethanol, and particularly the Republican votes there, and whether there’s a signal that a large portion of the Republican Party, or at least some of them, are not keeping taxes off the table, or new revenue off the table?
MR. CARNEY: Well, it’s an excellent question. I think -- I would make the point that I have in the past that we do not support full repeal of that subsidy but we do support reform of it in a way that lowers cost, because that is -- our broader commitment here, our broader approach towards our energy policy, is to invest in alternative sources of energy, biofuels being one of them, as well as pursuing greater fuel efficiency and increasing domestic production of energy sources.
So I did -- I think it is interesting to note that the vote itself is a recognition of the fact that there is spending in our tax code that can be addressed, and I think it’s the kind of spending that exists with the subsidies to oil and gas industries, for example, and I think that -- it’s a useful point. I mean, it’s certainly an interesting observation.
MR. CARNEY: Yes, sir.
Q Two questions, thank you. One, millions of Indians are demonstrating throughout India against corruption, against the corrupt Indian politicians who has trillions of dollars outside India in Swiss banks. My question is, one, they’re asking the presidential involvement -- I mean, help them -- because Swiss banks are holding money from -- stolen money, including maybe from many terrorists, used against the United States, and combating terrorism. What I’m asking you -- how President can help to bring that black money from the Swiss banks and around the globe?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I’m not familiar with the issue, and I’m not sure that I have a statement for you about the President’s attitude towards it. It might be something you’d take to the State Department.
Q And second, as far as Osama bin Laden’s killing took place in Pakistan is concerned, Pakistan’s military chief, Kayani, is under pressure from within his own party involvement and Pakistanis. My question is, does President still believe that there are more terrorists inside Pakistan, and they still have a ISI link?
MR. CARNEY: What I can tell you and say is what I’ve said in the past, that we understand that this is a complicated, complex relationship, but it is an important relationship. Pakistanis have been partners often in the fight against terrorists. More terrorists have been killed on their soil than anywhere else. And we strive to continue the cooperation that we have had with Pakistan and we engage at many levels with our counterparts in the Pakistani government, and we’ll continue to do that.
Q And may I just follow one more on Afghanistan, please?
MR. CARNEY: Real quick, yes.
Q What now, as far as the statements and announcement from the U.S. and NATO, that withdrawal will take place? But now, many think tanks and, including also India and many Afghans, feel if U.S. leaves Afghanistan, Taliban will come back.
MR. CARNEY: The policy of the President is clearly stated, and I would just make the point that the beginning of the drawdown of the surge in July of 2011 will happen. As outlined in Lisbon, the full transfer of security lead to the Afghans occurs in 2014. So that’s my response to that.
Let me get in the way back. Yes. And I’ll get to you, Connie.
Q Hi, sir. This morning a man with a suspicious package and reportedly some al Qaeda literature was arrested near Pentagon. And my question is, after the killing of Osama bin Laden, it has taken a while for this kind of thing to emerge. Do you consider it’s a success of the antiterrorism effort, or do you consider you have more work to done -- more work to be done because this thing took place? Thank you.
MR. CARNEY: Because which thing took place?
Q Overnight, a man with a suspicious package and reportedly some al Qaeda literature was arrested near Pentagon.
MR. CARNEY: I would refer you to the FBI and the Park Police. There were no dangerous materials or explosives found. And any more information about that incident, I would refer you to the FBI and the Park Police.
Connie. Last one. I promised Connie.
Q There’s a story about threats to American hotels. Do you have anything on that?
MR. CARNEY: I’m not aware of that. I don’t have anything on that.
Q And on Pakistan, is it true that the U.S. has withdrawn a request for another $2 billion to Pakistan?
MR. CARNEY: I’m not aware of that either, Connie. Sorry.
Q And can I ask --
MR. CARNEY: Sure, if you want to come up --
Q Can you do the week ahead?
Q Can I ask you one more?
MR. CARNEY: Oh, I’m sorry, I always do this on Friday. I do have a week ahead. Let me do this for you.
On Monday and Tuesday, the President will attend meetings at the White House.
Q What meetings? (Laughter.)
Q Put them on the schedule.
MR. CARNEY: He’s attending meetings. They’re on the schedule.
On Wednesday, the President with greet Asian American and Pacific Islander community leaders at the White House.
On Thursday, the President will travel to New York City and attend DNC events.
On Friday, the President will travel to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to highlight the importance of manufacturing to the United States economy, as well as key steps that government, industry, and universities will take together to create new industries and new jobs. The President will discuss the need to focus on cross-cutting technologies that will enhance the global competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing and speed ideas from the drawing board to the manufacturing floor.
Q Jay, before you go --
MR. CARNEY: That is your week ahead. Jake.
Q One year ago, the administration declared this last summer the beginning of recovery summer, so its one-year anniversary. Obviously the economy is not fully recovered, some thinking it’s even going in the wrong direction. Do you guys have any comment about the --
MR. CARNEY: Well, I would say, in that time, in the last six months, there have been more than a million private sector jobs created; in 17 months, so five months beyond that one-year mark, more than 2.1 million private sector jobs.
So the fact is that recovery is taking place. Growth is happening. It is not enough. I remind you that when we took office, the economy was in freefall. There was fear of a global depression. There was a contraction in the economy of greater than 6 percent quarterly. There was a loss of jobs at a pace of 700,000 a month.
So the point being, when we remind people of where we were, is that while we are not where we want to be, we are in a better position now than we were in January of 2009 by far. And we continue to work every day to increase job creation and promote economic growth, because the hole that was dug by the recession, by the financial crisis, by the -- some of the misguided policy decisions of the previous decade is a deep one. And we’re climbing out of it, and we continue to work hard to climb out of it.
Thanks very much.
Q Happy Father’s Day, Jay.
MR. CARNEY: Happy Father’s Day to all fathers.
END 1:32 P.M. EDT