The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Jay Carney aboard Air Force One, 5/14/2012

Aboard Air Force One
En Route New York, New York


10:40 A.M. EDT


MR. CARNEY:  Good morning, everyone.  Thanks for being here. Welcome aboard Air Force One as we make our way to New York City, where, as you know, the President will give the commencement address at a prestigious all-women’s college, a graduate of which we have in our presence as I speak. 

He looks very much forward to speaking to the young people there today about the challenges that they face, that we face as a nation, what we can do working together to overcome those challenges, and then specifically, what young women face -- the challenges they face, and observations he’ll make about how they can help shape the future that awaits them.

With that, I will take your questions.

Q    Jay, does the President thinks that if the Dodd-Frank provisions were fully implemented it could have prevented what we’re seeing right at JPMorgan?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I'll make two comments about that.  First, there’s an investigation into what happened at JPMorgan that the SEC is conducting, so I can't go into detail about the specific transaction or series of transactions that led to this loss.  What I can say is that this event only reinforces why it was so important to pass Wall Street reform and why it is so important to fully implement Wall Street reform. 

And as you know, the President fought very hard against Republicans and Wall Street lobbyists to get Wall Street reform passed.  He fought very hard to ensure that the Consumer Protection Bureau was part of it.  He fought very hard to ensure that the Volcker Rule was part of it, against a concerted effort to prevent that from happening.

Ever since it’s passed, there’s been millions and millions of dollars spent by Wall Street lobbyists to try to water down, delay and render ineffective the rules that need to be put into place.  The President has fought back.  And I think that this event merely reinforces why the President was right to take on this fight and why we still need to make sure it’s implemented.

Q    Does the President think that it shows that -- or the culture on Wall Street that led to the 2008 collapse -- that it still exists, that Wall Street still doesn’t get it?

MR. CARNEY:  I would say a couple of things.  We can't prevent bad decisions from being made on Wall Street.  What was so important about the rules that were put into place and are being put into place through Wall Street reform, the President’s Wall Street reform, is that we can prevent the taxpayer from bearing the burden of the mistakes that Wall Street makes.  And one important fact to note here is that those who are suffering losses because of what happened here are shareholders and the bank itself and not average Americans who had nothing to do with these transactions or this event.

So that is a very important development, because the President’s commitment was that we can't have it happen again where the failure of some banks or the reckless behavior of some individuals on Wall Street could cause the kind of financial crisis that we saw in 2008 and with all of its negative impacts on the American economy and the average American middle-class family.  That’s why it was so important to put these rules into place and why it’s so important to make sure that we resist the efforts of Republicans and Wall Street lobbyists to undo them.

I mean, it is amazing, given the events that we’ve seen in these last few days, that there are still those who want -- who are out there arguing that we should repeal Wall Street reform, that we should let Wall Street write its own rules again.  Those who take them at their word, bankers who say, oh, we promise that we’ll never let happen what happened in 2008, you can trust us -- well, look --

Q    What do you mean by "those"?

MR. CARNEY:  The President -- well, the many who still argue that -- who resisted the Wall Street reforms in the beginning and who resist it--

Q    Do you put Jamie Dimon in that category?

MR. CARNEY:  I’m not pinpointing or naming individuals or entities.  I’m simply saying that I think this is quite evident that -- this is strong evidence that having these rules of the road in place are essential to making sure that taxpayers don't get left holding the bag and that poor decisions on Wall Street don't undermine our financial system in the way that happened in 2008, and we have to remain ever vigilant. 

Q    -- one more time.  Any signs of concerns about contagion from these losses?

MR. CARNEY:  I would refer you to the Treasury Department.  That's beyond my level of expertise. 

Q    Has the President spoken with Jamie Dimon since --

MR. CARNEY:  I don't think so. 

Q    Is the President aware -- see the Newsweek magazine cover this week, and if so, does he have any thoughts about that?

MR. CARNEY:  I don't know that he's seen it and I haven't spoken to him about it. 

Q    I think in the past he's said that he's read Andrew Sullivan's blog -- have you seen the blog item, and what do you  -- what's your --

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I saw -- I did see -- I haven't read the story yet, but I certainly saw his incredibly powerful and moving blog post last week in the wake of the President's interview with Robin Roberts.  But I have not seen the story.  Look, I think --

Q    Do you have -- does the White House have a reaction to that cover?  I mean, does it minimize the debate at all or does it --

MR. CARNEY:  What we said last week and what the President said and what we've said all along about his firm commitment to the rights of all Americans and the rights of gay and lesbian Americans and the LGBT community is reflected in the support that he has in that community.  And that commitment has been incredibly strong from day one since he became President. 

And he'll continue to fight for the rights of all Americans and oppose efforts to deny rights to individuals or to discriminate against groups of individuals.

Q    Can you talk a little bit about the message that the President will be delivering to the Barnard graduates today?

MR. CARNEY:  Beyond what I said?  I'll let the President get into the specifics, but he'll talk about the challenges we face, in particular the challenges that young people and young women face, and how they can work to overcome them, we can work together to overcome those challenges.

Q    -- think of the ad that's out today?  It's from the campaign, but the President obviously gave his approval to it.  Can you talk a little bit about why he felt that now was the appropriate time to go after Romney and his record at Bain?

MR. CARNEY:  The question is about campaign tactics.  I will --

Q    But the President did give his approval to it. 

MR. CARNEY:  It was a question about why do this as a campaign tactic, and I'll refer you to the campaign for that.  I think the broader point that we've been making for several years now is that the primary objective that we have as an administration, the President has as President, is making sure that we take every step we can to protect the middle class, to build the middle class, and to grow the middle class in this country because that is so important to the economic future that we need to have. 

I think there will be a debate about what vision makes the most sense for the future of this country, and the President certainly believes that one that is focused on making sure everybody gets a fair shot and a fair shake, everybody plays by the same set of rules is one that is preferable and has a far better chance of succeeding than an approach that is basically -- that says to the middle class, you're on your own, that the best approach here is to double down on the policies that led to the worst recession since the Great Depression, to not just extend tax cuts for the wealthy that were put into place in the years before the great recession but increase those tax cuts for the wealthy, at the expense of the middle class, at the expense of seniors, at the expense of investments in areas like education, innovation, infrastructure.  He just thinks that's wrong.  And you'll be hearing, I'm sure, a lot from him in the coming weeks and months as he makes that case.

Q    Do you have a readout of Brennan's meeting in Yemen this weekend?  And what were some of the military ideas that came out of that?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I don't have specifics for you, but, yes, John Brennan did visit Yemen and met with a variety of officials from the Yemeni government, and reiterated our firm support to Yemen, both political, economic and military support.  We obviously have a keen interest in working with the Yemeni government in the fight against extremism there, and that was certainly part of the discussion.  But the relationship is broader than that.

Q    Yesterday, Senator Lieberman said that he will hold hearings on the Secret Service scandal.  I'm wondering if the White House believes that is necessary to have -- and especially to have the director, who has not spoken in public about this, answer to the public and say something about this -- and also whether you've seen the report that they've delivered -- that's not been made public -- to Congress about their own investigation, whether you're satisfied. 

MR. CARNEY:  I'll have to -- I haven't personally seen the report.  I don't know that we've seen the report.  But the -- and I don't have an observation to make about whether or not holding hearings -- obviously oversight is important and we wouldn't suggest otherwise. 

Q    I mean, the Secret Service is -- they're done with their investigation.  Are you confident that this won't happen again, that this is --

MR. CARNEY:  I think the President and I have made clear that we feel very strongly that -- the President feels strongly that inappropriate behavior where it took place needed to be investigated and needed to be dealt with.  But he has, whenever asked, made the point that he believes that the vast majority of members of the Secret Service, the men and women of the Secret Service perform their job professionally, with great dedication, and do so in order to help protect our democracy, and not just the lives of Presidents and their families but, in doing that, they perform a great service for our democracy.  But I don't have --

Q    Do you have a view on whether hearings are necessary?

MR. CARNEY:  Again, I certainly think oversight is -- properly conducted, is valid.

Q    There have been reports coming from Russia that the President will be skipping the APEC summit there in the fall.  Can you confirm that?  And do you worry at all about the perception that the relationship with Russia is getting a little tense there with Vladimir Putin back in power?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I've addressed it a little bit in the past.  The President spoke with President Putin and will be meeting with President Putin at the G20 in Mexico and looks very much forward to that.  The fact of the matter is we have a comprehensive relationship with Russia that's built on working together in areas where we agree and that has borne significant successes, that approach, and then be very clear about where we disagree but not letting those disagreements undermine the overall relationship. 

And that was true under President Medvedev when Vladimir Putin was prime minister, and it will continue to be true now that Mr. Putin has returned to the presidency and Mr. Medvedev is now prime minister.

Q    Can you confirm he's skipping --

MR. CARNEY:  I'm not aware of any foreign travel that we’d be taking, with the exception of the Mexico trip, before November, but I’ll have to take the question.

Q    Any reaction to the latest uncertainty in Greece?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I would simply say what I’ve said in the past, which is that Europeans are capable of dealing with this eurozone crisis.  They’ve taken some very important steps.  They need obviously to take more.  And we are in regular contact and consult regularly with our counterparts in Europe both at the presidential level, but also certainly at the level of the Secretary of the Treasury.

Q    Thank you.

MR. CARNEY:  Thank you.

END
10:53 A.M. EDT

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