Carney struggles with questions on public equity


White House press secretary Jay Carney struggled with questions on public equity in his Tuesday press briefing, after being challenged on how his justification for the government-loan program for energy differs from Mitt Romney’s on private equity.

REPORTER: Has the administration done a good job of making decisions about who to invest in, about where to invest?

CARNEY: Look, I think the program as created under the Bush administration and pursued by this administration, has always acknowledged that not every company invested in would necessarily succeed—that is why companies like that needed investments, in order to scale up, to allow them to grow and succeed. Not all of them would grow and succeed. The portfolio as I understand it, contains a number of companies that are progressing and succeeding. Again, if the suggestion is that the United States should wash its hands of these investments, you all need to assess that for what it means, which is saying: “The Chinese can have these industries; the Brazilians, the Europeans, the Indians can have these industries, and we’ll simply import that technology—just like we’ve been dependent on foreign oil.” I think that is a wrong-headed proposition.

REPORTER: Last thing, if that is the argument, how is that different from Romney’s argument about Bain Capital, which is that many succeeded and a few failed?

CARNEY: Look, there is the—the difference in that your overall view of what your responsibilities are as president and what your view of the economic future is. The president believes, as he’s made clear, that a president’s responsibility is not just to those who win, but those who, for example in a company where there have been layoffs or a company that has gone bankrupt, we have to make sure those folks have the means to find other employment, that they have the ability to train for other kinds of work, and that’s part of the overall responsibility that the president has.