Politics

Carney Defends Obama’s Partisan Speech

‘I understand some Republicans are trying to make something of this’

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked Tuesday if the White House now thinks the president’s speech on the economy, following the mass shooting at the Navy Yard should have been canceled. The White House is sticking by its decision to go ahead with the partisan speech, despite the public backlash. Below is a transcript of Carney's response:

REPORTER: Jay, I know Ed asked this yesterday, but you've had a day to reflect. Still a good idea for the president to give what was a very partisan speech yesterday, even after what happened over at the Navy Yard?

MR. CARNEY: Look, I understand some Republicans are trying to make something of this. The president spoke about the Navy Yard at the very top of his briefing. He talked about the cowardly act that had taken place — the tragedy that was unfolding and the loss of life, and he called for and demanded a seamless investigation with federal and local law enforcement officials, and that is what we're seeing now.

It is a fact that we have very little time for Congress to act, and the consequences for the American economy of Congress failing to act would be significant, and it is absolutely an important part of his job to talk about that to the American people. And far from being a partisan speech, the president made clear in his speech that many Republicans on Capitol Hill agree with him that we should not go down the road of threatening to shut down the government or defaulting on our obligations in the name of some partisan agenda item or partisan pursuit.

But unfortunately, there is a faction that many, including — and some op-ed pages have noted — conservative op-ed pages have noted are not doing a great service to their own party, let alone to the country or the middle class by pursuing this agenda.

So, you know, these deadlines are upon us, and Congress needs to act. Congress needs to fulfill its basic responsibility, which is to ensure that government functions are funded. Congress needs to fulfill its other basic responsibility, which is to ensure that it pays the bills that Congress racked up. That's what the debt ceiling is all about, and it's — you know, it's hard to break through, because it's afraid, that it just, you know, reeks of, sort of, Washington arcane, you know discussions — debt ceilings, raising the debt limit, that kind of thing.

But what it is is basically allowing Congress to pay the bills that Congress already racked up, full stop. Has nothing to do with future spending.

It has to do with the United States of America being true to its obligations.