Briefing Bites
Jay Carney briefs the White House press corps for the first time on Wednesday
February 16th, 2011
03:15 PM ET

Briefing Bites

After a wish of good luck from President Obama, Jay Carney, a former White House correspondent for Time magazine, got his first taste of the other side of the podium on Wednesday as he conducted his first briefing in the James S. Brady briefing room.

While reporters welcomed him to his new role, there was no easing into anything as questions from a wide range of issues – both foreign and domestic in nature – were thrown his way immediately.

Here is a sampling from Wednesday's briefing:

On the tone of the conversation with Congress over the President's budget proposal:

Look, the president has made clear, I think, as he did yesterday, that he takes very seriously the need to reduce spending in
the near term. That's why his budget proposal does things like cut $400 billion over 10 years, to reduce spending, to get not just
spending but the deficit, which is very important.

But he also understands that there needs to be a conversation about a long-term debt, and that needs to be, as he said, an adult
conversation where reasonable people from both parties sit down and talk about this major challenge that we face and ways to - to deal with it.

And I think that needs to be - if we're going to succeed to get there, it needs to be civil and it needs to be reasonable. And I
think as he said, that each side needs to be willing to give. That's what compromise is all about.

And remember, last December we saw - we have a template for how this can work, where people thought agreement couldn't be reached, both sides got together, each side gave a little bit, neither side got exactly what it wanted, but the president and the Congress were able to achieve something in the interests of the American people that will help grow the economy, create jobs, make us more competitive in this very competitive 21st century.

On whether the White House worries about a possible government shutdown:

I would say that, you know, it is our understanding that not only does the president not believe that a government shutdown is a good idea, but that leaders of Congress in both parties obviously want to avoid that. And we believe that we can work together to prevent that from happening.

So, you know, that's - that's what we think - you know, that's an important position to take. We - you know, we think that we can get there and avoid a problem like that.

On whether there is a worry the Egyptian military will fail to cede power to a democratically elected government:

Well, look, there have been - there have been a number of positive signs in the very few days since this transition in terms
of the top leadership took place. But our position, in terms of what needs to happen, the constitutional reforms, the lifting of the emergency law, the release of political prisoners, that - those positions still pertain.

And obviously we are watching closely and advising and assisting where we can.

But also I would point to you that this is an Egyptian process. The amazing events that occurred over those 18 days were
driven by the Egyptian people from all stripes - you know, from all corners of society who went out on the streets to air their grievances and make demands for more democratic representation and - and to be able to participate in the process and - and to create greater prosperity in Egypt.

And we support the Egyptian people now just as we did then, because I think they have made clear that they want a democracy and they want free and fair elections. And we are, obviously, as on this today as we were in the last - the previous three weeks.

On whether entitlement reform is possible before the 2012 campaign ramps up:

The president is very confident that if we get together with both sides, members of Congress, the president, that something can be accomplished.

And he has - he believes that the approach he's taking by putting forward a budget that is serious about the need to reduce
spending, but is also serious about the need to continue to promote economic growth and innovation and infrastructure - you know, building for the future and educating our children, that he has created - you know, helped create an environment where we can have these conversations in a productive way.

So I think his - his seriousness about this issue is - is very clear and he wants to work together with members of both parties to
get there.

On what type of access the White House press corps should receive:

There are no hard-and-fast rules. I think that we're committed to providing access and we're also committed to - to getting the work done here that the American people expect us to get done.

But let me just say, I mean, I - I understand where you come from, literally. And, you know, I want to work with you, and all of
you, to - to get the access that we can give and that you need.

Topics: Briefing Bites • Jay Carney

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