White House Press Gaggle by Jay Carney Aboard Air Force One, September 27, 2011

En Route Denver, Colorado–(ENEWSPF)–September 27, 2011 – 11:39 A.M. PDT

MR. CARNEY: Good morning still, West Coast time. How are you all? I’m personally in mourning, having witnessed both the Red Sox and the Redskins lose yesterday. Very, very bad night.

I don’t have any announcements to make except to say that we’re glad to have you with us as we make our way to Denver where the President will speak at a school about the need to pass the American Jobs Act. He will speak specifically about the provisions within the Jobs Act aimed at modernizing and rebuilding schools across the country, which is good both for the people it puts to work and for the children who learn in our schools, and we’ll have better schools for it.

With that, I will take your questions.

Q Any specific reason why Abraham Lincoln High School?

MR. CARNEY: We may be handing out more information, but, I mean, in terms of what work might have been done on that school, I’m not sure. We’ll have to get that for you.

Q Jay, any reaction to the latest complaints from the Pakistani Prime Minister about the U.S. statements on its relationship with the ISI?

MR. CARNEY: I think we’ve been very clear about our views on this. One, that the Haqqani network was responsible for the attacks on U.S. embassy in Kabul and then ISAF, as well as some others, and that the Pakistani government needs to take action to deal with the things that exist there.

We work very closely with the Pakistanis and have had success due to that cooperation in fighting al Qaeda. As I’ve said in the past, their country is — in many ways, no country has suffered more at the hands of terrorists than Pakistan. So this is a — there is a common enemy here.

Q I mean, will the United States take any action if the Pakistani government fails to sever ties with Haqqani?

MR. CARNEY: We obviously are always reviewing our aid programs. I believe the State Department and others have talked about that. I don’t have anything new to add on that except that we obviously take it seriously and discuss these matters with our Pakistani counterparts.

Q Does the White House have any response to the new announcement of 1,000 — or 1,100 settlements in East Jerusalem?

MR. CARNEY: Yes. The administration of the United States government is deeply disappointed by that announcement. We have maintained all along that each side in the dispute between the Palestinians and the Israelis should take steps that bring them closer to direct negotiations to resolve the issues that stand in the way of Palestinian statehood and a secure Jewish state of Israel.

When either side takes unilateral action, it makes it harder to achieve that. We make our views known, just as we did, obviously, with regard to the Palestinian action at the United Nations.

Q Jay, was that a surprise?

MR. CARNEY: I’d have to refer you to the State Department, but I’d say that we’re disappointed by it.

Q The Palestinians say that this is a direct repudiation to the Quartet statement. Is that the U.S. view?
MR. CARNEY: I would only characterize it the way I have, which is to say that we’re disappointed and that we have called on both sides to take steps that improve the prospects of direct negotiations getting underway because, in the end, the only way forward is through direct negotiations that result in the two-state solution that both sides seek, one that allows for a sovereign Palestinian state and a secure, Jewish state of Israel.

Q Jay, there was a ABC News report that Libya is missing about 20,000 surface-to-air missiles. Do you know anything about that or have anything on it?

MR. CARNEY: We have, as I think I’ve mentioned before, worked closely with the TNC in — as well as NATO — in investigating and dealing with the issue of conventional weapons in Libya. I think I may have more on that here. The potential for conventional weapons proliferation from Libya has been an issue of concern for many years. Since the beginning of the crisis, we have been actively engaged with our allies and partners to support Libya’s efforts to secure all conventional weapons stockpiles, including recovery, control and disposal of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, also known as man-portable aid-defense systems, or MANPADS.

We’re exploring every option to expand our support to the leadership of Libya’s Transitional National Council, which has assured us it will meet all of Libya’s international commitments. We welcome the TNC’s recent formal request for support and we will work to ramp up our support effort in the coming weeks. A State Department expert is on the ground in Libya working with the TNC to develop a MANPADS control and destruction program. We’ve also deployed five additional contractor specialists in explosive ordnance disposal tasked with supporting the TNC to secure, recover and destroy MANPADS and conventional weapons.

We expect to deploy additional personnel to assist the TNC as they expand efforts to secure conventional arms storage sites. We are also working with NATO to provide all known locations of weapons stockpiles so that the TNC can secure all sites and materials.

These steps build on our activities since April, including $3 million in aid to MAG International and the Swiss Foundation for demining, who have been on the ground working with the TNC at surveying and securing bunkers, clearing landmines and destroying unsecured conventional weapons, including MANPADS, and two, our consultations with regional governments and our international partners to build a coordinated approach to this shared security problem.

Is that long enough for you?

Q What did you just say? (Laughter.) What was the —

MR. CARNEY: I’m aware of the report, but we’re obviously — we’ve been concerned about this, and I don’t have any response specifically to the report itself.

Q And who was it that was looking into it? Was it State Department that said —

MR. CARNEY: Well, there’s a State Department official on the ground. There are additional personnel, contract personnel on the ground. And we’re obviously, at a governmental level, both the State Department and at the U.N. and elsewhere, working with the TNC on this.

Q I just wanted to ask you a couple things about the event we’re going to. The Republicans are saying — Boehner’s office in particular — in a memo in the last couple of weeks to the House Republicans that President — part of this new proposal is to spend $30 billion retaining and hiring teachers, but that in ‘09, the first stimulus package at that time, I think $53 billion were spent on sort of similar sort of hiring and retaining public servants, and here we go again. How is this going to work? Why do we have to do this again if it didn’t work the first time, is what they’re trying to —

MR. CARNEY: Well, as they know well, unless they choose to ignore entirely the data that exists, that the element of the Recovery Act that provided direct assistance to states kept thousands and thousands of teachers at work, as well as other public employees — policemen, firemen and others.

The fact is, as you know, during the recovery, since growth returned to the economy, we’ve created over 2 million private sector jobs. The job loss that we’ve seen this year has been in the public sector, and it’s precisely because of the kind of cuts that we’ve seen, and a lot of those cuts have been teachers.

So, I mean, if they’re saying that it’s not a problem that states are shedding teachers from their payrolls, it’s not a problem for the future of our education system, for the education of our system, let alone for the people who are losing their jobs, they should say so, because, in fact, providing that assistance does put teachers back to work during this challenging time in our economy. And the point is to get those teachers back to work, to create the value they do for the education of our children, as well as to the bottom line in terms of employment as we try to push the economy forward, get it growing faster and getting it creating jobs faster. It’s a measure that’s absolutely essential.

And they should — what is yet to be made clear by House Republicans is what exactly they oppose in the jobs act. Do they oppose tax cuts for working Americans, everybody who pays payroll tax? Do they oppose tax cuts for small businesses? Do they oppose proposals to — incentives for small businesses to hire or to increase wages, incentives for businesses to hire veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan? Do they oppose building roads and bridges, improving our infrastructure, which puts people back to work and creates the value of a better infrastructure for the 21st century for this economy? And do they oppose putting teachers back to work and first responders? And they should say so if they do.

Q If this package does not pass, this $30 billion they don’t get for the teachers, I mean, do you expect thousands of more layoffs over the next year, two years?

MR. CARNEY: The program is designed to put teachers back to work. Obviously the economy is not creating enough jobs, and while it has continued to create private sector jobs thus far, we’ve seen jobs lost in the public sector. And that’s a concern in terms of employment and in terms of the specific jobs that are lost because of the long-term need to improve our education system, which is very hard to do when you’re laying off teachers.

Q Speaking of Congress, any more reaction to the one-month extension that it looks like Congress is going to go through for government funding?

MR. CARNEY: I’ve said all along this was a basic function of Congress, that we found it inconceivable that they wouldn’t be able to resolve it. And fortunately they have.

Q — the President has been going around the country asking people to pressure Congress to pass this. Do you have any evidence that that’s having any effect on Congress?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I would simply say, going back to my response to Dave, that the fact that while there is criticism coming in at different angles, you don’t see opponents on Capitol Hill come out and say forthrightly that they’re opposed to hiring teachers, they’re opposed to putting construction workers back to work, they’re opposed to building roads and bridges, renovating schools, opposed to giving tax breaks to working Americans or small businesses — tax incentives to small businesses to hire and expand the payroll. And I would say that’s because they know that their constituents want these things, as data overwhelmingly demonstrates.

So we understand that Congress will not take action just because the President says they should. Congress will take action, we hope and believe, because they’re hearing from their constituents that this is the number-one priority of the American people.

We need to get this economy growing faster. We need to get the economy hiring and creating jobs at an accelerated pace. There’s no higher priority. And we can do that. The President has laid out a vision that includes taking these short-term measures to strengthen the economy and create — help to create jobs and meeting the long-term measures to get our fiscal house in order.

That’s the kind of comprehensive plan we haven’t seen yet. I haven’t seen any proposals — we haven’t seen, you haven’t seen any proposals from Republicans on Capitol Hill that will put people back to work now.
Q But if anything there seems to be more opposition now to the jobs act then right after it was released. So what does that say about the effectiveness of the President’s message?

MR. CARNEY: I’m not sure that’s true. Let’s see what actions Congress takes. And I think it’s incumbent upon members of Congress who suggest they would vote against it to explain why.
Q David Plouffe said on the weekend he expects the Senate to move forward legislation in October. Do you have any indication from Democratic leaders in the Senate when in October they’re going to bring legislation to the floor?

MR. CARNEY: Well, that’s the expectation we have. For a specific date you’d have to ask the Senate Majority Leader or the Senate leadership.

Q Who indicated that intention to you?

MR. CARNEY: It’s just our understanding. We go to them for — they run their calendar and their schedule, so — and they’ve obviously been busy.

Q The campaign sent out an email the last couple of days saying the President would call people who donated certain amounts of money. Does he make any of those calls from Air Force One?

MR. CARNEY: Not that I’m aware of. But you’d have to check with the campaign. I don’t know about that.

Q Thank you.

Q Thanks a lot.

11:53 A.M. PDT