Dissecting Friday’s White House Press Conference


On Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney engaged in the decades-long tradition his office follows of avoiding reporter questions and offering misleading answers. (These are also known as “press conferences.”) In the 50 minutes he engaged with reporters, he offered a variety of misleading statements and assessments that require some correcting.

(If you’re feeling terribly bored, or are a masochist, the press conference can be seen in full here, and the text is here.)

First, Carney was asked about the failure of the House’s version of the farm bill last week, and whether the failure “portends anything particularly unnerving for this White House as it deals with immigration, a budget cycle that’s still unresolved, and a debt ceiling vote later on this year?”

Carney’s response was pure partisan demagoguery, with a side of misleading commentary:

Well, I would say that there’s no question that the House has had a difficult time passing legislation in general.  But we believe when it comes to immigration reform that the kind of bipartisan progress we’ve seen in the Senate and the bipartisan work that we’ve seen in the House will, in the end, carry the day because it is the right thing to do for our businesses, for the middle class, for the economy at large, for deficit reduction — as the CBO has shown — and because as outside commentators, maybe even you yourself have noted, it’s ultimately in the interest of the Republican Party to do it.

Three things here:

First, the House has passed plenty of good legislation in the last 2.5 years that would create jobs, reduce regulatory red tape, reduce the federal deficit, etc. They’ve also kowtowed to the President on raising the debt ceiling on two occasions – including once earlier this year – and passed the bloated fiscal cliff deal. So the difficulty Carney is addressing should be changed to “The House is not bowing to President Obama’s wishes frequently enough.”

Second, the CBO’s deficit score is misleading. Its projections only go out 20 years, which means the real implications of amnesty on Social Security and Medicare aren’t being examined.

Third, it is never in the interest of the Republican Party to support amnesty. Amnesty didn’t help Republicans in the 1980s, and even having amnesty supporters Senator John McCain (R-AZ) leading the presidential ticket in 2008 only garnered 31% of the Hispanic vote, according to Pew Hispanic. If the GOP really wants to win Hispanic voters, perhaps it could stop pandering with amnesty and work on real solutions to the problems Hispanic voters told Gallup and Fox they cared most about in 2012: the economy and healthcare.

Later on in the press conference, Carney was again asked about the farm bill:

Does he think the failure to pass it is the fault of House Republicans?  Or does he reserve some blame for Democrats —

His response was typical Beltway-speak – a non-answer that really is an answer:

I think the numbers explain that story pretty clearly.

I guess Carney’s partisan blame game here is no surprise; he does work for a Democratic President, after all, and Washington is mostly a town where political jockeying is considered the most important thing in one’s career. Yet his comments ignore that barely one-quarter of the votes against the farm bill came from the House GOP caucus – most of them came from the President’s own party.

Furthermore, the White House is partly to blame for the way Democrats voted. By threatening a veto of the House bill before it was even finalized – it didn’t spend enough to please the President – the White House sent a message to House Democrats that voting against the farm bill was a-okay.

Finally, Carney spent a great deal of time talking about the President’s alleged commitment to border security. Yet the CBO report projected a drop of only 25% in illegal immigrants if the Senate’s bill (before Friday’s Corker/Hoeven amendment was introduced) compared to current expectations. Furthermore, the CBO expects visa overstays to be responsible for much of the influx of illegal immigrants – an area of immigration control the Corker/Hoeven amendment barely addresses.

In other words, the Corker/Hoeven is mostly expensive words with little actual impact on improving border policy. Its purpose is to give the President and amnesty-supporting Republicans political cover.

Tea Party Patriots doesn’t usually take the time to fact-check press conferences – there would be little time for anything else if we did – but with the farm bill and immigration “reform” taking center stage, it is important the American people know the real facts surrounding the partisan and misleading rhetoric coming from Carney.