White House press Secretary Jay Carney has the third worst job in the nation, right behind President Obama and John Boehner. It’s hard speaking for an administration hated by a third of people, about a person or a party hated by the other two-thirds. Sometimes, you can’t even answer a simple question without stopping to correct someone who wasn’t asked to speak in the first place.
But the nice thing about answering people who have no basis in reality is that, at the end of the day, you always have reality near at hand.
While answering a question a question from Reuter’s reporter Mark Felsenthal, Carney was interrupted by ABC’s Jonathan Karl. Karl and Carney have had run-ins before, but this time Carney had an instant fact-check on hand to shut him up. Felsenthal originally asked:
“Speaker Boehner said, this weekend, that there would be no increase in the debt limit without concessions from the President. Can you comment on that?”
“Contradicting a host of times when he himself said we would never default, Republican leaders in the House and Senate have long said that they would never allow us to default. Now we see the leader of the Republican Party on Capitol Hill saying he will not raise the debt ceiling if Republicans do not get what they want. That is highly reckless and irresponsible. It is astounding, really, if you think about it. On October 7, given how little time there is left, that the Speaker of the House is announcing to the world he will not allow a bill to raise the debt ceiling pass if Republicans do not get their specific demands –”
Karl interrupted, stating “That’s not what he’s saying, Jay, he’s saying it’s negotiable.”
After some back and forth, Carney turned to Mark Felsenthal, who asked the original question. “Mark, you asked the question. Why don’t you say what it is your understanding that the Speaker said?” Said Felsenthal:
“The speaker apparently said that it’s still the case that he will not raise the debt ceiling without concessions from the President.”
To which Carney added “And our position is, this is too important to demand political concessions in return for fulfilling the responsibility by Congress to ensure we pay our debts and do not default.”
What Boehner has said on the matter is fairly well-documented. While Boehner did imply that he was willing to open hostage negotiations, he also told George Stephanopoulos that a default “is the path we’re on.”
That directly contradicts his pledge on October 3rd that he would not allow the United States to go into default.
Not only that, but just today, Boehner took it a step further not only by threatening default, but by JUSTIFYING his threat of default.
He told reporters today that (paraphrasing) “NOT threatening default would be tantamount to “unconditional surrender.” Which is something that Republicans just aren’t willing to accept.
So, to sum up, Boehner’s thought progress has been as follows:
- “We just want to talk about it.”
- “Here’s our list of demands”
- “We don’t want to shut down the government”
- “Why won’t you give us SOMETHING?”
- “We had to shut down the government.”
- “We’d never allow the U.S. to default.”
- “We have to threaten to default, because we can’t surrender now.”
- “This is all Obama’s fault.”