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Carney Questioned If White House Is "Manipulating" The Sequester

BILL PLANTE: There's a fairly widespread concern out there that the White House is manipulating the sequester on various fronts -- the FAA, Head Start --

JAY CARNEY: You mean widespread concern like among -- on the chat shows by Republicans? But beyond that --

Q Well, among Republicans and probably other people, too. You've got to give them some credit. It might not just be the Republicans.

MR. CARNEY: Well, I haven't heard anybody who has lost a slot in Head Start suggest that that's because anybody here wished it to happen. We’ve been pretty clear that the Congress needs to act. The fact that the Congress acted -- was able to act on the FAA demonstrates that this is a problem that Congress needs to solve. And we call on them to do it.

PLANTE: When people look at this, it becomes clear that it's simply a matter of reprogramming funds from one pocket to another, which means nothing to most people, and yet, average Americans are inconvenienced or worse by the sequester and find it difficult to believe I think in many cases not restricted to the Republican right that you couldn't do more about it.

MR. CARNEY: Well, Bill, I appreciate the question. And I think it's really important that reporters, when they report on the sequester, because it is complicated, lay out these facts clearly. Congress had to pass a law because it was not possible legally to simply reprogram funds. That was established clearly, which is why Congress had to act. The sequester was written in a way that makes that the case. Congress had to act. That's why Congress did pass the measure that has fixed the problem within the FAA.

The sequester was written in a way to make it bad policy, and that is why we are seeing the impacts that we have seen. What is also the case is that $80 billion-plus in cuts in seven months cannot be wished away through moving around some funds. As Secretary Duncan has said about funding for Education Department programs, the choice would be -- if that flexibility even existed -- do I help poor kids or do I help disabled kids?

That is not how it is supposed to work. That is not how policy should work. And that’s why Congress ought to do the responsible thing and eliminate the sequester by adopting the kind of broad, balanced deficit reduction package that the President supports and that the very American people that you’ve mentioned support.

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