Politics

‘Where is the plan?’ Carney says Obama’s is the best-known debt plan

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that President Obama’s debt ceiling plan is the best-known option at this point. There’s just one problem with that: No publicly available, detailed Obama plan exists.

“There is no plan that has been offered, certainly in the last several months, about which more detail is known or has been specified than the Obama-Boehner plan, okay, in terms of the cuts in domestic spending, both defense and non-defense discretionary; the savings coming out of entitlements programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security; the kind of tax reform that was envisioned and the mechanisms by which tax revenue would be a hard thing for Republicans to accept but was part of the deal — that would be $800 billion, that would be part of this proposal,” Carney said. (RELATED: New WH talking point — Boehner is the Grinch, and he’ll steal your Christmas)

What Carney was referring to is the negotiations Obama and House Speaker John Boehner were conducting behind closed doors. No written plan ever came out of those meetings, and the two political leaders never reached an agreement. Boehner went on to develop his own plan.

After learning of Carney’s declaration of confidence in his boss’s plan, Senate Republicans struck back at Obama. In a web posting, the Senate GOP asked of Carney’s statement: “Where is the CBO score? Where is the text? Where is the plan?”

The Daily Caller reported Wednesday that Obama has been able to avoid making political enemies inside the Democratic Party by keeping his plans and proposals limited to negotiations behind closed doors. Not informing the public about specific plans or proposals he supports or opposes can help him minimize political damage.

Carney appears to confirm that sentiment. As for why Obama hasn’t been specific with what he supports and opposes, Carney said it’s politically smarter to remain vague.

“If you lay out a proposal that’s politically — by yourself that’s extremely politically hard for your party, whether you’re Republican or Democrat, it’s like putting a clay pigeon in the air,” Carney said. “It’s ensuring its defeat. And that’s — and maybe that’s a sad statement, perhaps, about how Washington works, but it’s an incredibly realistic statement about how Washington works.”

More confusion about what specifically White House officials are referring to when talking about Obama’s plan ensued later on Thursday. In a White House Twitter chat Thursday afternoon, Obama administration officials tweeted out a link to what they call the president’s debt ceiling plan. Instead of linking to the “Obama-Boehner” plan Carney referred to mere hours before, the link directs to an April 13 White House “Fiscal Responsibility” fact sheet. The fact sheet does not use the term “debt ceiling.”