Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 8/23/2012
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
August 23, 2012
Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 8/23/2012
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
12:12 P.M. EDT
MR. CARNEY: Good day, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for being here. I have no announcements, so let's get started.
Associated Press -- Ken.
Q Thanks, Jay. Governor Romney's campaign is promoting a number of steps on energy today. Some of the goals that they're laying out are creating more than 3 million jobs through increased energy production, energy independence by 2020. Does the President think that some of these goals are feasible?
MR. CARNEY: Well, what the President believes is that we need to pursue a policy that embraces a bold and robust all-of-the-above approach to energy. And what we know is that the policy the President has pursued has led already to the doubling of production of renewable energy from sources like wind and solar since the President took office. We know that under his leadership and during his presidency domestic production of oil and gas -- natural gas -- has increased, and our reliance on imports of foreign oil has decreased to its lowest level in I think something like 16 years.
And I think what distinguishes the President's approach, all-of-the-above approach to our energy future from the Republican approach is that the Republican approach is essentially one that is written by or dictated by big oil and focuses almost entirely on oil and fossil fuels.
This President believes we need to embrace all forms of domestic energy production, including oil, including natural gas, including nuclear energy -- which, as you know, this administration has invested in for the first time in 30 years -- including renewables like wind and solar. And while the Republican approach denigrates forms of energy like wind, this President believes that investing in renewable energy is essential to enhancing our energy independence.
And I would note, as the President did last week, that I think Congressman Ryan has called wind energy a fad, and I think maybe Mitt Romney -- Governor Romney called it imaginary. This is a narrow view and a dangerous view if you think about how important energy security is and domestic production of energy is to our national security interests.
So this President will continue to push for an all-of-the-above energy approach that ensures that we aggressively pursue domestic oil and gas production, that we aggressively pursue renewable energy production and make the investments necessary to secure our future.
Q Some of the components include increased drilling off the coast of Virginia or Florida, increased energy production on federal lands. Is there -- does the President think there’s a place in an American energy policy for some of these ideas that Governor Romney is proposing today?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I can tell you that, as you know, Ken, under the President, we have increased production on federal waters and lands. The administration just finalized a plan that will build on the millions of acres we have made available for production offshore in the last year alone by making 75 percent -- 75 percent of offshore resources available for production.
I think, again, if you look at the President’s record, he has been very aggressive in pursuing ways to increase domestic production of energy. He has done it also in a way that is mindful of the need to produce in a safe and reliable fashion.
One other point that I would note is that, again, representative of the President’s approach, all-of-the-above approach on energy is that we have now more coal miners employed in this country than we have had in the past 15 years.
So this President believes that America’s national security and energy independence depends on a complete all-of-the-above approach. And it depends not on focusing solely on domestic oil and gas production and big oil, and insisting on continuing oil and gas subsidies while ending, for example, the production tax credit -- the wind energy tax credit that is so important to the development of the wind energy industry in this country, as the President talked about last week and which, as you know, his opponents in this election oppose, despite the fact that Republicans in key states where wind energy is important support extending that wind energy tax credit.
Q Thanks. So I wanted to ask you about the report yesterday from the CBO about the fiscal cliff, which said that Americans should expect a significant recession and 2 million job losses if the spending cuts and tax hikes go through. We’ve heard you say that the President believes in a need for a balanced approach to resolving this question and that Congress needs to act because it’s an important one. What I wanted to ask was whether you anticipate any kind of formal process to get that rolling ahead of the election, maybe similar to what the Vice President led on the Hill last year, or if the President is comfortable or thinks it’s more practical to wait until after the election to do so.
MR. CARNEY: I think the President has been ready and remains ready to come to an agreement on a balanced approach to our fiscal challenges at any time that Republicans demonstrate a willingness to accept the simple proposition that, in addition to spending cuts and in addition to entitlement reforms, revenue has to be part of it, as the Simpson-Bowles commission made clear, as the Domenici-Rivlin commission made clear, the Gang of Six and every other bipartisan group that has looked at this has made clear. Unfortunately, Republican intransigence, their insistence that millionaires and billionaires get tax cuts, has prevented the completion of an agreement on a balanced plan.
What we do know, however, going to the CBO report, is that the single biggest component of the so-called fiscal cliff is the middle-class tax cuts that Republicans and Democrats all agree ought to be extended. The Senate passed a bill that extends these middle-class tax cuts -- tax cuts for 98 percent of the American people. The House ought to do the same. And just by doing that, we could alleviate some of the concern about the so-called fiscal cliff -- which should not, regardless, take any pressure off Congress from the absolute need to act, but it should demonstrate to the American people the ability of Congress to come together and pass something that everyone says they agree on and the President agrees on.
So, again, that would -- that is the single biggest component that makes up the so-called fiscal cliff. If they pass that tax cut tomorrow, that would go a significant way towards alleviating concerns about the fiscal cliff.
Q But I think given everyone is very busy campaigning and so on, and the absence of a formal setting to discuss it --
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think the President told you earlier this week when he stood right here that it is -- he recognizes the fact that because Congress I believe will be in town for less than two weeks between now and the election, that significant progress with Congress may not be all that likely.
There are things, however, that Congress absolutely must do -- steps to ensure that we pass a continuing resolution that the government continues to function, there are no threats of shutdowns, and other things they can do. But they could also -- because so much work has been done on it already and the Senate has already passed it -- they could pass this tax cut in a moment’s notice. The House could do it when they come back and demonstrate to the American people that there is a seriousness of purpose here when it comes to recognizing the need to address some of the issues that were presented by the CBO report yesterday.
Q And so just a final thing, just to clarify -- so then the idea is then after the election will be the time to address the rest of the fiscal cliff?
MR. CARNEY: I think the President is open to -- and has said so -- any indication from Republicans that they are willing to drop their intransigence on this fundamental issue of whether or not we will move forward with a balanced plan. Because it’s not just a point of argument and it’s not just well, the President believes we have to have a balanced plan and these bipartisan commissions all believe we have to have a balanced plan, every expert out there who’s independent believes that that’s the right approach.
The reason why everyone agrees on this is because the consequences of not having a balanced plan are embodied in the Republican budget proposal, which in order to achieve the kind of deficit savings that are needed, would unfairly burden America’s seniors by voucherizing Medicare, and cause huge reductions and investments in education and innovation, research and development -- the kinds of things that are fundamentally important to our further economic growth in this century.
So we don’t need to pursue that. We don’t need to ask seniors to pay $6,400 a year -- per annum -- unless we believe that the right approach is to adopt a Republican plan that asks seniors to pay $6,400 a year, on average, extra to cover their health care costs because we’re voucherizing Medicare so that we can pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. That’s not sound economic policy. We can’t afford it. We don’t need to do it. We need a balanced plan.
Q Thanks, Jay. It was announced this week that Cardinal Timothy Dolan will be delivering a prayer at the RNC, and I know that he’s someone that the White House has reached out to on various issues. Do you feel it’s appropriate that he be speaking at the Republican Convention, or do you have any feelings on how it might affect the working relationship with the Cardinal or the association he represents moving forward?
MR. CARNEY: I think there’s a tradition of religious leaders giving prayers or invocations at conventions. I don’t see a problem with that.
Q I also had a question -- there’s some article circulating around DHS and the FBI about some possible anarchist activity at both the RNC and the DNC. I know this is probably something that should be handled by the law enforcement community, but is there advice that the White House is giving to members who live -- residents who live in the area or anything that -- in relation to activities who aren’t attending the convention?
MR. CARNEY: I’m not aware of the reports that you mentioned, and certainly it wouldn’t be for the White House to issue law enforcement guidance. I would point you to local law enforcement officials as well as federal law enforcement.
Q And finally, I know that this is -- I think you were asked about this earlier in the week, but there’s been a push from the online Homebrewers Association for the White House to release its beer recipes. I believe there are three, at least, White House beers brewed here. Does the White House have any plans to release its beer recipes? (Laughter.)
MR. CARNEY: Not that I’m aware of. It’s true that -- (laughter) -- it’s true I don’t always bring water out here. (Laughter.)
Q The paper cup.
MR. CARNEY: Yes. Not that I’m aware. I think the President and First Lady were asked about this a little bit in an interview last week, which I believe is published or broadcast, about how the White House beer came about. But I don’t -- I’m not aware of any plans at this time to --
Q What about transparency? (Laughter.)
MR. CARNEY: -- divulge the secret recipes.
Q I believe there have been Freedom of Information Act filed on this issue. (Laughter.)
MR. CARNEY: I’ll have to take the question -- examine it, taste it. (Laughter.)
Q The Congressional Budget Office report is a pretty dire warning about what this nation faces, and yet I didn’t hear the President mention it yesterday. Is there a reason why?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think I put out a statement, which is the White House’s view and the President’s view. The President talks every day that he’s out there, as he was yesterday, about what we need to do to help build our economy, help it to continue to grow, help it to continue to create jobs. And yesterday and the day before, he was focusing on the need to continue investments in education because he firmly believes that education is a matter of our economy, that it is an economic issue, and --
Q I understand, but that’s not really what the Congressional Budget Office was addressing. They were talking about --
MR. CARNEY: No, no, sure, about the --
Q But I heard the President -- yes, the President talked about education, he talked about Todd Akin, he talked about Michael Jordan, he talked about a lot --
MR. CARNEY: Well, and he talks, as you know, all the time about what we need to do specifically to help the economy grow and create jobs, and his belief that we need to take a balanced approach to address the kinds of fiscal challenges that are necessary. I mean, the so-called fiscal cliff that the CBO report addressed, as you know, is being brought about by a vote of Congress, with bipartisan majorities in each house, to enact the Budget Control Act, which the President signed into law, which is --
Q Sure, but he’s not an innocent bystander here. He’s the President of the United States.
MR. CARNEY: No, I’m not suggesting he is.
Q I guess here’s the question: Do you think the President is showing as much economic leadership on this issue as he could be?
MR. CARNEY: Yes. And I think that what I talked about in answer to an earlier question is that, look, we recognize that there is an enormous debate, a big conflict between the President and the Republican leadership in particular over whether or not we need to extend and, in some plans, give even greater tax cuts to the top 2 percent of American earners, the most well-to-do Americans. That debate is unlikely to be resolved between now and the election. The President talks about how in many ways the voters will help resolve it by the election.
But what we can agree on -- and this goes right to the issue of the fiscal cliff -- is that we should absolutely extend tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans and 97 of American small businesses tomorrow, or the day that Congress gets back. And that would demonstrate to the American people and to people around the world that despite our differences on some very important issues, we can come together and do the practical thing and the sensible thing to help our economy grow, to avert some of the concern over the so-called fiscal cliff.
And I think that would give people a lot of reassurance about the capacity of their leaders in Washington, after the election, to continue to address the challenges and to ensure that we don’t have to -- that the sequester does not come about -- because it was never designed to take effect. It was designed to be so onerous that it would force action, and hopefully that will take place.
But what we do know is that we agree on this: The middle-class tax cuts -- which I think this is a little-known fact -- are the single biggest component of the so-called fiscal cliff. If we pass that, that would have a very positive impact on both -- in the raw number sense, but also I think psychologically, because it would demonstrate that Washington is willing, despite the partisan differences here, to do the right thing by the American people and by the American economy.
Q So why isn’t the President on Capitol Hill telling --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m not aware that anybody is up on Capitol Hill, but the President’s position --
Q Why isn’t the President talking -- even talking about this?
THE PRESIDENT: He has -- he talks about this frequently. He talks about it all the time. I mean, he was focusing on education the last couple of days, but numerous speeches in the last several weeks he talks very much about -- I mean, you saw him repeatedly talk about the need to extend middle-class tax cuts. And he’ll continue to do that. I’m standing here today speaking for him and for the White House and the administration, talking about the need to do that. And we would welcome in a heartbeat a willingness by Republican leaders in the House to schedule and pass -- schedule a vote on and pass an extension of the middle-class tax cuts.
And then we could all agree that our differences on the remaining 2 percent remain, that we don’t agree on that issue, and that that might have to be dealt with after the election. But if we took that action on the 98 percent, it would demonstrate a seriousness of purpose, and it would be very helpful to both the American people who would have that assurance and certainty about their tax cuts -- 98 percent of the American people -- and to the economy writ large.
Q I wanted to follow up on the energy question. Why do you and the President continue to refer to it as an all-of-the-above energy approach when there are certainly components that Republicans are pushing for that you reject, such as the Keystone pipeline or other things?
MR. CARNEY: Well, first of all, the Keystone pipeline is a -- we haven’t rejected anything. It’s a process that’s underway at the State Department that was delayed for two reasons: one, because of concern by folks in Nebraska, including a Republican governor, about the original proposed route; and then because of Congress’s -- the House Republicans’ insistence on including it as part of the payroll tax cut extension. That is a specific issue.
The all-of-the-above approach is -- as you know, this administration has approved other pipelines, including transnational pipelines. It has approved expanded drilling, both on water and on land, federal and public. It has approved --
Q But you mean types of energy, you don’t mean --
MR. CARNEY: Well, I don’t mean that every single project imaginable that would require some sort of federal approval has necessarily. But every form of energy has enjoyed the very aggressive support of this administration, and that includes nuclear, wind, solar, and biodiesel and, as you know, oil and gas.
Q Can I just follow up on Jake’s question on CBO saying we might be on the verge of another recession? To his point, with nothing on the President’s public schedule today, why no meetings at all with congressional leaders? He hasn’t had meetings with them in weeks if not months.
MR. CARNEY: Ed, I think you know that congressional leaders have been -- Republican leaders have been very clear that they will hold hostage tax cuts for 98 percent of the American people to their insistence that millionaires and billionaires get tax cuts, too. They could change their mind about that, agree with not just the President and not just Democrats, but the vast majority of people -- and my guess is 98 percent would like to have their tax cut next year -- if they simply said, okay, let’s agree to disagree on the 2 percent, let’s pass the 98 percent -- let’s get it done. And that would, in a single stroke, address a significant portion of the concern about the so-called fiscal cliff. It would not entirely deal with it, but it would have a significant impact.
And the President was out there and will continue to be out there calling on Congress to take action on the middle-class tax cut, extending it for 98 percent of American taxpayers. And I think that, hopefully, Republicans will, for two reasons -- one, because it’s the right thing to do for the economy and for the American people, and two, because of political pressure -- reevaluate their position, take advantage of the few days that they’re actually back in Washington, when they are back, to pass this bill that we all agree should be passed and made law.
Q The President himself has previously said, why raise taxes on people during an economic slowdown? And so, while you’re talking about the ones for the middle class and the 98 percent there, there is still -- the Republican view has been again and again that you say they’re hardened on is that if you raise taxes on the wealthy then you’re going to add to the economic slowdown. So we know what their view is, we know what your view is. My question is, why are they not in a room trying to negotiate, which is what Presidents and leaders normally do?
MR. CARNEY: Well, look, I think what -- again, we are clearly at loggerheads when it comes to the top 2 percent. We are in total agreement when it comes to the 98 percent. It stands to reason that we should be able to agree on what we agree on and then continue to debate on what we disagree on. And it is I think unhelpful to the economy and certainly not useful for the American people to insist that 98 percent of you won’t get a tax cut unless the top 2 percent of the well-to-do Americans get a tax cut.
And in terms of the President’s position on this, you know his position. It’s been his position for a long time. The fact of the matter is -- and economists will tell you this -- that a tax cut for middle-class Americans has far greater positive economic impact than a tax cut to people in the top 2 percent. They don’t necessarily spend it and inject it back into the economy. It just does not have the same macroeconomic impact.
And when you’re weighing what we need to do to help the economy grow as we deal with our deficits, we simply can’t afford to spend that extra trillion dollars over what would be 10 years, potentially, on another tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of the American people.
I mean, here’s the thing. Some of the very leaders in Congress today, Republican leaders in the House, stood before us -- I was a reporter then -- and declared on the eve of the vote for the Clinton budget, the Bill Clinton budget in 1993 that raised marginal tax rates on wealthier Americans, that it would cause a recession if they passed that bill and signed it into law, that it would cause economic decline, it would cause job loss.
I think we can all agree that they were wrong -- because what we got instead was sustained economic growth, significant job creation -- 23 million, 24 million jobs, and the only time in our lifetimes when the budget has been balanced. And millionaires and billionaires coined at a rapid pace.
So the President’s position is you have to have a balanced approach. We need tax cuts for the middle class. We can’t afford tax cuts for the wealthiest.
Q Last thing. Does the White House have a view on this book by a Navy SEAL who is going to come out and talk about the bin Laden raid? The book is going to be published I believe on the 9/11 anniversary. There seems to be some concern at the Pentagon and the CIA that somebody who’s got that kind of intimate knowledge is going to put it into a book. Does the White House share that concern?
MR. CARNEY: Well, as I think one of my colleagues here noted yesterday, we were unaware of this book until yesterday and the press reports about it. So I don’t know what’s in it, and would refer you to the Defense Department, since it’s apparently or supposedly written by someone in the military or retired. But I just don’t know anything else about it.
Q Jay, thanks. The New York Times is reporting today that this administration has close ties to Exelon, which may have helped foster greater access to the upper reaches of this administration, may have been proven helpful in terms of securing some grants and loans. Do you have a reaction to this report? Is it a fair report?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I would say a couple of things. The truth is that Exelon has a long history of supporting politicians of both sides of the aisle. And as you -- most of your who have covered the rule-making process, you know that these decisions on grants are made on the merits. And as Cass Sunstein said in the story, it would be a huge mistake to draw any link between the number of meetings that OIRA, the agency that he headed until recently, holds with outsiders and the outcome of any rule. In fact, OIRA meets with any entity that asks for a meeting. That is there policy. And for the standards listed, OIRA also met four times with the Sierra Club, three times with the American Lung Association, and three times with the American Academy of Pediatrics.
So, again, it is standard policy at OIRA to meet with anyone who asks for a meeting who has an interest in any of these issues that come before OIRA.
Q Does the assertion, though, create a negative optic for the President as he heads into kind of the final stretch --
MR. CARNEY: I think the President's support for an all-of-the-above approach to energy and to renewable energy is an issue in this campaign. It's one that he's proud to have be an issue, as you noted when he was out in Iowa last week and has spoken about elsewhere. He firmly believes that our energy future in this country will be more secure, and therefore our national security will be enhanced if we pursue policies that expand domestic oil and gas production, that aggressively invest in and expand renewable energy sources, that make investments, as this administration has, in nuclear energy -- that this is the way -- this is an approach that we have to take.
And obviously Republicans have made an issue of this and it is one that he is very happy to debate.
Q But this story doesn’t necessarily call into question his views on an all-of-the-above approach, but more so his ties to --
MR. CARNEY: My reading of the story, the story simply said -- the big assertion in the story is that people from this company had meetings at OIRA. And what I'm telling you is that any entity that asks for a meeting with OIRA, that has an interest in or is a stakeholder in any of these standards or rules, gets a meeting. So I'm not sure what the issue is, frankly.
Q And, Jay, I just want to ask you -- yesterday, Josh Earnest said of Ban Ki-moon's visit to Iran to attend the meetings there, that he hopes that he will encourage the Iranian regime to live up to their international obligations. Has the White House encouraged the Secretary General to directly voice this concern with the Iranian regime?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I don't know if that conversation has taken place. I think that what Josh said yesterday -- and I'll reiterate today -- is certainly our position, and it is well known, which is that we believe that the Iranians use this kind of forum for propaganda purposes and we would ask participants to take advantage of that forum to press upon Iran the need to abide by its international obligations or face further isolation and further sanctions for refusing to abide by their international obligations.
Scott -- and then, Roger.
Q Two things, Jay -- one, do the differences between the administration and the GOP on energy also extend to the demand side?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I don't know about demand, per se. But one thing I did not bring up -- one step this President took, standing with the CEOs of more than a dozen automobile companies, was to raise fuel-efficiency standards, double them over the course of a number of years.
Now, that will have a tremendous impact not just on Americans and their pocketbooks and wallets in terms of the cost of fuel and how much they spend on it, and that will be significant savings for the American people -- it will also enhance our energy independence by reducing our demand on oil and, therefore, demands for foreign oil imports.
And I think leading Republicans, let's say, have been very critical of this decision, despite the fact that it was reached in agreement with -- voluntarily by more than a dozen automobile manufacturers.
Q And also, did the CBO report yesterday tell us anything about the fiscal situation that we haven't known really since the super committee failed?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think it -- they make periodic revisions. And I think that they have now taken into account since the last time they looked at this all the economic data that has been provided and what's happened in the economy since. But I don't think that it tells us anything surprising in the sense that we know we have to take action to address our fiscal challenges in a balanced way.
We know we need to take action to ensure that the so-called sequester doesn't take effect. And it requires a little will and backbone by Congress to agree to the fundamental premise that is widely supported around the country that we need to tackle these issues in a balanced way. And at least prior to that, even as we acknowledge that we will debate some of these issues beyond the election, we can take action immediately to pass the tax cuts for 98 percent of the American people that would go a significant distance down the road towards addressing the fiscal cliff.
Q Ken mentioned this at the top, but I wanted to get a little further. One of Romney's energy plans today has to do with giving states control of oil and gas on federal lands. What does the President think of that?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I'm not aware of that specific proposal and I'm not, frankly, as steeped in the details in terms of how these processes work. I know that this President has aggressively expanded oil and gas production in this country, but in a way that he believes protects the health and safety of our lands and waters and, of course, of the American people. And he'll continue to do that.
Q I guess I was getting at the state --
MR. CARNEY: I'm not aware of that particular provision in the Governor's proposal.
Q Jay, I want to ask you some questions about Isaac as it relates to Haiti and as it relates to the United States. The United States, along with the world body, are working to try to fortify, rebuild Haiti, and Haiti is right in the path of Isaac. What is this administration doing as it relates to preparing for Haiti with Isaac's approach upon the country?
MR. CARNEY: Well, right now the administration through FEMA has been in close contact with local officials and emergency managers in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as the Florida Emergency Management Agency. And, obviously, that's because these are American lands and territories.
We are monitoring the storm -- FEMA is and NOAA -- and are very mindful of the suffering that Haiti has endured because of the earthquake, and will I'm sure be prepared to assist Haiti if it does suffer under this hurricane. But I think we need to step back and acknowledge that we don't know what direction the hurricane -- or the tropical storm, if it becomes a hurricane, will take.
And I think I saw Administrator Fugate on television discuss this and say we need to make sure that everyone who could potentially be affected by the storm, whether it's in Puerto Rico or the Florida Keys or anywhere on other U.S. coastland, be prepared and make sure they're paying attention to updates on where the storm is and how strong it is and where it's headed. And FEMA is working very closely with all the appropriate agencies to do that.
Q But you understand why I ask about Haiti, because Haiti is still trying to come back just to the basic piece of where they were before they had that massive earthquake. And you still have people living in camps. I mean, Haiti is still --
MR. CARNEY: I completely appreciate the question and agree with the assessment of Haiti -- what it has endured and what its vulnerabilities are. Perhaps the State Department can help you with more on what Haiti might be doing to prepare for a potential storm. And, again, I'm not briefed well enough to know what the odds are that Haiti would be affected.
Q But does the President still get updates on Haiti, even though I mean we're several years out now from the earthquake? Does he get regular updates on Haiti?
MR. CARNEY: I would have to take the question. I know that he does periodically from the NSC and the director within the NSC that has that -- has Haiti within its area of responsibility. But I couldn't tell you when the last time he got an update on it was or the situation there.
Let's see, all the way -- yes, in the back. Sorry, almost in the back, three from the back.
Q Thank you, Jay. The President has understandably been talking a whole lot about education and the economy. But we haven’t heard much about the plan for the next four years for the war in Afghanistan. And so I guess I wanted to ask a two-part question. First of all, what is the plan for the next four years? And, second of all, there's some chatter that the reason it hasn't been discussed is because Governor Romney and the President essentially agree.
MR. CARNEY: Well, I can't speak for Governor Romney. I think that he has been critical of what the President has made very explicit is his strategy and his policy in Afghanistan, which is, having kept his promise to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home, he has refocused -- he refocused attention on the effort in Afghanistan, which, after all, we entered -- U.S. troops entered because of the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. He refocused attention. He plussed-up our forces there. He developed a strategy that made clear that our number-one priority, the reason why we are in Afghanistan, is because of al Qaeda, and that our number-one objective for our mission in Afghanistan is to disrupt, dismantle, and ultimately defeat al Qaeda, and that all other objectives that are secondary to that help support the primary objective.
As part of the very detailed proposal that he's put forward and that has been endorsed by our ISAF partners, we are now beginning to draw down U.S. forces from Afghanistan. And that process continues. And as you know, by 2014, we will have fully transferred security lead to Afghan security forces. And this President believes that's the right policy. It's his policy. And I would refer you to Governor Romney for Governor Romney's policy, if he has one.
MR. CARNEY: Dick.
Q Jay, does the White House have any comment about the lawsuit filed today by immigration agents in federal court in Texas, trying to stop the President's non-deportation policy?
MR. CARNEY: I'm not aware of it. I'd have to take the question. And it's probably one that the Department of Justice would take.
Q Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin is going to be the Democratic nominee running for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin. It will be historic if she wins because she will be the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate. It looks like she is facing an uphill battle against Tommy Thompson. Will the President campaign with Tammy Baldwin in her state?
MR. CARNEY: I have no campaign announcements, scheduling announcements to make on behalf of the President. The President himself has an election, as you know, in a few short months. But I have no campaign announcements to make.
Q Do you have anything to say about the significance of Tammy Baldwin's candidacy, though?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think it is very significant. I think that what is most significant is that someone qualified, like Ms. Baldwin, is running for that office and would make an excellent senator if elected.
Thank you all very much.
12:55 P.M. EDT
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