Policy: Economy

Five years later, journalists challenge White House 'economic crisis' excuse

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,White House,Charlie Spiering,Economy,Jay Carney,Dan Pfeiffer

On "This Week," ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl challenged White House press secretary Jay Carney over the knee-jerk excuse that administration officials give when they are asked about the bad economic numbers.

During the interview, Karl showed a clip of Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., reminding his audience that seven million more Americans are living in poverty today who were not in poverty when President George W. Bush was leaving office.

"I assume Senator Scott didn't notice that, you know, a lot of people were thrown into poverty by the worst recession since the Great Depression, which was in full bloom when President Obama was sworn into office," Carney replied, after Karl asked him to react.

"But the president has had five years, Jay," Karl replied. "Five years. And the — the economic crisis is in the rear-view mirror. The Bush years are in the rear-view mirror. And he hasn't been able to turn this around. Doesn't the president bear some responsibility — his policies — for the fact that the poverty rate in America has gone up and the gap between rich and poor is only greater?"

Carney's only defense was to suggest that the problem of economic inequality was bigger than one president.

"What I can tell you, Jon, is that the — the problem and the challenge the president has identified has been one in the making for over 30 years," he said.

On Fox News Sunday, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer was asked a similar question by Chris Wallace.

"You talk about income inequality — some experts say the real reason that you got such income inequality is because of the weak Obama economic recovery," Wallace announced, pointing out that median household income has dropped, poverty has increased, and participation in the labor force has dropped.

"Well, absolutely," Pfeiffer replied. "But I think it's important to remember this president inherited the worst economic situation through the Great Depression, a financial crisis."

"But the recession ended four years ago," Wallace replied.

Pfeiffer cited numbers of jobs created, the booming domestic oil industry and the recovery of the auto industry as indicators that Obama was actually doing a good job.

"I think we made tremendous progress. But there is much more work to do. The president always said that," Pfeiffer replied.

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