Who’s Really ‘Threatening Default’? Carney Spars with ABC’s Jon Karl Over Gov’t Shutdown

At Tuesday’s briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney ended up “turning the tables” on ABC News’ Jonathan Karl during at heated exchange over the potential for a government shutdown. Carney suddenly realized he was the one asking the questions when he repeated, over and over again, “Who has the power to raise the debt ceiling?”

Carney began by referencing the “all-out civil war within the Republican Party” that so many outlets have been reporting on, in which a minority faction of the party is forcing the leadership into threats of a government shutdown, or of a default on the country’s debt.

Karl pressed Carney on the question of whether the White House is essentially “giving up” in the face of this Republican pressure. “Are you actually talking to Republicans?” he asked, even if the president thinks they’re being “completely unreasonable.” If President Obama’s position, as Carney has indicated, is that he “will not negotiate over the debt ceiling,” Karl asked, “how is that tenable?” If that’s true, he said, then “you’re threatening default.”

This led to Carney’s question: “Who has the power to raise the debt ceiling?” When he didn’t get the answer he was looking for, he answered his own question. “The Congress has the power to raise the debt ceiling,” Carney said, before joking that he likes “turning the tables” on reporters when he can’t “get a direct answer.”

All Republicans have to do, Carney said, “is do what they’ve done hundreds of times before, and raise the debt ceiling.” He said it’s not “new spending” and “doesn’t add a dime to the deficit,” but will simply allow Congress to “pay the bills that Congress has already incurred.”

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[photo via screengrab]

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