President Obama has often talked about the need to reduce the budget deficit. Before his run for the presidency, Senator Obama was rather harsh in his criticism of George Bush's deficits. And in July 2011, during the debt ceiling crisis, the president even addressed Congressional leaders in a talk the White House titled "President Obama on Deficit Reduction: “If Not Now, When?” During the talk, he said:
We keep on talking about this stuff and we have these high-minded pronouncements about how we've got to get control of the deficit and how we owe it to our children and our grandchildren. Well, let's step up. Let's do it. I'm prepared to do it. I'm prepared to take on significant heat from my party to get something done. And I expect the other side should be willing to do the same thing -- if they mean what they say that this is important.
Based on Jay Carney's remarks at Monday's press briefing, the president has conceded that the GOP does "mean what they say that [deficit reduction] is important." Carney was responding to a question about Organizing for Action's (OFA) attempts to influence policy, and even took issue with a reporter's characterization of OFA as a "partisan group." During his answer, he said:
I mean, there’s nothing partisan about deficit reduction. In fact, you might even say it’s more of a priority for Republicans than Democrats.
While this difference in the parties' priorities may not come as a shock to most observers, the admission was a rare moment of candor from a press secretary who is adept at portraying his boss as holding the high ground on virtually every policy issue. As the White House has committed to release a budget shortly, Republicans will be poised to hold the deficit reduction position the White House has ceded and use it to pull the president in their direction.