White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today explained that when the White House calls for a budget proposal that is "balanced" it is not actually calling for a balanced budget.
Let me explain.
The White House has long called for a "balanced approach" to deficit reduction that would include both tax increases and spending cuts. Carney has often pointed out that the President put out a proposal last year that would include cuts to projected spending on both Social Security and Medicare as well as tax increases.
So, I asked Carney today if the White House expects - or hopes - that the budget to be released Wednesday by Senate Democrats would include the entitlement cuts proposed by the President. The exchange produced an unusual discussion of unbalanced balance and - for the first time, the White House said the President's upcoming budget will not be a balanced budget:
KARL: Do you expect - do you hope when the Senate Democrats release their budget tomorrow that it has entitlement reforms along the lines of what the president has proposed?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I will wait for the budget to be put forward, and Senator Murray to do that. We do expect it to be balanced, that - to have the principle of balance inherent in its proposals. If it's not - and I don't expect it will be - in agreement on every item of the president's proposal, it will be consistent with the president's balanced approach, we expect. …
KARL: When we say balanced, you don't mean balanced -
MR. CARNEY: I mean a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes asking everyone to pay their share.
Q: But it will not be a balanced budget -
MR. CARNEY: No, what the president's budget proposal will do, as his previous proposals have done, is achieve the economically important goal of bringing our debt-to-GDP down below 3 percent.