White House pushes back against criticism ahead of Obama’s jobs speech

White House spokesman Jay Carney put on the full-court press Thursday in anticipation of Obama’s primetime jobs address before Congress, pushing back against criticism the president had no new proposals and was preparing to score political points against Republicans.

Carney appeared on a number of early-morning news shows to promote the speech and reveal that the president planned to introduce specific legislation called the American Jobs Act.

{mosads}While Carney kept mum on exact details of the president’s proposal, the plan is expected to cost between $300 billion and $400 billion and contain a mix of tax cuts and infrastructure projects.

The White House spokesman emphasized that the president’s plan would be deficit-neutral, implying that spending increases would be matched with cuts and tax increases.

“Congress can do this now, it’s fully paid for,” Carney said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

But in a combative interview on “Fox & Friends,” Carney avoided questions about whether those cuts and tax increases would be revealed in Thursday evening’s speech or proposed later in the legislative schedule. Carney also sparred with host Gretchen Carlson over the president’s decision not to accept Republican leadership’s request for a meeting before the speech.

“The president has met with the leadership of the House and Senate more in the past couple of months than perhaps any president in history … look, the president is going to work with Congress,” Carney said.

Carney again confirmed that the White House would be seeking an extension of the payroll tax cut as part of the plan, and told MSNBC that “everything the president puts forward in the American Jobs Act has had bipartisan support in the past.” He also said that the president would seek funding for school and road construction.

The White House spokesman also pushed back on the idea that the package would not include new proposals.

“The American public will hear a lot of new and innovative ideas that they haven’t heard before,” Carney said.

In addition to previewing the speech, Carney took the opportunity to fire some pre-emptive shots at congressional Republicans as the White House gears up for the battle to push the jobs package through the legislature.

“Gridlock and inaction isn’t just annoying, it’s harmful and dangerous,” Carney told CNN’s “American Morning.”

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