White House Says ‘It’s Not About Blaming’

By Fred Lucas | September 11, 2012 | 3:05 PM EDT

President Barack Obama greets people during a campaign stop at Florida Institute of Technology's Charles and Ruth Clemente Center in Melbourne, Fla., Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/The Daytona Beach News-Journal, David Massey)

(CNSNews.com) – The White House says President Barack Obama is not blaming anyone for the high unemployment rate that has persisted since he came into office, even though the president and other Democrats have consistently used the term “inherited” to explain the current state of the country on fiscal and economic problems.

During the White House press briefing Monday, a reporter asked, “So does the president blame Republicans for the unemployment rate still above eight percent?”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney did not give a direct yes or no answer, but referred to what happened before Obama took office.

“It’s not about blaming,” Carney said. “We know that the country was in economic free fall when he took office, that we were shedding jobs at an alarming rate -- 700-, 750-, 800-thousand jobs per month. That’s a fact, and that continued -- because the recession was in full bloom when he took office -- and it continued into 2009.

“Once the president’s policies -- having been enacted by Congress, acted on by the president -- began to take effect, that free fall was halted and we have been gradually pulling ourselves out of the hole created by the recession,” Carney added.

On Friday, the Department of Labor announced that the unemployment rate stood at 8.1 percent, marking 43 consecutive months of unemployment above eight percent. When Obama came into office in January 2009, the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent.

In the last three months, Carney used the phrase “inherited” seven times when speaking to reporters, according to transcripts. In the month of July, Obama used the term “inherited” three times referencing the Bush administration when delivering remarks.

On July 25 in New Orleans the president said, “I inherited a big deficit, and we've got to now bring it down. But we can't bring it down just on the backs of the poor. We can't bring it down on the backs of the middle class.”

On July 16 in Cincinnati, Obama told the audience that Republicans did not want him to succeed, and explained that their thinking was, “If we cooperate with him, then he'll get credit. So we're better off just saying no. And if we do that, then over time folks will forget the mess he inherited and we can go after him, and hopefully, that'll help our politics.”

On July 14 in Glenn Allen, Va., the president told a crowd, “After a decade of irresponsibility, where I inherited a trillion-dollar deficit, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”

On Friday, Sept. 7, Carney told reporters on Air Force One, “And one of the things that we heard President Clinton explain in a way that only he can, the kind of policies that were in place in the 1990s, including the tax rate for higher-income Americans that President Obama believes we should turn back to, produced a remarkable period of economic growth -- more than 23 million jobs, a situation where our deficits were eliminated and he passed on to his successor, George W. Bush, budget surpluses that were predicted to last as far into the future as we could see.

“Eight years later, the president -- this president inherited from his predecessor the largest deficit in history, an economic calamity; the prospect of a great industry, the American automobile industry, liquidating; substantial more job loss associated with that; the potential for global collapse of the financial market,” Carney added.

During a White House press briefing on Aug. 30, Carney said the recovery act and other measures by Obama helped reverse the downward trend, and again used “inherited.”

“And people who criticize those choices, I think, the responsible thing to do would also then explain the choices that they made or the policies that they supported that helped lead to a situation the likes of which none of us had ever seen in our lifetimes: two wars paid for -- put on a credit card, supported by the people making these charges; massive tax cuts that disproportionately benefited wealthy Americans that helped create a situation where the middle class was feeling squeezed and their incomes were stagnating or declining, unpaid for; a Medicare expansion supported by people making these criticisms, unpaid for; leading to a situation where President Obama, when he was sworn into office, inherited the largest deficits in our history only eight years after President Bill Clinton left office and bequeathed upon his successor the first surpluses in a generation.”

On Aug. 20, Carney told reporters, “It is a tax cut like that that -- two of them that helped create the sea of red ink that this president inherited from his predecessor in January of 2009.”

Carney said on July 27, “This president believes that as a matter of economic policy, it is an important point of discussion to note the difference between his position, which is that we ought to have a balanced approach where the wealthiest Americans, who have done extremely well, exceptionally well in the last decade, pay their fair share and that -- and that the high-end Bush tax cuts that contributed mightily to the deficit that he inherited not be extended and that that money be used to help bring down the debt and to invest where we need investments, in education, innovation and infrastructure.”

One day earlier, July 26, Carney said, “you mention the ruinous effects of the Bush tax cuts that those high-end tax cuts contributed to the record trillion-dollar-plus deficit that President Obama inherited when he came into office.”

On July 11, Carney said, “We cannot afford tax cuts -- extending tax cuts that over a decade would cost close to a trillion dollars, tax cuts that, you know, contributed to the massive deficit the president inherited when he took office in January 2009.”

On July 9, Carney told reporters that under Obama, the country has had 28 months of private sector job growth. He added, “If the situation that we inherited didn't result in the loss of more than 8 million jobs, if we didn't have a situation where in the fourth quarter of 2008, before this president took office, the economy shrank by nearly 9 percent. I mean, think of that.”

Last week at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, several speakers talked about the mess that Obama “inherited.”

On Thursday, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told delegates on the convention floor, “We need to do more to get the economy back. Now, we inherited from the Republicans the worst economy in 80 years. And we are -- been improving it over their objection and over their obstruction. But we'd like to move quicker.”

Also on Thursday at the convention, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) expressed similar sentiments, though it was in reference to foreign policy.

“Now, just measure the disaster and disarray that he inherited,” Kerry said. “A war of choice in Iraq had become a war without end, and a war of necessity in Afghanistan had become a war of neglect. Our alliances were shredded. Our moral authority was in tatters. America was isolated in the world. Our military was stretched to the breaking point, Iran marching towards a nuclear weapon unchecked, and Osama bin Laden was still plotting. It took President Obama to make America lead like America again.”

On Wednesday at the convention, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said, “President Obama inherited many crises, among the worst any president has faced, and in every case he has responded with optimism, with compassion, with courage.”

Also Wednesday at the convention, Austin Ligon, co-founder and former CEO of CarMax, said of Obama when speaking in the Time Warner Cable Arena, “When he took office, he inherited a massive structural deficit from his Republican predecessor, an economy in free fall and, most importantly for me personally, an auto industry on the verge of collapse.”

On Tuesday at the convention in Charlotte, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said, “No president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the Great Depression inherited a worse economy, bigger job losses or deeper problems from his predecessor. But President Obama is moving America forward, not back.”