Let's see if you can make heads or tails of this vacuous jumble of words from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney:
The question is extremely simple: If Congress agrees to meet the president's demands and hike the debt ceiling without any preconditions, what dollar figure and/or time frame would the president like to see in the legislation? Increasing the debt ceiling isn't a hypothetical or symbolic action. It involves extending the government's ability to borrow a finite amount of money -- you know, actual dollars and cents. Carney doesn't even try to answer the reporter's basic and reasonable question; instead, he reverts back to mindless repetitions of Obama's exhortations for Congressional action. Yeah, we got all that, Jay. Your boss prattled endlessly about it on Monday. So what's going on here? I see two possibilities:
(1) Carney was caught off-guard by the simplest of questions and honestly didn't know the answer, so he tossed himself up a meaningless word salad and made a mental note to get that information for tomorrow.
(2) The White House has made a calculated political decision that high-ranking administration officials should avoid saying the dollar amount on camera. Explicitly talking about trillions in new borrowing authority may not necessarily be the soundbyte they want floating around as as they try to downplay the severity of the nation's debt crisis. The president seemed to adopt this approach when he David Letterman asked about the specific size of our national debt prior to the election.
If Carney can't or won't answer this strikingly basic question in the coming days, we'll have our answer.