It’s a simple question: When did President Obama know that death benefits for military members would not be paid?
That simple question did not get a clear or simple answer from White House spokesman Jay Carney.
CARNEY: You have that skeptical look on your face, Jon.
ABC’s JON KARL: I’m always a little skeptical, Jay. (Laughter.) On this question of families of those who have lost loved ones serving our country, you said that the White House knew that this problem would be there in the event of the shutdown and –
CARNEY: The Department of Defense informed Congress, so Congress knew about it. Yes.
KARL: Yes, so Congress knew about it, the White House knew about it. The President is the Commander-in-Chief, he’s the Chief Executive. Was there literally nothing that he could do to ensure that these families were taken care of? I mean, I –
CARNEY: He’s doing it today, Jon, because it was not addressed by Congress in the Pay Our Military Act. It was not –
KARL: Did he ask Congress to take care of it in the Pay Our Military Act? I mean, were there any discussions there?
CARNEY: Jon, the Republicans shut the government down. None of this would be an issue if the government were open.
KARL: I understand.
CARNEY: Okay. Two, the Department of Defense, as every agency did, warned Congress of the myriad consequences of shutdown. This is one of those consequences. And unfortunately, it was not explicitly addressed in the Pay Our Military Act. I’m not assigning blame for that, but it wasn’t. The President learned that this had not been addressed. He directed the OMB and his lawyers to find a solution, and they’re working on that and we expect one today.
So I don’t think there’s any disagreement that this is a matter that needs to be resolved, that it’s unthinkable that these benefits would not be available. And therefore, he’s doing the right thing as Commander-in-Chief and making sure that it’s resolved.
KARL: But what I don’t understand is there’s discretion clearly in deciding who’s essential and who’s not essential, who’s furloughed and who’s not furloughed. You’re here, these briefings are taking place. I mean, clearly, there’s decisions made. How could there not have been a decision made that if there’s anything that’s essential it would be taking care of those who lost loved ones in the field of battle?
CARNEY: And so the Department of Defense informed Congress that this would be a consequence, among many other consequences, and it wasn’t -
KARL: But this wasn’t –
CARNEY: Well, Jon, look — I mean, again, if you want to editorialize — the Commander-in-Chief, when he found out that this was not addressed, he directed that a solution be found and we expect one today. I think that’s –
KARL: So he didn’t find out until yesterday that this wasn’t being addressed?
CARNEY: Again, I think I’ve been pretty clear about the process here. Congress was informed, as it was informed of all of the consequences of shutdown, and they are many, as we see. And a solution to all of this is not the piecemeal reaction to them or Band-Aid approach to solving them. It’s opening the government at funding levels Republicans set.
And so forth. Fox’s Ed Henry tried to get an answer, and instead, got a similar runaround, even though he had the facts — that the president’s lawyers knew about the death benefit denial even before the shutdown started.
Ed Henry: It seems simple, when the President says he’s outraged about it through Jay Carney, so when did he learn about it? And how quickly did he move on it? What we do know that on September 27 the Pentagon comptroller told reporters way back then a few weeks ago, that if the government shutdown on October 1, they would not be able to pay out these death benefits. Nobody is suggesting that the President was briefed way back then but I did some more digging tonight and inside the administration people are saying unofficially that aides around here knew about this a few days ago. Now how quickly that filtered to the President, we still don’t know, they haven’t answered that question. But if the President knew about it 2, 3 days ago that would suggest maybe it would be politically embarrassing for them, if they were to say that he knew back then but didn’t actually move quickly to issue an executive order or whatever may be the case. The bottom line is that Jay Carney did tell me, we should say in fairness that there is one way to solve this, there’s one way to deal with the death benefits, to reopen the World War two memorial , Grand Canyon you name it and that in Jay Carney’s words is for the Republicans to reopen the government, so that battle obviously tonight still goes on.
Does President Obama really not know anything his government is doing, or does he just enjoy sending his spokesman out to dance and lie while his government betrays our military families?