RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Tonight- President Barack Obama will address a joint session of Congress to lay out his plan to address the country's unemployment problem. And joining us with a preview of what we will hear from the president tonight, is the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
RYAN: He joins us live from Washington. Thank you for being here Mr. Carney.
JAY: Thanks for having me. I'm glad to be here.
RYAN: Now, before we get to tonight's speech, I was wondering if you had any reaction to the news today of the 4th Circuit Appeals Court that's dismissed Virginia's challenge to the Obama administration's Healthcare Reform Act. Is the White House concerned at all that the court didn't address the constitutionality of the law, but just Virginia's right to challenge it?
JAY: Well, look, there have been -- I don't have a specific reaction. I think that as you know, there have been a series of court cases and different courts have decided differently. We feel very confident that as these challenges moves through the system and ultimately gets decided by the Supreme Court, that the constitutionality will be upheld, as it has been in different circuit court cases throughout the country. So we believe fundamentally that this is absolutely constitutional and that it will be upheld, which is why we proceeded with implementation at the pace we have.
RYAN: Now let's get to the president's speech tonight. Republicans have been critical that he chose to give a big sweeping address instead of just releasing plan with specifics. Why is it the White House's opinion that another big speech is necessary?
JAY: Well, because the moment requires it. This is a big and important moment for our economy. Everybody out there, in Richmond and around the country, understands that the economy has slowed, growth has slowed, and job creation has slowed, and we need to take action now. There are a lot of reasons why that's happened. As you know, the tsunami in Japan had an effect globally on the economy and the American economy. The Arab uprising had a terrible effect on oil prices which hit Americans hard. The situation in Europe has had a consistent effect for a number of months now; negative effect on our economy. Also, what happened this summer in the circus of the debt ceiling negotiations had a negative effect on confidence, because, you know, most Americans look at Washington and when they see partisanship and gridlock, they think that's just Washington, it's annoying. What they saw this summer was that it's more than annoying. It was dangerous. It actually did harm to our economy, harm to confidence. The president will call on Congress tonight to take action now to do the things the American people want done to help the economy and grow jobs. He's going to put forward an American jobs act filled with proposals that historically had bipartisan support, which if passed by Congress, will give a boost to economic growth and most importantly, put Americans back to work.
RYAN: Let's talk about the opportunities for bipartisanship. Our local congressman, of course, is the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. He and Speaker Boehner put out a letter to the White House this week where they talked about those areas of common ground. Are you hopeful that the mood following the speech today will be of that unity and not more gridlock that could go on, and just like the debt ceiling debate?
JAY: We are hopeful and I think that the tone of that letter, the conciliatory tone was actually a very helpful sign because the fact is, as you will see tonight, the kinds of proposal we're putting forward are the kinds that republicans and democrats have supported in the past and we believe there's room for compromise. We also believe that Congress coming back from this four or five-week recess, having heard from the constituents in the districts and states, have heard that they're fed up with Washington inaction. They want democrats and republicans to come together around common sense principles and to get America back to work.
RYAN: We've just a little bit of time left with you Mr. Carney. Give us a brief explanation of why the president chooses to keep coming back to Richmond on Friday? What is it about Richmond that attracts the president and does it have anything to do with the 2012 campaign?
JAY: As a native Virginian, I can tell you he loves the state almost as much as I do, and he spent a lot of time obviously during the campaign, but Virginia as very important state in our economy, in the region, and in the country, and so I'm sure he will keep coming back.
RYAN: All right, Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary. We appreciate the time, sir, and we look forward to the president's speech tonight. It will air right here on NBC12 at 7:00 and we'll also stream it on nbc12.com.