{{show_title_date || "Jay Carney: IRS activity inappropriate; POTUS taking care of it, 7/24/13, 8:06 AM ET"}}

WATCH: Carney shifts away from ‘phony’ scandals, Scarborough says not so fast


President Obama will shift focus back to the economy starting Wednesday in hopes of recapturing America’s approval on the eve of the next budget showdown.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president wants to move away from the “phony scandals” and partisan gridlock that have distracted Washington.

Well, on Morning Joe, that’s “like throwing red meat in the middle of dogs,” said host Joe Scarborough. “What phony scandals? Do you think the IRS scandal is a phony scandal?”

Last month, it was revealed that the Internal Revenue Service had targeted conservative and Tea Party nonprofit groups for extra auditing.

But Carney fired back that the president had handled it: “What we’ve seen is inappropriate activity that the president came out forcefully and said he would not tolerate,” Carney responded. The two then began to debate whether Washington’s focus on the scandal was appropriate—and whether it was isolated to Cincinnati as Carney had originally said.

“Is that the truth or not, Jay?” Scarborough asked. “I want to talk about the economy, but don’t give me talking points because that doesn’t work on this show and you’ve been here long enough to realize that doesn’t work on this show!”

Speaking from Illinois on Wednesday, the president will return to campaign-style messaging on the economy, similar to his 2010 White House to Main Street tour. The president has an additional half dozen speeches planned on the economy this summer, according to the Boston Globe.

Will the message be different from the dozens before it?

“It will be thematically consistent. What he’ll make clear is the same problem the middle class was feeling in 2005, even before the great recession, where the middle class was being squeezed,” Carney said, “remains the problem even as we emerge from the worst recession since the Great Depression.”