President Obama ripped into House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday, ridiculing the Republican leader for holding a vote to affirm the national motto — but failing to vote on proposed jobs legislation.
“If Congress tells you they don’t have time -- they’ve got time to do it,” Obama said at an event at the Georgetown Waterfront. “In the House of Representatives, what have you guys been debating? John, you’ve been debating a commemorative coin for baseball? You had legislation reaffirming that ‘In God We Trust’ is our motto? That’s not putting people back to work.”
Obama continued: “I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work.”
The House passed the nonbinding resolution affirming the national motto on Tuesday. The bill, sponsored by Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), was passed by a vote of 396 to 9.
Republicans countered that the “In God We Trust” bill took up no more than 20 minutes -- and was no more frivolous than some of the proclamations Obama signed this week, such as National Adoption Month.
“At this point, the White House will create any sideshow they can to distract from the fact the House has sent jobs bill after jobs bill over to the Democrat-run Senate – only to see them collect dust.
“If the President cares about putting people back to work, he should drop the disingenuous campaigning and encourage his Democratic friends to act on the close to 20 House-passed jobs bills,” Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Boehner, said.
For Obama, his remarks on Wednesday were part of an escalating campaign to contrast his effors with the inaction of Congress. With the jobs bill stuck, Obama has begun rolling out initiatives by executive action.
Almost exactly one year out from the 2012 election, his advisers are acutely aware of how closely his fate will be tied to the unemployment rate, and hope that voters will give him credit for trying to turn the jobs picture around even if he is unable to succeed before election day.
Obama appeared near Key Bridge in the Washington, D.C., area as part of his pitch to make greater investments in infrastructure, announcing a new program to expedite loans and new grants for building projects that will, in turn, create jobs. He also urged Congress to pass the piece of his $447 billion American Jobs Act that would spend $50 billion on rebuilding bridges and roads. The president was relentless in his mocking of the Republican leadership, reading quotes from prominent GOP members saying they support infrastructure projects.
“So if the speaker of the House, the Republican leader in the Senate, all the Democrats all say that this is important to do, why aren’t we doing it? What’s holding us back? Let’s get moving and put America back to work,” Obama said.
Key Bridge, which connects the D.C. neighborhood of Georgetown to the northern Virginia enclave of Arlington, is rated “structurally deficient,” Obama said. He said crumbling pieces of the nation’s infrastructure cost taxpayers up to $130 billion a year.
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