Obama to lash out at Republicans over ‘stunt’

Speaking in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, President Obama accused Republicans in Congress of blocking action on student loans, fair pay for women and the minimum wage. "That's when we act," the president said, "When Congress won't." (WhiteHouse.gov)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- President Obama will lash out at House Republicans on Wednesday for their plans to sue him over his use of executive authority, the White House said, in what appears to be part of a burgeoning effort to highlight what Democrats see as outlandish acts by Republicans in an election year.

The White House and Democratic candidates have been showering attention on the potential lawsuit by House Republicans and chitchat in Washington over potential impeachment proceedings as a way to portray the GOP as out of touch with the concerns of ordinary voters and infatuated with political theatrics.

White House strategies are trying to remind voters of Republicans' zealous efforts to impeach Bill Clinton, an effort that backfired in the 1998 midterm elections.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has said there are "no plans" for impeachment proceedings and disparaged the focus by Democrats as a "scam" to raise money. But White House press secretary Josh Earnest argued Tuesday that the Republicans were more serious about the idea of impeaching the president.

“If that’s the case, then I suspect that there may be members of the Republican conference that didn’t receive the memo,” Earnest said, listing a number of lawmakers, including Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) apparently open to the idea. “It’s an indication that if this is the case then maybe the speaker should direct that attention and that message to members of his own conference.”

It’s not the first time the White House has followed this strategy. While the criticism of Obama’s handling of attacks on two U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya, was at first dealt with as a serious matter, White House aides ultimately mocked Republicans’ unending probes into the issue.

Republicans, meanwhile, do say they are pressing forward with a lawsuit, an effort that is likely geared at boosting engagement by Republicans in the midterms.

A White House statement Tuesday called the discussion of a new House lawsuit a “political stunt” and said Obama would confront it “head on.” Obama will urge Congress to focus on more important matters, such as closing a loophole that allows companies to move their headquarters overseas to avoid paying corporate taxes. The so-called “tax inversions” are becoming a rallying cry for Democrats this year.

Obama “will reiterate his call for our nation to rally around an economic patriotism that says that rather than protecting wasteful tax loopholes for a few at the top, we should be investing in things like education and job training that grow the economy for everybody,” the White House statement said.

Speaking at the Uptown Theater here, Obama will discuss how he is using executive actions to boost the economy and mention the stories of four letter writers he dined with Tuesday night at Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque here.

“I think it is fair to say that we believe that the Republican priorities that they have articulated are completely wrong and don’t reflect the view of so many middle-class families," Earnest said. "Efforts to focus on these political partisan attacks don’t create jobs, they don’t reduce the deficit, they don’t make things better for middle-class families.”

Zachary A. Goldfarb is policy editor at The Washington Post.
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