“This isn’t a jobs plan; it’s a reelection plan,” McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, said Thursday morning in remarks on the Senate floor. “That’s why Republicans will continue to press for policies that empower job creators, not Washington.”
McConnell and other Senate Republicans have pre-butted Obama’s 7 p.m. speech by charging that the president is asking Congress to pass another federal stimulus plan, more than two years after the original spending package that the White House said would boost job creation. Republicans on Thursday placed the blame for the country’s economic malaise on Obama’s shoulders, arguing that rather than making the jobs situation better, the White House’s agenda has “made things worse.”
“Gas prices are up,” McConnell said. “The national debt is up. Health insurance premiums are up. Homes values in most places continue to fall. And two and a half years after the President’s signature jobs bill was signed into law, 1.7 million fewer Americans have jobs. So, I’d say that Americans have 1.7 million reasons to oppose another stimulus.”
The White House has argued that its recovery plan saved or created millions of jobs and that the economy would be in far worse shape if the plan hadn’t been enacted.
Even as they criticized Obama’s leadership on the economy, Republicans have also notably struck a tone of bipartisan cooperation in the run-up to Thursday’s jobs speech and have called on the White House to “put politics aside” when it comes to job-creation.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said at a Christian Science Monitor luncheon Thursday that Americans “don’t expect Republicans and Democrats to agree on every issue, but given the times we’re in, the people who elected us expect us to be able to set aside those differences and work towards finding some commonality.”
“I’m hopeful he will respect that we love this country, too,” he said.
The newly bipartisan tone was also reflected in a meeting of the bipartisan debt supercommittee Thursday morning, where the panel’s 12 members expressed optimism that they would be able to reach a deal by Thanksgiving to achieve $1.5 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade.
House Democratic leaders reacted early to Obama’s speech by pushing House committees to act as soon as possible on the president’s jobs plan. In a letter to the ranking Democrats of the House committees, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged members to call on their GOP committee chairmen to take up legislation related to Obama’s jobs agenda, ideally before the deadline by which committees must submit their recommendations to the debt-reduction supercommittee.
“The legislation proposed by the President comes as the deliberations of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction begin,” Pelosi wrote. “As you know, recommendations must be submitted by each House committee to the Joint Committee by October 14th. I am requesting that each Democratic Ranking Member write to his or her respective chairman to schedule immediate hearings and legislative action on legislation proposed by the President that lies within the jurisdiction of the committee.”
Pelosi requested that the members send their letters by noon Friday, adding that members “share a sense of the urgency that Congress act quickly and on a bipartisan basis to support the creation of jobs.”