- (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
In an attempt to resurrect a dismal economic record during his first three years in office, President Obama presented his latest jobs plan to a joint session of Congress and the nation Thursday night. The president, aware that his political future is most likely tied to the economy, was criticized for delivering a political speech that was short on details of how to improve the economy.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, when asked his thoughts on the address in a post-speech appearance on Fox News, said, “I was disappointed.” His remarks seem to resonate with what most Republicans are saying.
“Whatever we do in a jobs bill, we have to pay for it,” McCarthy said. “The president tasked the so-called ‘super’ committee to find additional cuts elsewhere in the budget.” McCarthy also said Congress was willing to address free trade agreements but the president has to first bring those to Congress.
Obama’s $450 billion plan included a mix of tax cuts, infrastructure investments and tax credits, yet he offered no road map on how to pass and implement the plan, McCarthy said. Obama did encourage Congress to “pass it right away.”
“The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours,” the president said. “The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy, whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.”
The plan, if passed and implemented, would spend $25 billion on school infrastructure to modernize nearly 35,000 public schools, adding computer labs and other upgrades. He also recommended an additional $35 billion to prevent the layoffs of up to 280,000 teachers and to hire thousands more.
In a statement released prior to the speech, Ohio Republican and Speaker of the House John Boehner said he was keeping an open mind about the president’s remarks. Boehner said he was looking forward to hearing what Obama had to say and hoped Congress could pass a jobs plan soon. Even after the speech, Boehner’s remarks were more conciliatory.
“The proposals the president outlined tonight merit consideration. We hope he gives serious consideration to our [Republicans] ideas as well. It’s my hope that we can work together to end the uncertainly facing families and small businesses, and create a better environment for long-term economic growth and private-sector job creation.”
However, some Republicans planned to skip the joint session. Some members, such as Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), instead of attending, planned to watch the speech from their office and send messages via Twitter to their followers.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) was planning on attending a New Orleans Saints football party that was previously scheduled, but changed his plans after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled votes on the Senate floor.
“Typical Harry Reid. He’s now schdid votes that should’ve been this morn 4 right b4 & right AFTER prez’s speech. Pens me in 2 have 2 stay,” Vitter tweeted.
As expected, it didn’t take long for the GOP presidential candidates to criticize the president’s remarks.
“Mr. President, you are 960 days too late,” said former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in remarks via video after the speech.
Frontrunner and Texas Governor Rick Perry attacked Obama for thinking the nation can spend its way to prosperity.
“Like the president’s earlier $800 billion stimulus program, this proposal offers little hope for millions of Americans who have lost jobs on his watch, and taxpayers who are rightly concerned that their children will inherit a mountain of debt,” Perry said in a statement.
“I checked with Speaker Boehner’s office. There is no bill,” said former House Speaker and GOP candidate Newt Gingrich on a conference call with supporters after the speech.