With his party facing potentially historic losses at the polls Tuesday, President Barack Obama used his weekly address to appeal for more bipartisan cooperation to solve the problems that vex the nation. But he also jabbed at the top Republican leaders in Congress, saying they are putting their partisan interests ahead of the nation’s needs.
House Minority Leader John Boehner delivered the Republican response, saying Tuesday’s elections are an opportunity to make “a break from the direction in which President Obama has taken our country.”
Obama said in his address that he believes there is common ground to be had on jobs and the economy, “practical steps we can take right away to promote growth and encourage businesses to hire and expand. These are steps we all should be able to agree on not Democratic or Republican ideas, but proposals that have traditionally been supported by both parties.” These steps include a series of near-term tax cuts aimed at the middle class and small businesses, and longer-term efforts such as upgrading U.S. infrastructure and fostering innovation.
But to achieve these goals, “it’s the fundamental responsibility of all who hold elective office to seek out common ground,” the president said, which is “why I found the recent comments by the top two Republican in Congress so troubling. The Republican leader of the House actually said that this is not the time for compromise.’ And the Republican leader of the Senate said his main goal after this election is simply to win the next one.”
Boehner made the comment about compromise last week on Sean Hannity’s radio show, and in an interview with National Journal, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said “the single most important thing [Republicans] want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
“I know that we’re in the final days of a campaign. So it’s not surprising that we’re seeing this heated rhetoric,” Obama said Saturday. “That’s politics. But when the ballots are cast and the voting is done, we need to put this kind of partisanship aside — win, lose, or draw.”
But Boehner’s response didn’t suggest much of a mood for cooperation. The Minority Leader, who may by Speaker come January, said: “One in ten of our fellow citizens is out of work. Our national debt has grown by $3 trillion. Trust in government has fallen to an all-time low. These problems didn’t start under President Obama. But instead of fixing them, his policies have made them worse.”
The Ohio Republican said the path forward “starts with cutting spending instead of increasing it; making government smaller and more accountable; and helping small businesses get back to creating jobs again.”
“Across our nation, Americans are looking at President Obama’s policies and asking, Where are the jobs?’ To help our economy get back on track, we have to stop all of the coming tax hikes and cut spending and to cut spending, we need to change Congress itself,” Boehner said, citing a series of proposals spelled out in the Republican agenda document called “A Pledge to America.”
“We’ve tried it President Obama’s way. We’ve tried it Washington’s way. It hasn’t worked. It’s time to put the people back in charge,” Boehner concluded.