As reporters grilled President Obama during a Thursday press conference on the chances that Congress will deliver his jobs bill to be signed into law, he replied with not-so-subtle threats that lawmakers could suffer serious political fallout from blocking the measure. In the televised late-morning press event, Obama warned that legislators who oppose his "American Jobs Act" plan could easily come across as obstructionist during a time of national crisis.
"I hope every senator thinks long and hard about what's at stake when they cast their vote next week," Obama warned. He said any senator now considering a no vote on the bill must answer to home state constituents, as well as to Obama himself, on the political playing field.
He characterized Republicans as the party of "no," referencing a familiar Democratic line of attack.
In the same vein, Obama suggested that the assembled reporters take on a "homework assignment": "Go ask Republicans what their jobs plan is," he said, suggesting Republicans do not have "robust" job plans of their own. He then suggested that his GOP critics coule enlist the same economists who assessed his Jobs Act to run the jobs numbers on the GOP economic platform and report back the results.
The Jobs Act battle marks just the latest effort the White House has launched to make the Republicans out to be obstructionists.
In June, Obama publicly scolded members of Congress over the fight to raise the debt ceiling, saying that his young daughters had a greater commitment to deadlines. He also distanced himself from several near-government shutdowns and a fight over the budget.
The president also rejected the suggestion from supporters that the mood of confrontation is an election-year bid to pin the nation's problems on a "do-nothing Congress"--which could then serve as an attractive foil for Democrats in what's shaping up to be a tough 2012 election cycle.
I have gone out of my way in every instance, sometimes at my own political peril and to the frustration of Democrats, to work with Republicans to find common ground to move this country forward," Obama said. "Each time, what we've seen is games played, a preference to try to score political points rather than actually get something done on the part of the other side."
"If Congress does something, then I can't run against a do-nothing Congress," he said.
Meanwhile, Republicans say they have offered their own jobs plans and argue that president is more interested in campaigning on his jobs bill than solving economic problems.
"We're legislating; he's campaigning. It's very disappointing," Boehner reportedly said Thursday at The Atlantic's annual Washington Ideas Forum.
Other Republicans argued this week that Democrats are also to blame for any holdups on the measure.
In a case of poor timing for the president Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blocked a vote on the bill at the same time the White House sent out an email blasting Republicans for not bringing up the legislation.
Republicans argue that the president's plan will not stimulate the economy or create jobs, arguing that it's simply a rehash of the president's stimulus plan. Others find fault with how the $447 billion bill will be funded and object to the removal of tax breaks for the wealthiest earners. The president says his plan will help improve the economy's growth rate by 2 percent.
The president conceded that the back-and-forth in Washington has made many Americans frustrated about Congress' ability to solve the country's economic problems.
"That cynicism is not going to be reduced until Congress actually proves their cynicism wrong by doing something that would actually help the American people," Obama said Thursday. "This is a great opportunity to do it."
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