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Republicans pan Obama's speech

August 08, 2011|By Shane Goldmacher | Washington Bureau
  • President Obama enters the White House State Dining Room to deliver remarks about the U.S. debt rating downgrade.
President Obama enters the White House State Dining Room to deliver remarks… (Alex Wong/Getty Images )

Reporting from Washington   — Republicans immediately pounced on President Obama’s speech Monday as insufficient after the nation’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time in history last week.

In his remarks, the president declared that America remains a "triple-A country" and that the downgrade by Standard & Poor's would hopefully “give us a renewed sense of urgency" to tackle the nation’s fiscal troubles.

But with the Dow Jones industrial average plunging more than 500 points after Obama’s address, the head of the Republican National Committee said the markets had already spoken.

“The markets have rendered their verdict on Barack Obama’s speech and it was not a good one,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus wrote on Twitter.

Calling Obama “out of touch,” a Republican Party news release noted that the president would attend two political fundraisers Monday night, spent last weekend at Camp David and had a “star-studded” birthday party at the White House last week.

In his remarks, Obama urged the two parties to come together to reduce the nation’s debt and boost the economy.

"It's not a lack of plans or policies that are the problem here," Obama said. "It's a lack of political will in Washington. It's the insistence on drawing lines in the sand — a refusal to put what's best for the country ahead of self-interest or party or ideology."

He called for a blend of spending cuts, tax revenues and "modest adjustments" to entitlement programs including Medicare to shrink the deficit.

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) responded by renewing his opposition to any tax increases. “The country needs economic growth and fiscal responsibility, not higher taxes and new Washington spending and regulations,” he said in a statement after the president’s remarks.

At least some Republicans sounded a willing note about crossing partisan lines.

“The president is right about one thing: Our debt problems are solvable if we work together,” Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) said in a statement. “And I stand ready to do just that.”

Not that Biggert agreed with the president’s economic prescriptions. “Americans deserve stronger leadership from the White House,” she added.

shane.goldmacher@latimes.com

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