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Obama to GOP: Put country before party

August 11, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli
  • President Obama waves after touring an advanced battery facility in Holland, Mich.
President Obama waves after touring an advanced battery facility in Holland,… (Larry Downing / Reuters )

Looking to rebound from one of the toughest stretches of his term, President Obama took on a sharper tone with Republicans in Congress on Thursday, saying they have put short-term political interests ahead of the concerns of Americans struggling in the turbulent economy.

Speaking from an advanced battery plant in Holland, Mich. -- part of an effort to highlight what the administration sees as a clear success story -- Obama responded to critics who have pressed him for a more urgent approach to the nation's economic woes.

He listed a series of proposals he's already offered, from a payroll tax extension to trade bills to an infrastructure bank, things "we can do right now that will put more money in your pockets, will help businesses sell more products around the world, will put people to work in Michigan and across the country."

"The only thing preventing these bills from being passed is the refusal of some folks in Congress to put country ahead of party," he said.

Some in Congress, Obama continued, "would rather see their opponents lose than see America win, and that has to stop."

The speech, from a potential swing state in the 2012 campaign, had the makings of a new campaign message. As he did during the debt-ceiling debate, Obama urged the American people to keep pressuring lawmakers for action.

"That's what I'm fighting for. I'm here to enlist you in that fight. You've got to hold everybody accountable because if we can come together and find common ground, there is no stopping the United States of America," he said.

That's one reason he was not calling lawmakers back to Washington, as some have suggested he do.

"The last thing we need is Congress spending more time arguing in D.C.," he said. Members of Congress would be better served hearing from their constituents.

"And if they're listening hard enough, maybe they'll come back to Washington ready to compromise and ready to create jobs and ready to reduce our deficit, ready to do what you sent them there to do."

Speaker John Boehner responded by pointing to “common-sense, pro-growth policies” passed by the Republican-controlled House that have stalled in the Democratic-led Senate, and accused Obama of “grandstanding.”

“If the President wants to do something productive, he can start by delivering on his promise to outline his own recommendations to rein in the massive deficits and debt that are undermining job creation in our country,” Boehner said in a statement.

Obama is set to continue a more aggressive push for his agenda next week as he launches a three-day bus tour through the Midwest.

But just after, he will begin a nine-day vacation in Martha's Vineyard.

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