President Barack Obama and Congressional Republicans traded barbs in their weekly addresses over the solution to the nation’s sagging economy and fiscal challenges.
In his weekly radio address, Obama criticized Congress for not acting on his job creation proposals from last year.
“I sent Congress a jobs bill last September full of the kinds of bipartisan ideas that would have put our fellow Americans back to work and helped reinforce our economy against those outside shocks,” Obama said. “I sent them a plan that would have reduced the deficit by $4 trillion in a way that’s balanced — that pays for the job-creating investments we need by cutting unnecessary spending and asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes.”
But Obama said Congress has only passed a few parts of his plan, such as his payroll tax cut.
“Congress hasn’t acted on enough of the other ideas in that bill that would make a difference and help create jobs right now,” said Obama. “So my message to Congress is: get to work.”
Obama then challenged Congress to tackle the highway funding bill, his small business tax break proposal, a clean energy tax credit and to close corporate loopholes that reward outsourcers and instead give tax incentives to companies that bring jobs to America.
“It’s not lost on anyone, least of all me, that this is an election year. But we’ve got responsibilities that are bigger than an election,” Obama said. “With so many people struggling to get by, now is not the time to play politics. Now is not the time for Congress to sit on its hands. The American people expect their leaders to work hard, no matter what year it is. That’s what I intend to do. And I expect Democrats and Republicans to join me.”
In the GOP address, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said politics is driving the agenda of the president and Congressional Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
“President Obama has opted for fear and envy, and the Democratic Senate Majority Leader Reid is scheduling political show votes,” Cornyn said. “Meanwhile, millions of American workers remain unemployed, and our biggest national problems loom large without the leadership Americans deserve.”
Cornyn criticized Obama for pushing a tax on the wealthy, and he indicated that Congress needs to act on broader tax reform to give certainty to U.S. businesses and taxpayers.
“If you're a business owner, why would you hire new employees or make substantial investments if you don't know what your tax rates will be on January 1st? Why would you expect the economy to improve when President Obama has repeatedly indicated his belief that the problem is not that the federal government spends too much but that taxes are too low?” Cornyn asked.
Cornyn said Republicans and a handful of Democrats are pushing to “lower the rates and broaden the base. That would make our tax system more logical, more efficient and more conducive to strong economic growth.”
But he faulted Obama for failing to show leadership on the issue.
"Republicans have made clear our position: We're eager to prevent the largest tax increase in American history, and we don't see any reason for delay. We sincerely hope the president will work with us to save jobs, protect family incomes, and strengthen the economy,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.