In Radio Talks, Obama, Republicans Skirmish on BP Crisis
President Barack Obama used his weekly Saturday radio address to call on Senate Republicans to stop “blocking progress” on bills aimed at boosting the economy, stemming teacher layoffs and raising the liability cap on BP.
In the Republican response, Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker blasted Obama for being too slow in his response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The president gave a full-throated partisan appeal for action.
“I was disappointed this week to see a dreary and familiar politics get in the way of our ability to move forward on a series of critical issues that have a direct impact on people’s lives,” Obama said.
He lamented that GOP leaders “won’t even allow legislation to come up for a vote” that would extend unemployment benefits as well as tax breaks to first-time homebuyers, in addition to preventing thousands of state workers from being laid off.
“If this obstruction continues, unemployed Americans will see their benefits stop. Teachers and firefighters will lose their jobs. Families will pay more for their first home,” the president said.
Obama also criticized Republican leaders for preventing a vote on legislation that would remove the $75 million liability cap on BP. In addition, he expressed disappointment that GOP leaders continue to hold up 136 federal nominees who are “highly qualified” but who are being “intentionally delayed” for political reasons.
“I know the political season is upon us in Washington. But gridlock as a political strategy is destructive to the country,” he said. “So I hope that when Congress returns next week, they do so with a greater spirit of compromise and cooperation. America will be watching.”
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) responded to Obama’s address: “The American people are looking to Washington Democrats — including the president — for leadership on tough issues like jobs and spending, not complaints.”
And Wicker warned that many of Obama’s actions are a step in the wrong direction — namely, the president’s renewed push for cap-and-trade energy reform legislation.
During his address to the nation Tuesday night about the oil spill, Obama “made it clear that he intends to exploit this crisis to push his liberal agenda for a cap-and-tax scheme,” Wicker said. “This is a disservice not only to the victims and their families but also to the millions of Gulf Coast residents who are struggling in the wake of the spill.”
The Mississippi Republican said the president revealed “his true priorities” by advocating a national energy tax, which he said most Americans oppose because it would drive up energy costs.
Wicker also bashed the administration’s moratorium on deepwater drilling, which he said has the potential to permanently eliminate thousands of jobs and drive up energy costs. He also warned about the oil spill’s effect on tourism in the Gulf region, where he said hotels and restaurants have seen business down by as much as 70 percent.
“We want our jobs back, our economy back, and we need our tourists back,” said Wicker, emphasizing that most of the region’s beaches are clear and safe. “So please come and visit us. You deserve a vacation, and we could use the bus