Even before he outlines his upcoming job-creation plan to Congress next week, President Obama admits he is “frustrated” with lawmakers because it’s “been a long time since Congress was focused on what the American people need them to be focused on.”
Obama acknowledged his feelings in an email to campaign supporters Wednesday evening, the same night he and GOP House Speaker John Boehner jousted over even when the president should be able to address a joint session of Congress to present his jobs proposals.
Rather than focus on jobs, Obama spent much of the recent months locked in a protracted debate with Republicans over steep cuts to the federal budget because conservatives had threatened to allow the government go into default for the first time without those cuts.
With the nation’s unemployment rate stuck above 9 percent, however, the president says he understands job creation must become a Washington priority.
“That’s why I’m putting forward a set of bipartisan proposals to help grow the economy and create jobs — that means strengthening our small businesses, giving needed breaks to middle-class families, while taking responsible steps to bring down our deficit,” Obama says. “I’m asking lawmakers to look past short-term politics and take action on that plan.”
Obama had asked Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to speak before Congress next Tuesday. Boehner, however, rejected that date because Obama’s speech would have conflicted with a planned televised debate among the 2012 GOP presidential contenders. Ultimately, Obama rescheduled and is now set to give his speech on Wednesday.
In his email, titled “Frustrated” and emailed from his barackobama.com Internet domain, the president says he understands that recalcitrant congressional Republicans may want to ignore his jobs plan for political reasons.
“But both you and I can pressure them to do the right thing. We can send the message that the American people are playing by the rules and meeting their responsibilities — and it’s time for our leaders in Congress to meet theirs,” Obama says. “And we must hold them accountable if they don’t.”
To create that pressure, the president’s email includes a link for supporters to add their names to an online petition at barackobama.com, asking Congress to pass his job-creation proposals.
Obama’s ability to win a second term next year may well hinge on whether he is seen chipping away at the nation’s persistent jobs crisis.
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.