The new chairman of the Republican National Committee said President Barack Obama has put U.S. fiscal “sovereignty” at risk by failing to control spending.
“I respect the president, but the fundamental fact is I don’t think he has been an effective leader,” Reince Priebus told a civic group in Obama’s home base of Chicago today. “This president has simply not delivered.”
Priebus, 39, who in January defeated previous party Chairman Michael Steele and others to win the post, said Obama hasn’t taken enough of an active role in budget and deficit negotiations in Washington.
“A government that loses its sovereignty to its bondholders cannot guarantee prosperity or freedom,” he told the City Club of Chicago. “An economy that is completely controlled by China cannot possibly compete with China.”
Priebus mocked one of Obama’s re-election themes as he noted the U.S. unemployment rate was 8.8 percent in March.
“We’re not winning the future, as the president likes to say; I believe that we are losing the future,” he said. “The president can talk about hope all he wants, but here’s the problem: hope isn’t hiring in America.”
Hari Sevugan, a Democratic National Committee spokesman, defended Obama’s economic record.
“With 13 straight months of private-sector job growth, the president has led the country from the brink of economic collapse following eight years of Republican economic policies,” Sevugan said in a statement.
Priebus said he isn’t concerned that the Republican field of potential presidential candidates for 2012 remains wide open.
“We are going to have a lot of Republican candidates running because they feel the same way I do, that this president is taking us in the wrong direction,” he said.
The desire for fiscal discipline is helping fuel interest in a potential Republican presidential bid by real estate developer Donald Trump, Priebus said.
“Donald Trump is speaking to those issues,” he said.
Priebus, who is from Wisconsin, defended the actions of the state’s governor, Scott Walker, to weaken state workers’ collective bargaining rights.
“The debate in Wisconsin is a debate that the American people are ready to have,” he said. “These are reasonable things to do in order to balance a budget.”
Priebus began as a local Republican activist in Wisconsin and became state chairman in 2007. He won the national chairmanship in part by touting his record in Wisconsin, where Republicans made significant gains in November’s election.
The party won the governorship, a U.S. Senate seat that was held by Democrat Russ Feingold, two House seats in the state’s eight-member delegation, and gained control of both chambers of the state legislature.
Priebus took over a party that had a $23 million debt. The RNC raised $18.2 million while spending $15.7 million during the first three months of 2011, reducing the debt to $19.8 million at the end of March, Federal Election Commission reports show.
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