An ongoing tit for tat between the White House and a top Republican amped up Thursday, with House Minority Leader John A. Boehner accusing the president of "whining" instead of solving problems, such as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
"For someone who asked to be held to a higher standard, President Obama spends an awful lot of time making excuses and whining about others," said Mr. Boehner in his weekly briefing with reporters. "The American people want leadership from this White House and not childish partisanship."
Mr. Boehner's comments comes as other Democrats joined Mr. Obama in criticizing GOP opposition to a sweeping financial-reform bill, specifically targeting the Ohio Republican who recently said the overhaul was so overreaching that it was "like killing an ant with a nuclear weapon."
Democrats accused the Republican leader of downplaying the nation's economic crisis caused by the near collapse of Wall Street in 2008.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said the nation's financial woes "is a situation that some have called an 'ant' - an ant, A-N-T, ant - and would you call an ant the loss of 8 1/2 million jobs, the loss of $17 trillion of household wealth for the American people and a very major recession for our economy?"
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine also chimed in Thursday, accusing House Republican leadership of "minimizing the financial crisis that harmed millions of Americans by comparing it to the size of an 'ant.'
The president, while on a visit to Racine, Wis., called out Mr. Boehner, saying that "he can't be that out of touch with the struggles of American families."
"Do you think that the financial crisis was an ant, and we just need a little ant swatter to fix this thing?" said Mr. Obama during a town hall-style gathering.
Mr. Boehner defended his ant statement, saying he wasn't referring to the financial crisis but rather "what it would take to fix the problem."
"And fixing the problem would have meant doing something about reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," said Mr. Boehner, referring to the troubled government-sponsored mortgage companies. "It would have been about more transparency for many of these financial transactions.
"But if you look at the bill that they've created, it's going to kill jobs in America and make the situation worse."
The Democrats' financial-reform measure passed Wednesday in the House on a near party-line vote. Senate Democratic leaders, trying to wrangle elusive Republican votes, have put off voting on the measure until at least mid-July.
Mr. Boehner suggested that the Democrats' economic agenda will cost them during the midterm elections.
"The American people are going to hold Democrats accountable for failing to do what they promised that they would do and failing to do what needs to be done to get our economy going again and get Americans back to work," he said.
The Republican leader on Thursday again accused the White House of politicizing the Gulf oil spill, saying that the administration is using it as an excuse to push through a controversial "cap and trade" emissions program opposed by Republicans and some Democrats.
"I just think that's entirely inappropriate," he said. "The president ought to be focused on getting the oil leaking in the Gulf to be stopped, ought to be focused on getting the Gulf cleaned up, understanding what happened in this spill to make sure it never, ever, ever happens again."
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