Republicans Fire Back at Obama's Scolding

Friday, 01 Jul 2011 01:10 PM

By Dan Weil

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Congressional Republicans are bristling about President Barack Obama’s public scolding of them Wednesday, when he accused them of procrastination on raising the debt limit and even said they don’t measure up to his own daughters, who complete their homework early. And even some Democrats are questioning the intent, wisdom and potential political fallout of his message.

Mitch McConnell, Obama, budget, scolding
Sen. Mitch McConnell: "The president doesn't seem to get it." (Getty Images Photo)
Some responses from the Republican camp:
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Obama to drop the politics and head for Capitol Hill to negotiate a solution. “The president doesn’t seem to get it,” he said in a floor speech. What's more, Obama rejected McConnell's invitation to a lunch with Republicans to discuss the budget and debt ceiling morass.
  • National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn said Obama should have put his own financial priorities in order by canceling a campaign fundraiser in Philadelphia Thursday night to instead focus on the government’s debt.
  • Rookie Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, sent Obama a letter suggesting that he drop the grandstanding and submit a deficit reduction plan. “House Republicans acted, and now we await your spending reduction plan — perhaps not with open arms, but we do have open minds,” he wrote.
Democrats perplexed at Obama’s demeanor say he just provided Republicans with a potent political opening.

“The president might as well cancel every golf game, Martha’s Vineyard vacation, and fundraiser from here until doomsday because he’s living in a glass White House and Republicans are already throwing rocks,” a senior congressional Democratic source told Politico.

But there may be a method to Obama’s madness, The Hill reports. His comments could serve as red meat for liberal Democrats, keeping them chewing quietly while the president works on reaching a budget agreement with Republicans.

“If the president is in a veritable fight with the Republicans, the left will give him a lot more room to make a deal,” one Democrat told The Hill. “To be sure, the left likes this President Obama a lot more than the post-partisan brand.”

Still, angry verbiage may not placate Democrats who note that Obama frequently has launched verbal assaults against conservatives this year while moving to the middle himself.

“I think the problem is that Obama’s words have lost much of their credibility,” Lara Brown, a political science professor at Villanova University, told The Hill. “He has talked many times about issues near and dear to progressives' hearts, but he has rarely delivered on his pledges.”

So Obama’s strategy carries the risk of alienating his base more. “If they don't get taxes in this deal, then there won’t be taxes on the table for the next two years, and you don’t solve the problem and you p--- off all your allies,” a Democrat told The Hill.

But any tax increase would appear to be dead on arrival at the House. “The president is sorely mistaken if he believes a bill to raise the debt ceiling and raise taxes would pass the House,” House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday. “The votes simply aren’t there.”

Obama has made one thing clear: He’s not cutting back on fundraising. His re-election team whipped out the collection plates Thursday to bring in every last dime. They want to show impressive numbers in their second-quarter contribution filings. Their goal for the quarter is $60 million.

Campaign manager Jim Messina preached to the converted. “If you’re planning on donating to this campaign at any point in the next 16 months, . . . do it now,” he wrote in a note to supporters.

Obama hit two big-time fundraisers in Philadelphia Thursday, while first lady Michelle Obama got into the act with a $500,000 event in Vermont.

Obama wants a strong early showing when it comes to dialing for dollars to energize his campaign while his approval rating remains stuck under 50 percent.

If it can make the $60 million mark, the Obama campaign would break former President George W. Bush’s $50.1 million record — set in the third quarter of 2003 — for quarterly contributions in the year before an election,


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