LaHood: Republicans Should Concentrate on Economy

Tuesday, 01 Nov 2011 01:41 PM

By Greg McDonald

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Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is accusing his former Republican colleagues of putting partisan interests ahead of the nation’s economic well-being in their drive to defeat President Barack Obama’s bid for re-election. 
“I’ve been in Washington 35 years . . . and I’ve never seen a time when people have put their own personal political feelings over how we can get the economy moving,” LaHood said in interview Monday with Newsweek and The Daily Beast.
LaHood, the only Republican in Obama’s Cabinet, was especially harsh on the GOP-controlled House, which he accused of all but ignoring reports about decaying infrastructure in their own states in an effort to block Obama’s new jobs-creation plan to help rebuild roads and bridges and put people to work.
“Because of their own personal political feelings against the president, they don’t want to hand him a victory,” LaHood said in the interview with Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift.
“The [Republican] crowd that was elected the last time not only came here to do nothing, they also came to put down the president,” he told Clift. “And the way to put him down is not to give him any kind of opportunity to be successful.”
LaHood faulted tea party Republicans especially for throwing up a wall of opposition to the president, but he also singled out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for his remark that that the No. 1 goal of Republicans is to make sure that Obama is a one-term president.
“Republicans made a decision right after the [the 2010] election — don’t give Obama any victories. The heck with putting people to work, because we can score points,” LaHood said in the interview.
LaHood, who was elected to Congress in 1994, said there was a difference in Republicans who took control of the House then and the tea party freshmen who helped the GOP retake control from the Democrats in 2010.
“They didn’t come here to do nothing,” he said of his own former freshmen class. “They came here to vote on things, to make change for the positive. That’s not the fact with this [tea party] crowd,” he said, noting how the Republicans in those days, led by House Speaker Newt Gingrich, eventually worked with President Bill Clinton in shaping legislation, not just blocking it.

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