As President Barack Obama prepares to deliver a series of campaign-style speeches to promote his agenda leading up to the State of the Union address, Republicans are maintaining that recent economic news is no reason for a victory lap.
"More than five years after the recession officially ended, too many Americans are still feeling the pinch. Wages have remained stagnant, and median household income has dropped almost $3,000 on the president's watch.
"Meanwhile, prices for everything from groceries to education have risen. And instead of helping, most of the administration's policies have had a negative impact on the economy," South Dakota Sen. John Thune wrote in an op-ed for CNN.com
"Unfortunately, the president's attempted victory lap can't disguise the fact that our economy is still nowhere near where it should be," he added.
To get the economy where it should be, the chairman of the Senate Republican Conference said his party would use the opening weeks of the 114th Congress to move bipartisan job measures, including a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and a repeal of the medical device tax.
Rather than traveling after his annual address on Jan. 20, Obama will begin a three-day tour on Wednesday to generate support for new executive actions and his policy agenda, including a jobs-related speech in Michigan, reports The New York Times
One reason for the pre-speech tour is to enable Obama to capitalize on his improving approval ratings and to tout signs of an economic recovery.
“[The recovery is] slow but it’s having a discernible impact and will have an impact on his approval numbers. It gives him momentum. It certainly gives him stronger standing to make something of the presidency in the last two years,” says Mike McCurry, Bill Clinton's press secretary, in an interview with Bloomberg News
As Obama hits the road, Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to move legislation to approve the much-debated Keystone XL pipeline.
Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski, who is the incoming chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, announced her committee would hold a hearing on Wednesday and would mark-up the original Keystone bill on Thursday.
In a change from the way business was done under the leadership of Nevada Democrat Harry Reid, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would allow amendments to any Keystone legislation.
Meanwhile, the House is preparing to hold a vote on the legislation on Friday, which could be sent to the Senate by next week, The Hill reports
The House has passed bills approving the pipeline on 10 separate occasions.
While Keystone has been promoted as a job-creating measure, the House will also take up legislation Republicans contend will reverse Obama policies that have resulted in the loss of jobs, such as repealing the Obamacare medical device tax.
The GOP is leading with Keystone and a repeal of the medical device tax because both enjoy bipartisan support. The House also will put forward the Hire More Heroes Act, and legislation to change Obamacare's definition of a full-time workweek from 30 hours to 40 hours, reports The National Journal
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