(WASHINGTON) — Shortly after President Obama arrived at the White House briefing room and assured the American people that the private sector was doing just fine, the top two House Republican leaders condemned his message and urged the president to embrace GOP proposals to help spur economic growth.
“Mr. President, I used to run a small business, and Mr. President, take it from me: The private sector is not doing well,” Speaker of the House John Boehner said incredulously during a news conference arranged quickly after Obama’s news conference. “The American people are still asking the question, ‘Where are the jobs?’”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor echoed the speaker’s reaction, and called on Obama “to stop engaging in the blame game.”
“We just listened to the president say that the private sector is doing fine, and my question to the president would be, ‘Are you kidding?’” Cantor, R-Va., exclaimed. “Did he see the job numbers that came out last week? The private sector is not doing fine.”
Boehner denied the president’s claim that a lack of federal money for state and local governments was at fault for the country’s economic malaise, telling reporters that he believes the true culprit is the federal government, which he said, “continues to spend money that we don’t have.”
“With these looming tax hikes and the regulations coming out of Washington, we have frozen employers in place,” he said. “If we would have a moratorium on regulations and extend all the current tax rates, we would free employers, provide more certainty for them to go out and begin to hire the American people.”
As a wide array of tax provisions are set to expire at the end of the year, Boehner once again repeated the GOP’s intent to pass legislation that would extend all current tax rates and called on the president to embrace that proposition.
“Stopping the looming tax hikes will help job creators because they’ll have more certainty about what the tax rates are going to be and help create a better environment for them to create jobs,” Boehner said. “We’re going to vote next month on extending all of the current tax rates and the president should assure the nation that when this bill gets to his desk, he’ll sign it into law.”
The speaker also disagreed with the assertion that one of the reasons Europe faces an imminent financial disaster is because of the austerity measures that had been put in place, proposals that are much like those pitched by Republicans to address U.S. debt.
“The reason Europe is in the shape that it’s in is because they waited too long to deal with their problems,” Boehner said. “If we don’t get busy dealing with our debt, we’re gonna be in the same shape.”
“Just because Europe has problems doesn’t mean that we can’t begin to solve our problems,” he continued. “We can help American job creators by taking the actions that we’ve outlined. There’s no excuse why we should wait … for the convenience of an election. Let’s get to work today.”
Despite Obama’s request that Congress consider the items on his To Do list, Cantor made it clear that the GOP majority would continue its efforts to counter the administration’s policies.
The House of Representatives has already concluded this week’s legislative business, and lawmakers are now heading back to their districts for another Constituent Work Week, much to the chagrin of House Democrats, who complain that Republicans are putting off dealing with student loan interest rates and the highway bill to fund transportation.
“Republicans are sending Members home for the ninth week-long recess of the year,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote in a statement Friday. “Their message is clear: they have no intention of creating jobs. Their only plan is inaction, obstruction, and delay that weakens consumer confidence, causes uncertainty, and jeopardizes our recovery.”
The House returns to session June 18.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Sarah Anderson, Deseret News
Jeff Peterson, Deseret News
Tara Bench, KSL.com
Cristina Alesci Seth Fiegerman and Charles Riley, CNN