JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Casting House Republicans as stubborn deadbeats, President Barack Obama sought yesterday to discredit them in upcoming fiscal fights by painting them as roadblocks to a thriving middle class.
With Obama and Congress approaching showdowns over spending levels and the nation's borrowing limit, the president used a visit to a seaside port in Florida to argue that the nation's economic agenda should be immune to the partisan backbiting he faulted Republicans for instigating.
"Shutting down the government just because I'm for keeping it open -- that's not an economic plan," Obama said, wiping sweat from his face in a muggy port warehouse. "Threatening that you won't pay the bills in this country, when we've already racked up those bills, that's not an economic plan -- that's just being a deadbeat."
In the last of three stops on a two-day tour to reframe his broad economic vision for the nation, Obama pitched the need for enhanced American infrastructure at this port and others across the country -- and for better roads, bridges and power grids.
But while he touted his efforts to streamline permitting, the president offered no new proposals for how Americans and their leaders could accelerate a lethargic economic recovery.
Obama warned that if Republicans continue with their "my way or the highway attitude," dire consequences could await. He encouraged voters to use next month's congressional recess to tell Republicans who'll be in their home districts that gridlock is unacceptable. "It could plunge us back into financial crisis," the president said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) questioned the point of Obama's big push in a speech on the Senate floor yesterday. "At some point, campaign season has to end and the working-with-others season has to begin," McConnell said.
Obama praised Senate Republicans for being willing to compromise on issues such as immigration, then drew a distinction with House Republicans, whom he repeatedly accused of bringing the economy to the brink.