GOP Wants to ‘Suffocate the Economy’ for a ‘Political Victory’

Oct 11, 2011 3:12pm

Some very harsh words for the Republican Congress were emailed  to Obama supporters this afternoon by Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina.

Regarding tonight’s Senate vote, Messina emailed that “Senate Republicans want to block” the bill — not because they have an economic plan but because of their political strategy.

“Their strategy is to suffocate the economy for the sake of what they think will be a political victory,” Messina wrote. “They think that the more folks see Washington taking no action to create jobs, the better their chances in the next election. So they’re doing everything in their power to make sure nothing gets done.”

Not quite in keeping with the president’s post-Tucson plea for a new tone, but we’re probably way past that.

Using language that was less stark  but still drew the same conclusion about GOP motivations, President Obama at a union training center in Pittsburgh this afternoon called on the Senate to pass that bill.

“This is gut check time,” the president said. “Any senator who votes no should have to look you in the eye and tell you what exactly they are opposed to.” The president then listed the components of his bill – a payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance extensions, infrastructure spending, help for states to pay teachers and police officers. He concluded the only reason any Republican would oppose  this bill is because of politics.

“Being against something for the sake of politics makes absolutely no sense,” the president said. “It makes absolutely no sense.”

Earlier today, senior White House officials pushed back on the notion that the anticipated failure of the president’s Jobs Bill to secure even 51 votes in the Democrat-controlled Senate this evening would indicate a lack of support for the legislation that president has barnstormed the nation heralding.

“The test is not unanimous support among Democrats,” one senior White House official said. “That’s never been the test before. It’s not going to be now.

“You’re obsessing about whether we’re going to get 50 or 51,” a second senior White House official chastised reporters.

Democrats control 53 Senate seats; Senate Republicans say there is zero chance that the bill will garner the 60 votes necessary for the bill.

The White House officials said reporters should watch whether Senate Republicans unanimously vote against the president’s plan. That’s the important thing, they said, suggesting that Republicans are so blindly partisan they’re willing to vote against a moderate bill just to damage the president.

The White House and Senate Democratic leaders are preparing for the next step after the bill’s defeat: breaking it up into component parts. They anticipate that there could be bipartisan support for extending the payroll tax extension and unemployment insurance, as well as some infrastructure spending.

-Jake Tapper and Ann Compton

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