Today, House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, having swapped titles with each other, marked the milestone by promoting two alternate perspectives on the success, or lack thereof, of Congress over the past year.
Boehner, who seized the speaker’s gavel on January 5, said that although there’s “a long way to go,” the Republican majority has “changed the focus here in Washington” with a House that is “more open and transparent” than previous majorities, by focusing on creating a better environment for job creation.
“Rather than debating about how much more we’re going to spend, the debate over the course of the last year is about how much we’re going to cut, and in fact, we are cutting spending,” Boehner, R-Ohio, boasted. “Most importantly — and a change from years past — the House is keeping its pledge to America by focusing on the top priority of the American people, and that issue is jobs. American families and small businesses are hurting, 14 million Americans are out of work, and Republicans are focused on getting our economy moving again.”
Pelosi assessed the past year in a different light, marking the occasion by contending that Republicans have failed to deliver jobs to the American people.
“Over 300 days that the Republicans have been in power, they have not produced,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “They have not created jobs for the American people, and that is, I think, the measure that we want to compare our first 300 days.”
Although the Democrats’ agenda was rejected by voters during the Congressional Midterm elections, Pelosi said that she worked with President Obama since the day he took office to focus on policies that would spur job growth.
“One week and one day after the president made his inaugural address … we passed the Recovery Act in the House — in a few weeks it was in the Senate — saving or creating millions of jobs for the American people,” Pelosi said. “Here we are, over 300 days [in the GOP majority]. No such legislation.”
She said that without the stimulus bill the country would have 15 percent unemployment, but she admitted that the Democrats’ failure to come through with jobs “was a cloud that was over the last election.”
“If you don’t have a job, you don’t want to hear somebody say it could be worse, right? But it could be,” Pelosi said. “When you’re talking to people and they still don’t have a job, [is that] any consolation to them? No.”
Boehner said that the budget deficit and national debt “serves as a wet blanket over our economy” and “has every investor and businessperson concerned about whether we’re going to deal with this problem.”
“That’s why getting this deficit and debt under control, I think, is critically important, because it’ll lead to a better environment for job creation in our country,” Boehner said. “You have to ask, if the Senate won’t act on jobs bills, where the Republicans in the House and the president agree, what are they willing to do to help create jobs in our country?”
But with the 112th session of Congress nearly halfway over, Pelosi said Democrats have put the House majority back in play and she is “very enthusiastic about the recruitment of our candidates” and the work of Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“Not to talk money, but we outraised the Republicans for the first three quarters of the year. This is quite remarkable, and with the support of many small donors and idealistic progressives and Democrats across the country, we were able to succeed in that way,” Pelosi said. “If we hadn’t been successful in the recruitment and hadn’t been successful in the raising of money, you might make a statement of, How on earth do you think that you can win? But I think that we have definitely put the House in play.
“We think that our taking back the House is urgent in terms of job creation and taking us to a path of prosperity that reignites the American dream, where everyone who plays by the rules and wants to work hard can have ladders of success built for them, so they can achieve the American dream,” she added. “We know we have work to do.”
Boehner agreed that there is still much to be done to get the economy growing again, and he once again pressed Senate Democrats to pass more than the House-passed 15 bills that have yet to see any action in the upper chamber.
“Americans are tired of the posturing, they’re tired of the fighting. They want us to focus on common ground and to solve this problem,” Boehner said. “I hope the president will join me. I hope he’ll join Republicans and call on the Democrats in the Senate to take up the forgotten 15 so we can get this economy moving again.”