As Obama prepares to embark this week on a quest to tout his vision for job creation, House Republicans today belittled President Obama's latest undertaking as his "umpteenth pivot" back to jobs that amounts to a "big setup" to build presidential leverage for higher taxes,
"Tomorrow the president says he's going to go out and pivot back to jobs. Well, welcome to the conversation, Mr. President," House Speaker John Boehner said in a mocking tone during a news conference at the Capitol today. "If the president was serious about helping our economy, he wouldn't give another speech. He'd reach out and actually work with us."
Boehner, R-Ohio, staked out his customary perch for an upcoming fiscal showdown with the president when the country's statutory debt limit is expected to be increased once again. He maintained that the "Boehner Rule," which calls for one dollar in savings for every dollar the debt limit is increased, is "the right formula for getting it done."
He has also insisted that a deal must put the country on a path to balance the budget within the next 10 years.
"We all know that we've got the issue of the debt ceiling coming up this fall," Boehner said. "We're not going to raise the debt ceiling without real cuts in spending. It's as simple as that."
That looming battle could renew bipartisan negotiations for a Grand Bargain, complete with an overhaul of entitlements, tax reform and deficit reduction. As part of a potential megadeal, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle also want to replace or cancel sequestration, which arbitrarily slashes about $1 trillion in federal spending over a decade.
Boehner warned that Obama's efforts to spread his jobs message are "all about a big setup" leading into the fall.
"The president wants to raise taxes so he can do more stimulus spending," Boehner alleged. "The fact is, it's his sequester. If we're going to get rid of his sequester, we're going to have to look for smarter spending cuts."
The White House has announced at least eight comparable presidential tours to advance Obama's economic agenda, including the "Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour" in May. But with the Congress bitterly divided, those campaigns have not resulted in much substantive legislative progress.
House Republican leaders pointed to a series of House-passed initiatives they believe would spur the economy, such as building the Keystone Pipeline, delaying implementation of the Affordable Care Act and enacting legislation to modernize worker training programs.
"[President Obama] will talk in his speech about the need to train the workforce of the next generation," House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., predicted. "He could very easily pick up the phone and ask his Senate colleagues to pick up our Skills Act. Let's pass it. Let's do something for the working families and businesses of this country.
"Another presidential speech is not going to help a mom or a dad who is out of work who frankly needs some job training or needs some help to get back up on that ladder of success," he added.
The House is scheduled to meet for six more days of legislative business before taking the summer recess, which extends into September.