Obama crit­i­cizes GOP over econ­omy

dur­ing wis­con­sin visit, he takes shots at spe­cific lead­ers

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION - By Peter Baker

RACINE, Wis. — Pres­i­dent Barack Obama lev­eled a harsh in­dict­ment against con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans on Wed­nes­day, ac­cus­ing them of do­ing the bid­ding of bankers and oil ex­ec­u­tives while cut­ting “work­ing folks loose to fend for them­selves.”

In a visit to an eco­nom­i­cally hard hit area, Obama tried to de­flect blame for stub­born job­less­ness and turn the ta­bles on Repub­li­cans, who have been try­ing to ride a wave of eco­nomic pop­ulism. Al­though the econ­omy re­mains in ten­u­ous shape, he ar­gued it would have been worse with­out his spend­ing and pol­icy agenda.

“I just want ev­ery­one to re­mem­ber — we’ve tried the other side’s the­o­ries,” he said at a town hall-style meet­ing. “We know what their ideas are. We know where they led us. So now we’ve got a choice: We can re­turn to what we know did not work, or we can build a stronger fu­ture.”

Obama crit­i­cized Repub­li­cans for op­pos­ing an ex­ten­sion of un­em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits and fur­ther aid to state gov­ern­ments to avert mass lay­offs, as well as new reg­u­la­tions on Wall Street fi­nan­cial firms.

“They think that our econ­omy will do bet­ter if we just let the banks or the oil com­pa­nies or the in­surance in­dus­try make their own rules,” he said. “They still be­lieve that even af­ter the Wall Street crash, even af­ter the BP oil well blew, that we should keep a hands-off at­ti­tude.”

The pres­i­dent’s ap­pear­ance had the feel of a cam­paign out­ing as Democrats strug­gle to hold onto Congress in the face of bad poll num­bers head­ing into this fall’s midterm elec­tions. He used the oc­ca­sion to take par­tic­u­larly sharp shots at a cou­ple of spe­cific Repub­li­can lead­ers, be­lit­tling some of their re­cent state­ments as ex­am­ples of their be­ing out of touch with At a town hall event at Racine Me­mo­rial Hall in Racine, Wis., Pres­i­dent Barack Obama urged peo­ple to re­mem­ber ‘we’ve tried the other side’s the­o­ries.’ He says the econ­omy would be worse now with­out his spend­ing and pol­icy agenda. strug­gling Amer­i­cans.

Obama sin­gled out House Repub­li­can leader John Boehner of Ohio for say­ing that fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tion leg­is­la­tion was like “killing an ant with a nu­clear weapon,” even as the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee and other al­lies am­pli­fied the at­tack on the Web.

“He com­pared the fi­nan­cial cri­sis to an ant,” Obama said. “That is the same fi­nan­cial cri­sis that led to the loss of nearly 8 mil­lion jobs. Same cri­sis that cost peo­ple their homes, their life sav­ings. He can’t be that out of touch with the strug­gles of Amer­i­can fam­i­lies. And if he is, then he’s got to come here to Racine and ask peo­ple what they think.”

Boehner said in a state­ment that he was not com­par­ing the fi­nan­cial cri­sis to an ant but in­stead ar­gu­ing that the fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tion bill would kill more jobs and make the sit­u­a­tion worse with­out tack­ling the prob­lems of the govern­ment-con­trolled len­ders Fan­nie Mae and Fred­die Mac.

“At­tack­ing Repub­li­cans is a lot eas­ier than ex­plain­ing to the cit­i­zens of Racine, who face 14 per­cent un­em­ploy­ment, why one in ev­ery 10 Amer­i­cans in our work­force is un­em­ployed nearly 18 months af­ter the pres­i­dent’s tril­lion-dol­lar ‘stim­u­lus’ spend­ing bill was en­acted,” Boehner said. “The Amer­i­can peo­ple want lead­er­ship from the White House, not more child­ish par­ti­san­ship.”

Charles Dhara­pak

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