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Putting Country Before Party

Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer answers an op-ed from Republican Leadership in Congress.

This morning I read Speaker Boehner and Rep. Cantor’s op-ed in the USA Today. Let me address a few of their points.

First of all, we all know we’re going through a tough economic time.  Our problems are eminently solvable, and it’s going to take some real work and some tough decisions to get there.  So, there’s nothing wrong with our country, but there is something seriously wrong with the political games being played in Washington.  If we want to get this economy moving again, we must stop the kind of political brinksmanship that we saw in the House during the debt ceiling debate and get to work.

We need to get our fiscal house in order and take a balanced, long-term approach to deficit reduction.  That’s not just the President’s belief.  It’s a bipartisan position over on Capitol Hill and a belief held by millions of Americans across the nation.   In fact, Speaker Boehner was close to striking a balanced deal that raised significant revenues by closing loopholes and asking the wealthiest to pay a little more with the President – a deal that would have taken a balanced approach to reducing the deficit while investing in areas that will help the economy grow– but he decided to walk away from the table.  We actually heard members of the Republican Party rooting for the United States to go into default and send shockwaves through our financial system.  That’s not the kind of leadership the American people expect, and that’s not the type of leadership they deserve. 

We need a commonsense approach to reduce the deficit and create jobs.  We can’t reduce the deficit on the backs of those who can least afford it and continue to give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, corporate jet owners and hedge fund managers, as much as Speaker Boehner and Rep. Cantor would like to. It just doesn’t make sense.  We know, they know it, and experts like Warren Buffett have said it.

In their piece they also applauded their own efforts on “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan.  It wasn’t the answer the American people were looking for.  It would have crippled economic growth, devastated Medicare and Social Security, and placed the burden on older Americans and the most vulnerable.  That’s not acceptable and not the type of leadership we need to address our long term fiscal challenges.

The House leaders also said they support developing new sources of energy.  The facts here are simple: developing new sources of energy requires investments in clean energy.  The problem is, they supported the Ryan Plan that would cut clean energy investments by 70 percent.  That’s not exactly a job-creating approach. This administration made the largest clean energy investment in history - $90 billion in the Recovery Act, creating jobs and supporting cutting-edge industries. At the same time we’ve also taken steps to increase our domestic oil and gas production. This spring the President announced additional steps to expand safe and responsible production here are at home – directing the Department of the Interior to hold lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve, while also extending certain leases in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. Lastly, in the wake of the largest oil spill in U.S. history, this administration took unprecedented steps to increase safety while working to continue development of our important resources.

Let me also talk about tax cuts.  This isn’t hard to explain: the President has signed more than 40 tax cuts into law.  The Republicans have voted against 16 tax cuts for small businesseseven as they protected millionaires and billionaires, hedge fund managers and friends flying around in corporate jets.

Here’s where we stand.  We’re going through a tough time and we need to jumpstart the economy.  The President has been pushing for measures including an extension of the payroll tax cut, extending unemployment benefits, a road construction bill, free trade agreements and a patent reform bill. 

In addition to these measures, we need a jobs package with new ideas and new initiatives that will immediately impact the economy and create jobs.  The President will lay out this package in September.  We also need to reduce our deficit in a balanced way, so the President will also present to the Congress a detailed deficit reduction package that goes beyond the $1.5 trillion mandate of the committee– to not only fully cover the cost of the jobs package but to achieve additional balanced deficit reduction as well.

We hope Congress will come back from recess willing to compromise, put country before party, and get to work on behalf of the American people.

Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director