Key Republicans will be a no-show for President Obama’s speech tonight before a joint session of Congress, prompting cries of disrespect from the Democrat’s House leader.
House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio) has decided there will be no Republican rebuttal following the 7 p.m. unveiling of the president’s $300 billion jobs and economic plan.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.) told Fox News he suspects there will be no formal response because the “the speaker doesn’t expect to hear much to respond to.”
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) called it a snub and says that Republicans aren’t showing respect for her party’s plan to create jobs.
“The Republicans’ refusal to respond to the President’s proposal on jobs is not only disrespectful to him, but to the American people,” Pelosi said.
Other members of the Republican caucus have declared an outright boycott of the House chamber speech.
Sen. Jim DeMint, (R.-S.C.) doesn’t plan on attending, Rep. Joe Walsh (R.-Ill.) says he won’t be used as a “prop” for the President, and Rep. Paul Broun (R.-Ga.) will take to the Twitterverse and host his own meeting with followers.
Broun’s spokeswoman Meredith Griffanti told CBS News that “jobs are at the forefront of everyone’s mind” and it is a better use of his time to hear from constituents than sit in the House chamber.”
Obama originally asked Boehner to address the Congress on Wednesday night, which conflicted with the GOP’s presidential debate in California.
Boehner politely outmaneuvered the President and suggested he reschedule the speech for tonight, which instead competes for the kickoff of football season and the game between the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers.
Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter says his loyalty will be to his team, and he’ll be watching the game with the rest of “WhoDat nation.”
The President’s time slot will also cost him some viewers—WTMJ, the NBC affiliate in Milwaukee, Wis., will be airing pre-game coverage instead of the speech.
The President’s jobs plan is expected to cost several hundred billion dollars in new infrastructure spending, extended unemployment benefits and aid to state and local governments, to be paid for in later years with tax increases. The President is also expected to announce that the 2% payroll tax cut will be allowed to continue.
According to The Heritage Foundation, Obama, who pledged to create 3.5 million jobs by 2010, is instead running a deficit of 6.7 million.
“The President will propose new meaningful initiatives to create jobs and grow the economy, and it will be fully paid for,” said White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer.
Some members of Congress are responding to the speech before it’s even delivered. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, said in a Senate floor speech Wednesday that his party will oppose any new spending that is not offset by cuts.
“It comes to a point that you can’t keep borrowing in a futile attempt to stimulate the economy when the increased debt itself is weakening the economy,” Sessions said.
Rep. Steve King (R.-Iowa) said that if Obama wants his speech to be greeted warmly by Wall Street, he should admit “Obamanomics was a mistake.”
“He needs to reverse course and embrace the Cut, Cap and Balance bill, and he should ask Congress to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment immediately. The President also needs to cut the cost of over-regulation in half and to open up drilling. Finally, he has to believe in these proposals, and we would have to believe him,” King said.
“If the President’s speech goes in the opposite direction by embracing Keynesian economics, he will be digging us even deeper into a hole of record unemployment and stagnant growth. After two-and-a-half years of the President’s failed economic policies, we know what to expect from Obamanomics and, I believe, we know what the negative results will be,” King said.
Republican leaders, including Boehner, requested a meeting with the President prior to his speech but the offer was rejected. “I do not believe that anyone out there in the country thinks that the answer to getting Washington out of gridlock is having another round, before this speech, of meetings in the Cabinet Room,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
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