Obama blasts Cantor for denying vote on jobs bill

Story highlights

  • Cantor spokesman says Obama's "my way or the highway" approach won't work
  • Obama rips Cantor for saying the House won't vote on his jobs bill
  • House Republicans vow to move on trade agreements and regulatory reform
  • Cantor says Obama should stop targeting top Republicans with "campaign-style tactics"
President Barack Obama blasted a top congressional Republican Tuesday for announcing that the GOP-controlled House of Representatives will not bring the administration's $447 billion jobs bill to a vote, calling the decision another setback for an already shaky economy.
Obama strongly criticized House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, in a campaign-style speech to a crowd in Dallas, Texas.
"I'd like Mr. Cantor to come down here to Dallas and explain what exactly in this jobs bill does he not believe in," Obama said. "Does he not believe in rebuilding America's roads and bridges? Does he not believe in tax breaks for small businesses, or efforts to help our veterans?"
"Come tell Dallas construction workers why they should be sitting idle instead of out there on the job," the president said. "Come tell the small business owners and workers in this community why you'd rather defend tax breaks ... for millionaires than tax cuts for middle-class families."
"And if you won't do that," he added, "at least put this jobs bill up for a vote so that the entire country knows exactly where members of Congress stand. Put your cards on the table."
Obama's blueprint -- presented last month to Congress -- includes a series of targeted tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and new job training assistance that would be paid for by ending tax loopholes for corporations and some tax cuts for American families earning more than $250,000 a year.
Top Republicans are vehemently opposed to any measure raising taxes, characterizing such ideas as economically counterproductive.
Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring responded to Obama's remarks by releasing a statement asking if "House Republicans sent our plan for America's job creators to the president, would he promise not to veto it in its entirety?"
"House Republicans have different ideas on how to grow the economy and create jobs, but that shouldn't prevent us from trying to find areas of common ground with the president," Dayspring said. "That is precisely why ... Cantor has given his word to the president that the House will pass portions of his jobs bill in the next month."
Obama, Dayspring argued, "needs to understand that his 'my way or the highway' approach simply isn't going to work in the House or the Democratic Senate, especially in light of his abysmal record on jobs. Serious problems deserve serious leadership."
Cantor announced Monday that the House will instead consider several measures this month that House Republicans and the White House can agree on, including pending free trade agreements with Korea, Colombia, and Panama.
The majority leader also said the House will vote on legislation to permanently repeal a 3% withholding tax on businesses that hold government contracts, and take up bills to roll back regulatory barriers for businesses.
Meeting with reporters on Capitol Hill, Cantor criticized recent appearances by the president in both his congressional district and the home district of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
"I believe it would be a lot more helpful for the president to focus on areas of commonality rather than targeting House Republicans in campaign-style tactics," Cantor said. "Perhaps he can start compromising with us."
The weak economy promises to be the dominant issue of next year's presidential campaign, with an overwhelming majority of Americans consistently calling it their top concern.
"The president said yesterday that people in this country are worse off than they were when he was elected," Cantor told reporters Tuesday. "We feel the same way."