Obama hits GOP on Cordray nomination, payroll tax

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The president then issued a stern warning to Republicans, who hoped the move would push Obama to provide concessions that would weaken the bureau in exchange for approval of Cordray's nomination.

"I just want to give a message to the Senate — we are not giving up on this," Obama said.

The president said that he would not take any options "off the table" — including a possible recess appointment for Cordray. He went on to criticize Republicans for trying to legislate through blocking nominations rather than passing bills.

"This was a law that was passed by Congress ... that is designed solely to protect American consumers," Obama said, referencing the financial reform package that created the agency.

"They're free to introduce a bill and get that passed ... to reverse a law that has already been passed," he added.

Obama also blasted Republicans for trying to extract a "price" in exchange for passing payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits legislation.

"Rather than trying to figure out what they can extract politically from me, what they need to do is focus on what's good for the economy," Obama said.

Specifically addressing a Republican proposal that would have tied approval of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline — which Obama has pushed off until after the election after environmental groups protested heavily — Obama argued that the payroll cut was far more important to the employment situation.

"However many jobs might be generated by the Keystone pipeline," he said, "it's going to be a lot fewer than the jobs created by the payroll tax cut and extending unemployment insurance."

He reiterated that he did "not expect Congress to go home unless the payroll tax is extended and unless unemployment insurance is extended."

Obama also pledged to stay in Washington until the legislation had passed. The president had been planning to accompany his family to Hawaii, but has said he will remain as long a necessary to ensure passage of the bill.

"With respect to my vacation, I would not ask anybody to do something I wouldn't do myself," Obama said.

While the primary focus of Obama's press conference was his push for Congress to act on the assorted economic matters, the president also touched on foreign policy.

Asked about Republican criticism that he had been appeasing critics of Israel — especially on the heels of the suggestion of the U.S. ambassador to Belgium that some modern anti-Semitism may be rooted in anti-Israeli sentiment, and a remark by Secretary of Denfense Leon Panetta urging the Jewish state to "get back to the damn table" and negotiate with Palestine — Obama invoked American successes in fighting the war on terror.

"Ask Osama bin Laden and the 22 out of 30 al Qaeda leaders who have been taken off the field if I engage in appeasement. Or whoever is left out there," Obama said.

He also reiterated that he was "considering all options" in response to reports that Iran was developing a nuclear weapons program.

"What I can say with respect to Iran … is that this administration has systematically imposed the toughest sanctions on Iran ever," Obama said.

"Today Iran is isolated and the world is untied," he added.