By Mike Lillis - 09/20/11 05:31 PM EDT
Republicans would rather see the country collapse than President Obama succeed, the second-ranking House Democrat charged Tuesday.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip, said the GOP's near-blanket opposition to Obama's policy proposals is evidence that many Republicans have adopted the sentiment — articulated most clearly by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnell9/11 bill is a global blunder that will weaken US efforts abroad States urged to bolster election security How the White House got rolled on the Saudi-9/11 bill MORE (R-Ky.) — that their top priority is making Obama a one-term president.
"Because if America succeeds, if jobs are created, if the economy starts growing, then some would believe that it would be to the political benefit of Barack Obama and the Democrats.
"For those folks, apparently partisanship has been promoted over cooperation or progress," Hoyer added.
Last October, McConnell raised eyebrows when he said his chief goal as Republican leader is not job creation, deficit reduction or strengthening the struggling housing market, but creating a political environment in which a Republican would win the White House next November.
"The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president," McConnell told National Journal.
The remark drew criticism even from some Republicans who accused McConnell and the GOP of "sabotaging" Congress to make it appear dysfunctional in the eyes of voters.
"By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner," Mike Lofgren, who served 16 years as a GOP aide to the House and Senate Budget committees before retiring in June, wrote this month in an online essay condemning the Republican tactics.
"Evidently Senator McConnell hates Obama more than he loves his country."
Last year, McConnell drew similar scrutiny when he helped kill a deficit-reduction bill, a proposal he'd previously characterized as the “best way to address the [budget] crisis,” after Obama endorsed it.
Hoyer on Tuesday took Republicans to task for demanding, as part of their recently issued continuing resolution, that emergency funding for natural disaster aid be offset by cuts to another program in the budget.
Hoyer also went after Republicans for running up trillions of dollars in debt when they controlled Congress and the White House but suddenly becoming fiscal hawks since the Democrats took over. The Democratic whip suggested the current downturn is a hangover from GOP’s policies under Bush.
"Notwithstanding the fact that the economic policy was totally controlled by Republicans in the first ... eight years of the decade, at the end of their economic program over which they had total control, we are faced with the deepest recession since the Great Depression," Hoyer said.
Still, despite all his criticisms of Republicans, Hoyer said he remains optimistic that the two parties can forge an agreement this fall on sweeping legislation to create jobs and rein in deficit spending.
"We are still at a point where we can reach compromise," Hoyer said.