By Russell Berman - 11/02/11 03:06 PM EDT
It’s safe to say Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) does not agree with President Obama’s suggestion on Tuesday that Americans are better off now than they were when he took office.
“Are you kidding me?!” Boehner said loudly in response to a reporter’s question on the comment. “Why don’t you go ask the 14 million Americans who are out of work whether they’re better off today than they were four years ago?”
“Well, you know, I think we are better off now than we would have been if I hadn't taken all the steps that we took,” the president replied. "I don't think the country is stronger yet than it was when the economy was still booming and we didn't have Wall Street crisis, and we didn't have the housing bubble burst. But, we've made steady progress, we just need to make more."
Boehner spoke to reporters after a conference meeting in which he rallied House Republicans around the message that while the lower chamber is taking action on jobs legislation, the Senate is dithering and the president is campaigning.
Citing the so-called “Forgotten 15” House-passed bipartisan bills that have been shelved in the Senate, Boehner told his conference, according to a source in the room: “These jobs bills are stuck in the Senate because we have a president who is disengaged from the legislative process. Instead of engaging in the legislative process, the president has been campaigning. If the president would get more engaged and call on the Senate to get moving, there’s a lot more we could get done this year on jobs for the American people.”
Democrats counter that the legislation Republicans have hyped would do little for job creation. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) also took up the message Wednesday in a floor speech.
“Unlike the president and the Democrats who run the Senate, House Republicans are designing legislation to pass, rather than fail,” McConnell said. “They want to make a difference rather than a point. And the only thing keeping these bills from becoming law is the fact that Democrats in the Senate won’t take them up.”