Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs in an interview Tuesday morning with MSNBC said President Obama had abandoned his goal of attempting to reshape Washington into a less partisan and divided town.
The White House has said that President Obama will use Tuesday's State of the Union address to outline ways that the president can use executive actions and the bully pulpit to compel policy changes when Congress will not act. Obama will announce pledges from top employers not to discriminate against the long term-unemployed, as well as a new requirement for federal contractors to pay new employees at least $10.10 per hour.
“I do think that this is a story of Washington dysfunction,” Gibbs said. “Everything in this speech is what the public wants to hear. The public just doesn’t simply think that this group of people assembled in this room is remotely capable of solving those problems.”
The former top Obama adviser went on to say that the "test of this speech" would be whether they felt like Obama "has a plan to get some of those things done, or is this just another speech out of Washington."
Republicans have criticized the president's new approach, with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) telling the same network that Obama was practicing the "politics of division."
"What we're hearing in this speech is 'if you don't want to do what I want I'm going to do it through executive order,' " Coburn said. "And, again, that's creating a division in the country that says 'Congress is bad and I'm good.' "
In a separate interview with CNN, White House adviser Valerie Jarrett said the move was within the president's "control, comfortably, to sign that executive order" and "not intended to be provocative."
"I think it's all about the president saying he's going to take action," Jarrett said. "He's also going to continue to work with Congress wherever he can."