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Thune: Obama needs to change course on economy, jobs

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) continued his party’s sharp criticism of President Obama’s economic record in the Republican weekly address, saying that the administration’s regulatory practices were overwhelming job creators and calling the president’s jobs package deeply flawed.

Thune, a member of the Senate GOP leadership, also cited the president’s own recent comments that Americans weren’t better off now than they were four years ago, and called on Obama to embrace what he called the common-sense economic solutions Republicans have embraced.

“The president is right when he says that Americans are not better off today than they were four years ago,” Thune said. “And if we’re going to get off this wrong track that he’s put us on, President Obama has got to change course.”

Thune’s comments come as Obama and congressional Democrats are prodding GOP lawmakers to get behind the president’s $447 billion jobs plan, noting that Republicans have supported many of its planks, including a payroll tax cut, in the past.

In his weekly address, Obama said Saturday that independent experts and economists support his jobs plan and demanded that Republicans prove they have a better proposal.

The South Dakota senator was also speaking after something of a topsy-turvy week in the Senate, with Democrats changing chamber rules and proposing a surtax on millionaires to help pay for the president’s jobs package. 

Either way, Thune signaled that he saw little to like in much of the president’s proposals, calling instead for fewer regulations and a beefed-up energy plan.

“It’s nothing but a rehash of the same failed ideas he’s already tried, combined with a huge tax increase,” the second-term senator said of the president's plan. “This is a cynical political ploy that’s designed not to create jobs for struggling Americans, but to save the President’s own job.”

Thune did talk up one part of the jobs plan – the three pending trade deals that the White House sent up to Congress this week – though he did so while also criticizing the president for not sending them up sooner. 

The trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama – which Thune pointedly noted were signed years ago – could get finished up as early as next week, with Lee Myung-bak, South Korea’s president, scheduled to be in Washington. 

“It’s extremely unfortunate that we had to wait so long for the president to do something so simple, to help promote American exports, and create American jobs,” the South Dakota Republican said. 

And, in what has become a common refrain from Republicans, Thune also slammed the administration for being all too eager to issue regulations – more than 61,000 pages worth this year alone, by Thune’s count.

GOP officials have singled out, among others, the Environmental Protection Agency for regulatory overreach, and Thune in the address also carped about the National Labor Relations Board’s recent complaint against Boeing. 

“Too often Washington is the problem, not the solution, and we’ve seen the results since President Obama was sworn in and started moving our country in the wrong direction,” the senator said.