Obama chides GOP leader: ‘Obstruct more? Is that even possible?’

President Obama chided the Senate’s top Republican on Monday for suggesting this weekend that Republicans wish they’d done a better job blocking parts of the president’s agenda.

The president seized on remarks made by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in an article published Sunday in the New York Times, framing McConnell’s remarks as emblematic of political opportunism by the GOP.

“Obstruct more? Is that even possible?” Obama asked supporters in reference to McConnell’s remarks at a fundraiser in Wisconsin, according to a pool report.

“I wish we had been able to obstruct more,” McConnell told the Times in comments about the Democrats’ success in moving an economic stimulus package, healthcare reform and Wall Street reform. “These were all major pieces of legislation, and if I would have had enough votes to stop them, I would have.”

Democrats quickly seized on the remarks on Monday out of a sense that the minority leader’s words give them a chance to underscore the work Republicans have done to slow down or block his agenda.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, said that Republicans did oppose the three major items — not out of opportunism, but out of principle.

“Like most Americans, Senate Republicans opposed a government takeover of healthcare, a bill that nearly every week we learn won’t reduce healthcare costs for families, but will take a half-trillion dollars out of Medicare while kicking seniors off the plans they like and raising taxes on small business,” Stewart said. 

“And we did work to prevent the failed stimulus bill that was supposed to keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent, yet only succeeded in adding a trillion dollars to the national debt. And we did work to stop their version of the financial regulation bill — since it was endorsed by Wall Street and will hurt small businesses across the country.”

Obama’s criticial comments came during a fundraiser for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who is the Democratic party’s candidate for governor this fall.

“We can’t go back to an attitude that says ‘what’s good for me is good enough.’ We have to ask what’s good for America,” the president said, hammering on themes echoed by many Democrats this fall warning against a return to Republican control of Congress.

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