The White House on Friday engaged in a back and forth over the stimulus with the youngest member of the House, 27-year old Rep. Aaron Schock, Illinois Republican.
One day after Schock flew on Air Force One with President Obama, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was slapping at Schock’s statement criticizing the $787 billion stimulus.
And a Schock spokesman slapped right back.
The public spat originated out of Obama’s visit yesterday to a Caterpillar plant in Peoria, Ill. As Obama ran through the list of elected officials in attendance, he called on Schock, whose district includes Peoria and who had flown with the president on Air Force One from Washington, to stand up.
“Stand up, Aaron. Aaron’s still trying to make up his mind about our recovery package,” Obama said, as the crowd murmured.
“We know that all of you are going to talk to him after our event, because he is a very talented young man,” Obama said, as some in the audience shouted in apparent agreement with the president’s instructions. “I’ve got great confidence in him to do the right thing for the people of Peoria.”
“It is time for Congress to act, and I hope they act in a bipartisan fashion,” Obama said.
Schock, who voted along with every single one of his Republican colleagues against the stimulus the first time it passed the House last week, took to the House floor today to explain the results of the president’s challenge to him and to the Caterpillar employees (video here).
“I found it very interesting that after the President finished his speech and I stayed around, not one employee at that facility approached me and asked me to vote for this bill,” Schock said. “In fact, I have received over 1,400 phone calls, e-mails, and letters from Caterpillar employees alone asking me to oppose this legislation.”
“Why? Because they get it. They know that this bill is not stimulus. They know that this bill will not do anything to create long-term, sustained economic growth,” he said.
Gibbs, the White House press secretary, was asked about Schock’s comments during the regular daily briefing today.
“I think if the Congressman goes and looks at the bill through an economic lens … not just through a political one, I think he’ll see benefits not just for his district and his state but for the entire country,” Gibbs said.
Schock spokesman Dave Natonski shot back, “Congressman Schock was looking through an economic lens when he voted against the stimulus package, as it doesn’t take an economic expert to realize this so-called stimulus package was nothing more than wasteful, pork-barreled spending that would stimulate the government, not the economy.”
- Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times