- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 16, 2011

PEOSTA, Iowa — A day after clashing with a tea party activist, President Obama Tuesday told crowds here that it was “a faction in Congress” that was to blame for blocking economic progress.

At a rural jobs forum, Mr. Obama ticked off a list of pending bills that he said would create jobs.

“The only thing that’s preventing us from passing the bills I just mentioned is the refusal of a faction in Congress to put country ahead of party,” the president said in a thinly veiled reference to House Republicans backed by the tea party. “That has to stop.”

At a town-hall meeting Monday night in Decorah, Iowa, Mr. Obama was confronted by Ryan Rhodes, a leader of the tea party in this state. Mr. Rhodes told the president that his calls for civility were meaningless while Democrats such as Vice President Joseph R. Biden have referred to tea party members as “terrorists.”

President Obama speaks during a Rural Economic Forum on Aug. 16, 2011, at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, during his three-day bus tour devoted to the economy. (Associated Press)
President Obama speaks during a Rural Economic Forum on Aug. 16, 2011, ... more >

The president said he agreed with Mr. Rhodes that “everybody needs to try to tone down the rhetoric.”

Mr. Rhodes continued his animated conversation with the president on the rope line after the event, and told reporters he believes the president is a socialist.

Less than 24 hours later, however, Mr. Obama singled out conservative House Republicans for essentially being disloyal Americans by blocking his agenda.

At every stop on this three-day bus tour of Midwestern swing states, Mr. Obama has urged audiences to pressure Republican lawmakers to adopt his proposals or to defeat them at the polls in 2012.

“I want to enlist your help,” Mr. Obama told a small tickets-only audience in Peosta. “I need your help sending a message to Congress, it’s time to put politics aside and get something done.”

Congressional Republicans point out that the administration and the Democrat-led Senate are blocking many GOP initiatives to create jobs, including proposals to advance an oil pipeline from Canada and to cut government regulations.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said Tuesday that the White House should send a series of stalled trade pacts to the Senate for approval.

“It is my hope that the president, who continues to refuse to send these agreements to Congress while simultaneously calling for Congress to act, will finally resolve this contradiction by sending the agreements immediately — and that he’ll work with us on the extension of Trade Promotion Authority so that we can continue to expand opportunities for American entrepreneurs and our farmers and ranchers,” Mr. McConnell said in a statement.

Mr. Obama expressed urgency about the unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, saying “time is running out.” But time may also be short for his reelection prospects if the jobless rate remains high. No president in the past 50 years has been reelected with an unemployment rate of more than 7.2 percent.

The president said he will propose in September a specific plan to boost the economy, and he is challenging audiences to tell Republican lawmakers on their August recess to support his upcoming plan.

Story Continues →