President Obama on Saturday vowed to continue using his executive authority whenever possible this year, but Republicans countered that the commander in chief’s lack of action on Ukraine hurts the U.S. at home and abroad.
In his weekly address, the president took pointed shots at the House GOP and said Republican leaders are standing in the way of economic growth. It’s the latest example of Democrats’ concerted effort to paint themselves as the party of action heading into November’s midterm elections, with the president specifically touting the nearly two dozen times he’s used executive authority this year.
Those actions, Mr. Obama said, are necessary because of Republicans’ refusal to work with him on economic issues.
“We need to keep going — to create more good jobs, and give middle-class families a sense of security. And I want to work with Congress to do it,” he said. “But so far this year, Republicans in Congress have blocked or voted down every serious idea to create jobs and strengthen the middle class. They’ve said ‘no’ to raising the minimum wage, ‘no’ to equal pay for equal work, and ‘no’ to restoring the unemployment insurance they let expire for more than two million Americans looking for a new job. That’s not what we need right now. Not when there are still too many folks out of work and too many families working harder than ever just to get by.”
In addition to Mr. Obama’s comments on Saturday, top White House officials on Friday held a conference call to remind voters of the president’s executive actions on raising the minimum wage to $10.10 for all federal contractors, strengthening workers’ overtime protections and compelling business leaders to offer money to enhance technology in America’s classrooms.
Republicans in recent months have countered the administration’s strategy by continuing to point out the problems with Obamacare in the hopes the health-care reform law’s unintended consequences will lead to GOP victories at the ballot box this fall.
But on Saturday, Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, took a different tack and directly attacked the president’s leadership on the crisis in Ukraine.
“Today, foreign policy is an important part of domestic policy and our economic well being is deeply dependent on our national security. The problem is President Obama doesn’t seem to understand this. Instead of shaping world events, he has often simply reacted to them. And instead of a foreign policy based on strategy, his foreign policy is based on politics,” Mr. Rubio said. “President Obama talks tough about [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, but his actions have not gone far enough to change Putin’s calculation that the benefits of his aggression outweigh the costs.”
Mr. Rubio’s criticism comes a day after the president promised further economic sanctions against Russia if it does not cease fomenting unrest and violence in eastern Ukraine.
The new government in Kiev this week launched its first military offensive against pro-Russian separatists, leading to a new round of violence and more bloodshed ahead of Ukrainian elections on May 25.
Thus far, Russian leaders appear undaunted by the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its European allies.