Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Obama reschedules Congress speech after Boehner objects

US President Barack Obama President Obama had been expecting to address both chambers on 7 September
President Barack Obama has agreed to reschedule a Congressional speech on the economy, after objections from House Speaker John Boehner.

President Obama wanted to outline his much-anticipated jobs creation plan next Wednesday evening, which clashed with a Republican debate.

Mr Boehner requested Mr Obama speak a day later instead, and the White House has agreed to his recommendation.

US unemployment - still over 9% - could dominate 2012's presidential elections.

The White House had earlier insisted the primetime speech's scheduling clash with a televised Republican 2012 debate at the Ronald Reagan Library in California next Wednesday evening was "coincidental".


The situation is certainly urgent. The US economy is barely growing - 14 million Americans are out of work and the housing market remains in a slump.

And yet the president seems to have fewer and fewer options to revive the flagging recovery.
The US government is in debt. The obvious plan of spending government money to generate demand and create jobs will not gain political support. That means a 1930s-style major works programme seems unlikely.

President Obama has hinted at some new measures. He has discussed keeping in place a payroll tax cut for businesses, an infrastructure bank to support building projects and new trade agreements.

None of those ideas is likely to make a serious dent in the 9.1% unemployment rate, though. Unless Mr Obama has something new and credible, the disappointment amongst Americans could be great.

The Republican-controlled House and the Senate, where Democrats hold sway, would have needed to pass resolutions allowing the joint Congressional session for the president.
"It is my intention to lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy," Mr Obama said in a letter to Congressional leaders on Wednesday.

"Washington needs to put aside politics and start making decisions based on what is best for our country and not what is best for each of our parties in order to grow the economy and create jobs."

Mr Boehner had replied several hours later recommending Mr Obama's speech take place instead a day later.

He did not mention the Republican debate as a reason for his proposed reschedule, citing instead votes scheduled for the House's first day back after recess and the need for a subsequent three-hour security sweep.

Mr Boehner replied to the president: "It is my recommendation that your address be held on the following evening, when we can ensure there will be no parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract from your remarks.

"I respectfully invite you to address a Joint Session of Congress on Thursday, September 8, 2011 in the House Chamber, at a time that works best for your schedule."

The move was confirmed in a statement by White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday evening.

"We consulted with the Speaker about that date before the letter was released, but he determined Thursday would work better," said Mr Carney's statement.

"The president is focused on the urgent need to create jobs and grow our economy, so he welcomes the opportunity to address a Joint Session of Congress on Thursday, September 8th."

Moving the joint address to Thursday means the president's speech will now clash with the opening NFL game between the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers at 20:30pm EST (00:30 GMT).
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