Two hours after President Barack Obama cited Rev. Martin Luther King’s advice that Americans not question each other’s love of country, his spokesman demanded that GOP legislators “put country before party” by ending their opposition to the president’s spending plans.
Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest made the demand during an afternoon press conference called to tout the president’s three-day bus tour through counties in swing-states Virginia and North Carolina.
The bus tour starts Monday and is intended to magnify the media’s coverage of poll-tested provisions in Obama’s proposed $446 billion, one-year stimulus bill, the American Jobs Act. For example, the measure seeks the expenditure of $35 billion to employ up to 400,000 teachers for the year prior to Obama’s reelection vote.
But GOP legislators say the stimulus is an inefficient use of borrowed funds, that its tax-boosting provisions would stymie economic growth and that it would be followed by a recessionary cut-off of spending unless the federal government continued to borrow more funds. They say the economy — and teachers’ employment prospects — would be increased by a rollback of federal regulations and an increased emphasis on free-market growth.
The bus tour will pressure legislators to “pass the bill, this week, to protect the job of a North Carolina teacher, or come down here, look her in the eye, and explain why … [they] don’t want to ask millionaires and billionaires to pay a little more,” Earnest said. It is time, Earnest demanded, that legislators “put country before party.”
Earnest told The Daily Caller that his demand did not violate the president’s call for comity during the formal unveiling of the new statue of Rev. King.
“If [King] were alive today … he would want us to know we can argue fiercely about the proper size and role of government without questioning each other’s love for this country,” Obama declared.
“The word patriotism did not come out of my mouth … what the president is calling on Democrats and Republicans to do [is support] the best interests of the country,” Earnest said.
Obama regularly violates Dr. King’s recommendation. Since GOP legislators rebuffed his demands in August for additional taxes, he has repeatedly denounced GOP opposition to his progressive policies as putting “party before country.”
On August 20, for example, Obama said his “commonsense ideas” are being held back by “the refusal by some in Congress to put country ahead of party. That’s the problem right now. That’s what’s holding this country back. That’s what we have to change.”
On Oct. 4, in a speech at the Democratic fundraiser in St. Louis, Missouri, Obama accused his opponents of putting partisan interests before the country’s good. “We need to pass this [stimulus] bill now. And if the American people see Washington putting their needs first, putting country before party, thinking about their constituencies, that’s going to give people confidence, that’s going to restore a sense of hope,” he said.