President Barack Obama said Wednesday that Republicans are trying to distract America from its economic problems by pushing “phony scandals,” echoing a line repeatedly used this week by White House press secretary Jay Carney.
“With an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball,” Obama said, according to prepared remarks released by the White House prior to his economic speech Wednesday at Knox College in Illinois. “And I am here to say this needs to stop. Short-term thinking and stale debates are not what this moment requires.”
Obama’s statement echoes a line repeatedly used by Carney to describe the IRS targeting scandal and other Obama administration headaches, including the National Security Agency surveillance and the Benghazi terrorist attack.
“The president will go back to Galesburg, Ill., today to deliver a speech about where we need to move the economy, what we should be focusing on here in Washington. And it shouldn’t be on the skirmishes that cause gridlock, it shouldn’t be on the phony scandals that have consumed so much attention here, all to come to naught,” Carney said on MSNBC Wednesday morning.
“I think what we’ve seen is inappropriate activity that the president came out and forcefully said he would not tolerate,” Carney said, referring to the growing IRS targeting scandal. “What we have seen from Republicans is cherry-picked information, based on investigations, that turns out to be only one side of the story.”
“I greatly appreciate that that is the line that is being pushed by Republicans who want Washington to be focused on scandals instead of the economy,” Carney added.
Carney previously used the “phony scandals” line in a press conference Monday. He also referred to “fake scandals” during that press conference.
Obama offered few specific examples of his second-term economic plan in the speech Wednesday, but noted that his administration is on its way to fully implementing Obamacare and criticized the “politically motivated disinformation campaign” aiming to stifle its implementation. Obama also said, “It’s time for the minimum wage to go up.”
Obama said that his plan to offer free preschool to American four-year-olds — which he previously announced he would pay for by taxing tobacco companies that “harm our young people” — will help the economy.
Obama will expound upon the specifics of his economic plan in a later speech, according to Carney.
“Today’s speech is sort of a higher-altitude speech that takes a broad look at where we’ve been and where we need to go with our economy in a way that’s focused on the middle class,” Carney told a reporter aboard Air Force One Wednesday on the way to the Knox College speech. “The speech at University of Central Missouri and then the speech in Jacksonville, will largely amplify what the president says today at Knox College. After that he will, as we’ve said, give additional speeches focused on aspects of the economy that we can address. And those speeches will have specifics and will have new ideas and both proposals that can be worked on together with Congress, and actions that the president can take using his executive authority and actions he can take through working with outside stakeholders. So that’s sort of the way this will roll out.”