Obama attacks Congress from France

Neil Munro | White House Correspondent

Republicans’ economic proposals are inflexible, insincere, selfish and motivated by the pursuit of partisan advantage rather than by a concern for Americans, according to President Barack Obama’s statements to an international press conference at the G-20 meeting Friday morning.

“As soon as I get some signal from Congress that they’re willing to take their responsibilities seriously, I think we can do more [for the economy], but that is going to require them to break out of the rigid ideological positions they’ve been taking,” he told the assembled media in Cannes, France.

Obama’s 20-minute speech dismissed Republicans’ opposition to extra business taxes. “They’ve said that that, ‘We prefer to protect 300,000 [wealthy] people rather than put hundreds of thousands of people back to work and benefit 300 million Americans who are hurting because of slow growth,’” Obama declared.

The president has frequently argued that Republicans put “party before country,” and he repeated that charge to the international audience Friday. “We can solve all our problems, grow our economy, put people back to work and reduce out deficit … it’s just a matter of setting politics aside, and constantly remembering the election is one year away,” he said.

Obama’s condemnations of the GOP were delivered in a relaxed style that muted the harshness of his accusations.

That mixture of hard rhetoric and soft delivery is a staple of Obama’s style, and may serve to partially insulate him from the public’s normally negative reaction to aggressive rhetoric.

Obama’s ramped up attacks on Republicans may galvanize his base, but they may also backfire, alienating independents.

The stalled economy has pummeled Obama’s support among crucial independent voters. For example, a new Gallup/USA Today poll shows that 60 percent of independent voters in 12 critical swing states believe that they are worse off than in 2008. That poor standing among these voters will pose a great challenge to the president’s re-election chances in 2012.

Attacks by Obama, his supporters and deputies have also become more strident and personal of late.

Jared Bernstein, a former economic adviser in the administration, today accused the Republican Congress of living “in a fantasy land, wallowing in a well-deserved 9 percent approval rating, and blocking every idea that might actually stimulate some job growth.”

Since Sunday, employees for the Democratic National Committee have sent out two emails jeering at Gov. Mitt Romney for cowardice. Both emails were titled “Chicken Mitt.”

Last Sunday, David Plouffe said Romney has “no core,” and the claim was reiterated the next day by White House spokesman Jay Carney. “Mr. Plouffe works for the White House, so I would say that his views represent the White House’s views,” Carney said Monday.

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