Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-OH is continuing to remain in the spotlight this week by taking his turn to deliver the Republican's weekly address released Saturday morning, April 26, 2014, where he turned attention towards the economy and job creation the GOP's number one priority for this midterm election year. Boehner used two terms from President Barack Obama and the Democrats' economic policy a "year of action" and "opportunity" trying to appeal and urging the Democrats to work with the House GOP and pass job creation legislation to help Americans determine their destiny and not rely on government assistance or be hampered by regulations that hinder business growth.
Boehner delivering the weekly address comes on the heels of a video emerging where delivering remarks at a luncheon held at Brown's Run County Club in Madison Township in Ohio. The speaker made fun that the reason his fellow congressman are not taking up immigration reform is because they find it to difficult a task. There he sarcastically expressed; "Here's the attitude. Ohhhh. Don't make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard." The comments caused a media storm and prompted far ranging reactions from Conservative Republicans who chastised the speaker for criticizing his party, to moderate Republicans and Democrats who found the remarks "encouraging" that the speaker might be interested in passing immigration reform this year after all. Following through with his spokesman Brendan Buck's statement that "The House's focus remains on jobs and the economy" Speaker Boehner focused the GOP Weekly Address on exactly that.
The speaker filmed the weekly address at the Hartzell Propeller plant in Piqua, Ohio. A business within the Congressional district he represents in Miami County. Roll Call summed up the speaker's address well; "he had one key message: it's time to create jobs." The speaker related Hartzell's story to the broader issue of small business, jobs and the economy. Boehner asked "I know why Americans are still asking the question 'where are the jobs?'"
The speaker recapped how the Obama administration's economic and domestic policies have not improved the lives of Americans affected by the economic collapse and recession as President Obama had promised. Boehner listed particularly the economic stimulus, and Obamacare, the health care law, the Affordable Care Act, two of Obama's most significant legislations and actions that the Republicans opposed the most, with them still opposing the health care law. Boehner stated; "For the last five years, we've had an administration in Washington that acts as if everything can be done from the top down. From the 'stimulus' to ObamaCare, it's a record littered with promises that never panned out. And pain for people trying to get by and meet a payroll."
However, according to the speaker, the House Republicans have kept their promise to their constituents, particularly regarding passing jobs creation legislation. Boehner described; "Republicans, we've kept our pledge, we've offered a new way forward. Our majority in the House has made your priorities our priorities. Boehner explained the legislation the House Republicans are working on that will help Americans, including job creation, job training programs, to lower energy costs, help small manufacturers and of courses find an alternative health care law. The speaker recounted; "And every week, we're focused on passing initiatives that would make it easier to find jobs and create jobs at places just like this. We're ready to improve job training programs so workers can acquire the right skills; expand production of American-made energy to lower costs; open new markets for small manufacturers; and repeal and replace ObamaCare."
House Speaker Boehner threw back at the president and Congressional Democrats the Obama's State of the Union address pledge to act himself through executive action if Congress does not want to work with him to pass important economic bills. Boehner offered the Democrats an olive branch asking them to work with the House Republicans to pass economic and job creations bills believing it can make a difference. The speaker reached out stated; "The president said he wanted this to be a year of bipartisan action. Well, it still can be. We just need to get his party's leaders in the Senate to take up our jobs bills. While Republicans may be the minority party in Washington, with your help, we've made some headway."
Boehner listed the legislation the GOP has passed to help Americans and the economy, including banning earmarks, cutting the deficit, preventing tax increases, helping with student loans, and passing free trade agreements. The speaker recounted; "We've banned earmarks and, for the first time since the Korean War, we've cut total federal spending for two years running. We've protected 99 percent of Americans from permanent tax increases. We've taken the politics out of student loans, making it easier to pay for college. And we've passed three free trade agreements that are already paying big dividends for our economy."
Continuing, House Speaker Boehner expressed how much more the GOP can do, if the Obama administration would make job creation, and the economy a priority; "So imagine what we could do if the powers-that-be in Washington changed course. Imagine if they stopped treating our economy like a second language and started putting jobs first." The speaker believes that job creation legislation will help Americans determine their own path.
The House GOP believes that the aggressive amount of government intervention that has been the policy of
the Obama administration is worst for Americans and the economy. Boehner thinks there is more "opportunity" using the title of the president economic program, "economic opportunity" for Americans without government regulation and interference. The speaker concluded that; "Talking with the people here, I realize we are walking towards a great opportunity. Instead of slogging on and settling, we can take the path of freedom and prosperity. It leads to an America where we, the people - not the government - shape our destiny."
The spokesman for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-CA Drew Hammill issued a statement responding and criticizing the speaker's weekly address. Hammill questioned; "Nowhere did he explain why Republicans refuse to enact comprehensive immigration reform or why Republicans have wasted so much time with 50 votes to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act. Not once did he tell us when Republicans will allow a vote to increase the minimum wage or extend unemployment insurance. …Doing nothing is not an agenda - it's a disgrace."
Speaker Boehner has been fiercely for job creation, that he has been insisting that that they be included in any unemployment benefits extension bill the House would take up for a vote. This would ensure that that long-term jobless have in the long run jobs to rely on not government assistance, so as he states they can shape their "destiny." The Senate passed the unemployment benefits extension bill on April 7, 2014. Since then the Republicans in the House have been considering adding job creating provisions to the bill to make it acceptable to Boehner, so that he would put the bill to a vote.
The most popular provision choice, by the House GOP at this moment to bring the bill to a House vote is the "Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act" (HR 803) sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C. and passed by the House in March 2013. Senator Dean Heller, R-NV, one of the Senate co-sponsors and authors of the unemployment benefits extension bill is negotiating for the Senate with the House, agrees that combining job training would be good a fit and he supports that idea just as long as the unemployment benefits extension gets passed. The SKILLS Act "streamlines" job training programs, and would provide job training to 3.7 million Americans unemployed for longer than 27 weeks. The Senate and House will resume their debates regarding jobs creation, job training bills and the unemployment benefits extension bill when they return after their two-week recess on April 28, 2014.
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. Her specializations are US, Canadian & Israeli politics.