As you may have seen, Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans joined forces
earlier today to condemn President Obama for an out-of-context snippet from his press conference earlier today about the need for congressional action to strengthen the economy.
Referring to job growth relative to the public sector, Obama had said "the private sector is doing fine" ... which Republicans promptly twisted into a claim that Obama had said the economy as a whole was doing fine. Given that Obama's press conference was about ways to strengthen the economy, that was an obviously absurd way to interpret his remarks, a point he made clear this afternoon:
“It’s absolutely clear the economy is not doing fine,” the president said while sitting alongside Philippines President Benigno Aquino in the Oval Office. “That’s the reason I had a press conference. That’s why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger. The economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak, too many homes underwater and that’s precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference.”
Decrying the “political games” that in his view necessitated the further elucidation, the president said “if you look at what I said this morning” what he was specifically addressed was that “we’ve actually seen some good momentum in the private sector. That has not been the biggest drag on the economy.”
He then threw down the gauntlet, telling Romney and Republicans that if they are serious about growing the economy, they have a responsibility to support something other than yet another round of tax cuts for the wealthy:
“So let me be as clear as I can be: the economy needs to be strengthened,” the president said, “that’s why I had a press conference. I believe that there are a lot of Americans who are hurting right now, which is what I’ve been saying for the last year, two years, three years. What I’ve been saying since I came into office. And the question then is what are we going to do about it?”
The president said “what I’m interested in hearing from Congress and Mr. Romney is what steps are they willing to take right now that are going to make an actual difference. And so far what we’ve heard are additional tax cuts that the folks who are doing fine as opposed to taking steps that would actually help deal with the weaknesses in the economy and promote the economic growth that we’d all like to see.”
Unfortunately, President Obama won't be hearing anything anytime soon, because the one thing Romney and Congressional Republicans don't want to see before November is a growing economy.