Political Buzz August 31, 2011: Speaker John Boehner Requests that President Barack Obama Change September 7 Date for Obama’s Joint Session of Congress for Jobs Speech — Conflicts with GOP Presidential Candidates Debate


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.




Full Text: President Barack Obama’s Letter to Congress & Speaker John Boehner’s Response

Obama requests joint session of Congress for jobs speech: President Obama has requested a joint session of Congress Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. ET to deliver a speech on jobs and the deficit, White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer announced Tuesday via Twitter. A GOP presidential debate hosted by NBC and Politico is also scheduled that night.

“It is our responsibility to find bipartisan solutions to help grow our economy, and if we are willing to put country before party, I am confident we can do just that.” — Obama wrote Wednesday in a letter to Boehner and Reid

“If they see one side not willing to work with the other to move the country forward, then that’s what elections are all about. So we’re going to be in a struggle for probably the next 16, 17 months.” — Obama said in an interview with talk radio host Tom Joyner this week

“Sen. Reid welcomes President Obama to address Congress any day of the week.” Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader

“BarackObama request to give jobs speech the same night as GOP Presidential debate is further proof this WH is all politics all the time.” — Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus criticized Obama for seeking to schedule his address at the same time as a Republican presidential debate in the Reagan Library in California.

“Obviously, one debate of many that’s on one channel of many was not enough reason not to have the speech at the time that we decided to have it.” — White House spokesman Jay Carney

“The most immediate gain is he deflates a very big Republican balloon, which is that debate. It also imprints this with the kind of gravity that even a prime speech would not have. There is a ceremonial aspect to it that underscores the symbolic power of the presidency….
If you’re going to set a table for a state banquet, you better have a pretty elaborate meal.” — Ross Baker, a congressional expert at Rutgers University

“The risks are you are upping the ante, and it’s going to invite the response. All the action is in the reaction.” — Patrick Griffin, former White House legislative director under President Bill Clinton

    • Obama, Boehner spar on timing of big jobs speech: In a sudden political shoving match, President Barack Obama asked Congress to convene an extraordinary joint session next Wednesday to hear his much-anticipated proposals to put jobless Americans back to work, but House Speaker John Boehner balked and told the president he ought to wait and speak a day later.
      If Obama gets his way, his speech will upstage a Republican presidential debate scheduled for the same time. If Boehner prevails, the president’s address could conflict with the opening game of the National Football League season. There was no immediate resolution to the sparring match…. – AP, 8-31-11

“It is my intention to lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy.
“Washington needs to put aside politics and start making decisions based on what is best for our country and not what is best for each of our parties in order to grow the economy and create jobs.
We must answer this call.” — President Obama in a letter to top congressional leaders

“It is my recommendation that your address be held on the following evening, September 8 when we can ensure there will be no parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract from your remarks.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner Reply to President Obama

“It’s unfortunate the White House ignored decades — if not centuries — of the protocol of working out a mutually agreeable date and time before making any public announcement.” — Brendan Buck, a spokesman for the speaker, said no one had signed off on the date before Obama’s public request arrived

    • Obama, Boehner in test of wills on jobs speech: US President Barack Obama and his top Republican foe feuded over a date to debut a new White House jobs plan Wednesday, as trust between Washington’s most powerful men sank to a new low.
      Kicking off an extraordinary showdown, Obama asked for a rare joint session of Congress to unveil his new assault on 9.1 percent unemployment on September 7 — at the exact same time as a Republican presidential debate in California.
      Keen not to be outmaneuvered, House Speaker John Boehner wrote a public letter back to the president within four hours, saying logistical issues meant his preferred date was not available and offered the following night…. – AFP, 8-31-11
    • President Obama to Address Congress on Jobs and Economy on Sept. 7: President Obama is requesting a joint session of Congress for next Wednesday — at 8 p.m., exactly the same time as the scheduled Republican presidential debate, as it happens — to give a much anticipated speech outlining his proposals to boost employment and the economy.
      In a letter to the leaders of both houses of Congress on Wednesday, Mr. Obama said it is his “intention to lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy by strengthening small businesses, helping Americans get back to work, and putting more money in the paychecks of the middle class and working Americans.”
      That Mr. Obama was going to make his speech next week was expected. But it is remarkable that he would choose to do so in such an elevated setting, and at the same time that Republican candidates for president will be laying out their own vision for how to get the country out of the economic doldrums. NYT, 8-31-11
    • Speech Stunt Backfires on Obama After Boehner Boxes Him In: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has asked President Obama to address a joint-session of Congress on Thursday, Sept. 8, when it wouldn’t conflict with the Republican presidential debate.
      Citing logistical difficulties, Boehner requested that Obama hold his jobs address, which Obama wants to deliver next Wednesday, one day later.
      The Speaker’s letter made no mention of the more obvious conflict: between the president’s speech, and a Republican presidential debate scheduled on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. EST. That debate is the first of the post-Labor Day political season, and the first one in which Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is set to participate.
      The response by Boehner sets up an early showdown between Obama and the Congress just returning from its August recess……. – Fox News, 8-31-11

“Once you decide you want to do a speech to Congress and you have to deal with congressional schedules … there are many other factors here. And obviously, one debate of many that’s on one channel of many was not enough reason not to have the speech at the time that we decided to have it.
There’s one president; there’s 20 some-odd debates…. The candidates might enjoy the prospect of responding to the president” — Press Secretary Jay Carney

“We’re thrilled that we now have a terrific opportunity to hear from national leaders of both major parties about the most pressing domestic issues facing the country.” — NBC and Politico joint statement

“President Obama’s decision to address Congress at the same time as a long-scheduled Republican presidential debate cements his reputation as campaigner-in-chief.” — Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus

    • GOP sees politics in timing of Obama speech: The White House says it’s “coincidental” that President Obama’s planned address to Congress next Wednesday conflicts with a debate for GOP presidential candidates. Others aren’t so sure.
      Just moments after the administration announced the president was requesting a rare joint-session address to roll out his long-awaited jobs plan, press secretary Jay Carney was peppered with questions about what some viewed as a curious bit of counter-programming…. – LAT, 8-31-11

“With the significant amount of time – typically more than three hours – that is required to allow for a security sweep of the House Chamber before receiving a President, it is my recommendation that your address be held on the following evening, when we can ensure there will be no parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract from your remarks.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“This turn of events offers a great opportunity for both the candidates and the audience of the debate. It raises the profile of the whole evening and in many ways makes it the first general election debate of the 2012 cycle.” — John F. Harris, Politico’s editor-in-chief and co-moderator for the debate

    • President Obama, Potential Opponents (Will Not) Compete for Air Time: Speaker of the House John Boehner has moved to prevent Obama from addressing the Congress on Wednesday Sept 7., asking for the speech to be delayed a day due to logisitical issues. Boehner wrote a letter to the president in which he said that because the House will not be in session until the day itself, and with a vote scheduled for 6:30 p.m., there will not be sufficient time for a thorough security sweep of the House chamber…. – Reuters, 8-31-11
    • After Boehner Rebuffs Obama, Email Sniping Begins: Partisan rancor was alive and well on Capitol Hill Wednesday, as staffers jockeyed to spin reporters on who has behaved more childishly
      On Wednesday afternoon, President Obama asked to address a joint session of Congress next Wednesday, the same night Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to hold a nationally televised debate. House Speaker John Boehner rejected him, proposing Thursday instead in his own letter back to the president. The House will open its session late in the day, and there might not be enough time for a pre-presidential security sweep of the Capitol, Boehner suggested…. – The Atlantic, 8-31-11
    • Reaction to White House speech big-footing: Politico has decided to air its debate following the president’s job speech on Sept. 7. The Republican contenders will have the opportunity to, in essence, test their rebuttal skills against the president. Whoever can use the opportunity to his or her advantage, not only bashing President Obama but showing how fit a competitor he or she would be, will get a nice boost…. – WaPo, 8-31-11

“Governor Perry looks forward to talking about his plans to get America working again. Another speech by President Obama will have no impact on the debate.” — Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s spokesman Mark Miner had this reaction via e-mail

“Next Wednesday night TV viewers will have a choice between Republican candidates talking about the future of America, or Barack Obama talking about the future of his presidency.” — Mitt Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann suggests President Obama fears the message she and the rest of the GOP candidates will deliver at a debate next week in California.
Bachmann spoke to a small crowd in a Des Moines park earlier this evening, telling the group Obama was showing his “insecurity” by trying to schedule an address to the nation on September 7. That’s the same night as the Republican candidate debate at the Reagan Library in California. According to Bachmann, Obama either wants to distract the American people or he doesn’t want the American people to hear the Republican candidates critique Obama’s job creation record.
“He hasn’t exactly delivered on his promises for jobs. Is that an understatement?” Bachmann asked the crowd, which let out a sort of collective grumble before she answered her own question with: “I think so.” — Politico, 8-31-11

“Speaker Boehner did the right thing, and we thank him for it. When this subject initially came up, it was Congressman Paul’s campaign who initiated talk of objecting to the President’s plan calling a joint session at this time and we are glad to see the Speaker of the House seize the initiative.
We needed an economic plan from the President two years ago, but he has waited far too long to assert any sort of true leadership. Instead President Obama has continued to play politics and not deal with the real issues this country faces.” — Ron Paul 2012 Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton

    • Paul Campaign Applauds Boehner for Requesting Change of Day for Obama Joint Session Speech Paul initiated talk of objecting to President’s call for a joint session: Today, the campaign of 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul released a statement applauding Speaker of the House John Boehner for requesting that President Obama change his plans for a joint session of Congress in order to give a speech laying out his economic plan on the same day as a Republican presidential debate. See comments from Paul campaign spokesman below…. – Marketwatch, 8-31-11

“It’s pretty blatant. As millions of Americans remain unemployed each month, President Obama has put put the nation on hold for his jobs plan so he could go on a taxpayer-funded campaign bus tour, go on vacation and then maximize the political timing of his speech.” — — A Republican operative sneered at the White House’s excuse that the timing conflict was inadvertent

  • Obama’s coming job-creation proposals already drawing fire: Under pressure to move the needle on the nation’s stubborn unemployment rate, President Barack Obama is expected to call next week for a package of job-creating proposals that include extending a payroll tax break for the middle class and rebuilding the nation’s aging bridges, roads, schools and airports.
    But with Democrats and Republicans in Congress at odds all year on how to create jobs, there’s little evidence that their impasse will break anytime soon…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 8-31-11
  • Obama-Boehner speech spat should worry Democrats: When you thought Washington couldn’t get any lower, now the two parties are squabbling over when the president can speak to Congress. The White House asked if President Obama could address a joint session on Sept. 7 at 8:00 p.m., the same night and time as the next Republican presidential debate. House Speaker John Boehner, citing scheduled votes that would make a security sweep before the president’s speech impossible, asked the White House to move the speech to Sept. 8. Should this even be a story at all? No, of course not, but the whole episode should still have Democrats concerned…. – WaPo, 8-31-11
  • No debating Obama’s hard-core move on jobs plan: That was one bad-ass move by President Obama. For weeks, MSNBC has been showing commercials for the first post-Labor Day presidential debate with all of the declared Republican candidates. Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. This afternoon, the White House announced the date and time when Obama would release his long-awaited jobs plan. Sept. 7 at 8 p.m.
    But, wait. There’s more. Obama will do it before a joint session of Congress. While the folks onstage at the Reagan Library try to look presidential in the eyes of viewers and voters, Obama’s address in the House chamber communicates clearly, “I AM the president of the United States.” Whether intentional or not — and I agree with The Fix, coincidences don’t happen in presidential politics — it’s a go-big maneuver…. – WaPo, 8-31-11
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