By now, you have all heard it: Republican Speaker John Boehner has asked the President to postpone his jobs address from September 7, the first day Congress gets back to DC. The White House is saying that they in fact consulted Boehner's office before sending the President's request, and at the time Boehner raised no objections. But John Boehner doesn't want a jobs speech. The official reason he's showing is because, oh, you know, Congress is just going to come back from its long summer vacation on the day, and uhh, they need to ease into their part time job with a full time salary and benefits paid for by the American taxpayer. No, I'm not kidding. Here's what the Speaker actually said in his letter:
[A]s the Majority Leader announced more than a month ago, the House will not be in session until Wednesday, September 7, with votes at 6:30 that evening. 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.I mean, really? That's Boehner's official response to the President's request to address the Congress? His official response is basically that "we're too busy and important to move our behinds and move up or reschedule a vote so that the American people can hear what the President of the United States has to say about creating jobs in an economy like this?" His official response is basically that an address on the most important issue of this time needs to wait so Congress can ease back into session after their vacation? REALLY?
Of course we all know the real reason why he suddenly changed his mind: because there is a Republican presidential dog-and-pony-show, I mean debate, scheduled the night of September 7, when President Obama has asked to address a joint session of Congress.
This should end any doubts whatsoever that the Republicans in the House are not just disrespecting the office of the President of the United States, they are insulting the American people. How many of you are just coming out of a one-month vacation? If you are, how many of you have the luxury to ease into your job when you go back and not actually do any work till, you know, 6:30 pm? That is, if you are even lucky enough to have a job. And here is the Republican Speaker of the House, basically telling us all to go to hell, because a jobs address by the President might pose minor inconveniences for the schedule of the body that just spent a month vacationing on the taxpayer dime. And you thought they cared about your jobs. Feh.
And just what is the response of the Republican presidential candidates, who have been clamoring for the President to call Congress back to session ahead of time so they can get to work on jobs? Now the Speaker of the House from your party is telling the President he can't address jobs even on the day Congress is back.
Here are some suggestions, Mr. Speaker. Bring the House back a day early if you need to. Reschedule the damn votes. Do what you need to do to receive the President at the time he requested. Not just because the President's time is valuable, although it is. But because the American people should not have to put up with the whims of Congress' lavish vacation schedule that we pay for while we are hurting. Let the President speak!
QUICK UPDATE: Everyone, please listen carefully. No one is particularly happy that the President was forced to push the speech back according to Boehner's demand. But there are a couple of things we all need to keep in mind. First, the President is not a member of Congress, and the Speaker has near unitary powers over the schedule of the House. The President has to be invited to speak. He can't just go on capitol hill and speak. It is not like the President had a choice. Just as members of Congress can't just go up to the White House and demand to meet with the President on any given day, neither can the President just march down to Congress and demand to speak when he's not scheduled.
Second, that Boehner forced this move only speaks more to Boehner's petulance and his arrogance. It demonstrates the Republican lack of concern for American jobs. Let's keep our eyes on that ball, folks. Politically, this is a potent weapon for the President and the Democrats. The media can say what they want, but remember that the media has pushed plenty that "compromise" means weakness and yet somehow, as I noted yesterday, compromise broke through as the catchphrase among voters. Have faith in this president. He's not about to mess it up.