[Tallahassee, FL] Florida’s top dog Republicans wasted no time in trying to steal President Obama’s thunder for last night’s much-anticipated speech in which he unveiled his American Jobs Act. Typically, such speeches are pivot moments for Obama, who can frame the national conversation of the topic du jour with such a big television audience.
Gov. Rick Scott’s prepared statement released just a few hours before Obama took to the air asked for the President to “provide specifics” for job creation and to send free-trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Columbia to Congress for ratification.
“Deeds are more important than words,” said Scott, echoing the words of GOP presidential hopeful U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann. “Speeches without specifics won’t fix our economy.”
Sen. Marco Rubio waited until after Obama’s speech to release a video statement (above) critical of Obama’s $447 billion plan to reduce unemployment through tax credits. Democrats would point out that Obama is already reaching across the aisle for support as his plan contains a lot of Republican-style breaks for businesses.
Maybe that’s why Rubio’s remarks weren’t as acid-tongued as they normally are. While Rubio got his jabs in, he wasn’t all punches.
“So there are some things that the President outlined that I think we can be supportive of, but my problem with this, quite frankly, is that a lot of it just won’t work,” said Rubio. “A lot of it sounds like things we’ve already tried, such as more government spending. $800 billion didn’t create jobs, how is $447 billion going to create jobs?”
Gov. Scott helps promote the “If You See Something Say Something” campaign Sept. 1
In trying to head off such criticism, Obama made sure to point out that he would draft a deficit-reduction proposal by Sept. 19 funding the American Jobs Act. The proposal would seek to address the national debt by overhauling entitlement programs and the tax code as well as deflect any criticism about the cost of the jobs bill.
It was a wise play by the President who was trying to launch pre-emptive strikes against the likes of Scott and Rubio. Although Sen. Rubio frequently talks about reforming the tax laws as a way to improve our country’s fortunes.
“Unemployment is a crisis in our country, and certainly this is not a time to become partisan or just reflect and attack everything the other side has,” said Rubio in his video reaction to Obama’s jobs speech, an attempt at pre-empting Obama’s pre-empting.
Rubio should be careful if he is to remain the Republican’s golden boy – Democrats would be quite happy to redefine tax credits and tax breaks as government spending. Of course, a tax break is government spending – the money just hasn’t changed hands yet.
As usual, Rubio plays it just outside the GOP box, which makes him all-the-more likeable by moderates and independents.
Rubio’s big issues certainly are the extension of jobless benefits for millions still unemployed, money to keep teachers working and stimulus-style spending on building and repairing schools and roads.
President Obama delivering his jobs speech
Gov. Scott also took the opportunity to lambast the President to push through three free trade agreement currently collecting dust on his desk.
“It’s long past time for President Obama to take meaningful action that includes the passage of three pending free trade agreements. For the past several years, U.S. companies, including many in Florida, have paid well over $3 billion in tariffs to Colombia and Panama for the privilege of exporting American products to those nations,” said Governor Scott.
The governor continued, “Many of those dollars could have gone a long way toward more American jobs if President Obama had sent those agreements to Congress and pushed for immediate ratification.”
The President obliged, saying that, “Now it’s time to clear the way for a series of trade agreements that would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea — while also helping the workers whose jobs have been affected by global competition,” said Obama.
“If Americans can buy Kias and Hyundais, I want to see folks in South Korea driving Fords and Chevys and Chryslers. I want to see more products sold around the world stamped with three proud words: Made in America.”
Obama has staked out somewhat of a centrist position at this juncture so it will be interesting to hear the negative commentary from both sides in the fall-out of last night’s speech. Pre-emptive strikes can only go so far against the arsenal of the 24-hour news cycle.
By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate
Images: Sen. Marco Rubio’s YouTube Channel, President Obama’s YouTube Channel, Governor’s office
Resources: Governor’s office, Sen. Marco Rubio