President Obama took a series of shots at GOP lawmakers on Monday over their opposition to White House-backed construction spending that is aimed at repairing the nation’s infrastructure.
Speaking to the Building and Construction Trades Department Legislative Conference in downtown Washington, Obama chided congressional Republicans for rejecting a $447 billion package the White House put forth last year.
“Over the last year, I’ve sent Congress a whole series of jobs bills that would have put your members back to work,” the president said to a friendly audience comprised of labor officials. ”But time after time, Republicans have gotten together and said “no.”
The president assailed House Republicans for refusing to go along with the highway bill that cleared the Senate earlier this month, and accused them of cutting transportation funding in their 2013 budget plan. He said that the GOP’s “real priority” is to “spend $4.6 trillion on lower tax rates…on top of the $1 trillion they would spend on tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 a year.”
“Let me you ask you: what’s a better way to make our economy stronger?” he asked. “Giving another tax break to every millionaire and billionaire in the country? Or building the roads and bridges and broadband networks that will help our businesses sell more goods around the world?”
Obama also attacked efforts by Republicans to curb collective bargaining rights for unions. Without mentioning names, the president took a veiled swipe at Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who last year signed into law one of the most aggressive rollbacks of union power in decades.
“After all you’ve done to build and protect the middle class, they’re saying you’re responsible for the problems facing the middle class,” the president said. ”Somehow that makes sense to them.”
Later, Obama knocked a GOP-led effort to usher in right-to-work laws designed to limit the influence of unions at the state level. Republicans say the laws encourage investment and attract jobs, but Obama argued that they “might as well be called “the right to work for less and less.”
“That’s not about economics,” he said. “It’s about politics.”