GOP immediately rejects Obama's "grand bargain"

And Obama knocked Republicans for focusing on defunding Obamacare and the Keystone XL pipeline

By Jillian Rayfield
Published July 30, 2013 8:02PM (EDT)

President Obama called out Republicans for immediately rejecting his proposed "grand bargain," chiding them for focusing on defunding Obamacare and building the Keystone XL pipeline instead of laying out their own proposals to boost the economy.

"I am laying out my ideas to give the middle class a better shot in a 21st-century economy," Obama said in a big speech in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Tuesday. "Now it’s time for Republicans to lay out theirs. If they’ve got a better plan to bring back more manufacturing jobs, or create jobs rebuilding our infrastructure for the long run, or help workers earn the high-tech skills our businesses demand, let’s hear ’em."

"But," he continued, "gutting protections for our air and water isn’t a jobs plan. Gutting investments in things like education and energy isn’t a jobs plan. Putting all your eggs in the basket of an oil pipeline that may only create about 50 permanent jobs, and wasting the country’s time by taking something like 40 meaningless votes to repeal Obamacare isn’t a jobs plan."

NBC News reports:

At a speech this afternoon in Chattanooga, Tenn., Obama called for closing loopholes and certain deductions for big business in exchange for lowering rates. The president offered a trade-off in which new revenue from the tax reforms would be used toward spending on infrastructure and transportation projects.

“Here’s the bottom line: I’m willing to work with Republicans on reforming our corporate tax code, as long as we use the money from transitioning to a simpler tax system for a significant investment in creating middle-class jobs,” he said. “That’s the deal.”

"We can't be getting into a whole bunch of fads and pretend like, you know, you roll back Obamacare and suddenly all these jobs are going to be created because the middle class was struggling before I came into office," Obama added. "The middle class was losing ground before I came into office. Jobs were getting shipped overseas before Obamacare was in place. So we got to be honest. We gotta be honest about the challenges we face, but also the opportunities that are out there."

Republican leadership was quick to reject the proposals. "The President has always supported corporate tax reform," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. "Republicans want to help families and small businesses, too. This proposal allows President Obama to support President Obama's position on taxes and President Obama's position on spending, while leaving small businesses and American families behind."

"It's just a further left version of a widely panned plan he already proposed two years ago, this time with extra goodies for tax and spend liberals," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

Read the full text of Obama's remarks here.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Barack Obama Keystone Xl Pipeline Obamacare Republicans Tennessee U.s. Economy