Obama Mocks GOP: 'So Sue Me'
President Barack Obama mocked what he described as a do-nothing Congress Tuesday, saying he won't apologize for taking executive actions on political issues without the legislative branch — and defiantly daring them: "So sue me."
"As long as they insist on taking no action whatsoever that will help anybody, I'm going to keep on taking actions on my own that can help the middle class, like the actions I've already taken to speed up construction projects and attract new manufacturing jobs and lift workers' wages and help students pay off their student loans," Obama told a Department of Transportation gathering on Washington's Key Bridge.
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"Middle-class families can't wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff. So sue me. As long as they're doing nothing, I'm not going to apologize for trying to do something."
The president's taunt referred to the lawsuit threatened by Speaker John Boehner over Obama's go-it-alone administrative actions — a tactic he has called a "stunt."
On Tuesday, Obama took particular aim at House Republicans for inaction on the Highway Trust Fund, a fund paid for through a gas tax to help fix roads that will run out by the end of summer, ABC News reported.
"All told, nearly 700,000 jobs could be at risk next year," the president said. "That would be like Congress threatening to lay off the entire population of Denver or Seattle or Boston," he said. "Soon states may have to choose which projects to continue and which ones to put the brakes on because they're running out of money."
Obama said Congress' inaction on the fund is "obstruction" that "keeps the system rigged for those who are doing fine, at the very top. It prevents us from helping more middle-class families."
"We could do so much more if we just rallied around an economic patriotism, a sense that our job is to get things done as one nation and as one people," he said, according to ABC News.
"Economic patriotism would say that instead of protecting corporations that are shipping jobs overseas, let's make sure they're paying their fair share of taxes. Let's reward American workers and businesses that hire them. Let's put people to work rebuilding America. Let's invest in manufacturing so the next generation of good manufacturing jobs are right here made in the USA."
"It's not crazy. It's not socialism. You know, it — it's not, you know, the imperial presidency or, no laws are broken. … But so far, House Republicans have refused to act on this idea. I haven't heard a good reason why they haven't acted. It's not like they've been busy with other stuff. No, seriously. I mean, they're not doing anything. Why, why don't they do this?"
Later Tuesday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus accused the president of using executive actions as a "power grab."
"The president wants to be president, he wants to be speaker of the House, he wants to be majority leader of the Senate, and he wants to be the court," Priebus said Tuesday on Fox News Channel's "On the Record with Greta Van Susteren."
While other presidents have used executive powers, Obama "takes the cake," Priebus said.
"He takes the blue ribbon. He's been struck down over 13 times in the past two years by the Supreme Court saying that you are overextending your power, that you are not respecting Article 1 of the Constitution which grants the power to the House and to the Senate."
Obama complained House GOP lawmakers have refused to act on extending unemployment insurance, raising the minimum wage, and a fair pay proposal, yet "they criticize me for this."
"Boehner sued me for this," he said. "And I told him I'd rather do things with you; pass some laws; make sure the Highway Trust Fund is funded so we don't lay off hundreds of thousands of workers. It's not that hard."
Earlier Tuesday, the president told members of his Cabinet to "be creative" in figuring out ways he can act on his own.
"When you tell your Cabinet members, I want you to find ways in order to circumvent the Constitution, the president's forgetting about the fact that the entire basis of this Constitution that made this great country is that the power vests in 'We the People,'" Priebus charged, noting though the president once taught constitutional law, he now seems to have forgotten about the separation of powers doctrine.
"I think, actually, he intends to change the laws of this country on his own," Priebus said. "I think he's going to be as cute and as clever as he possibly can to do it."
Priebus said he backs Boehner's threatened lawsuit over Obama's use of executive powers.
"There is no other option with this president," Priebus said. "He doesn't want to work with Congress. He wants to write the laws with a pen and his telephone."