GOP says it wants to focus on jobs

The Hill – Erik Wasson

After a week when gay marriage dominated headlines, House Republicans on Saturday tried to put the focus back on jobs and the economy, which they view as their strong suit heading into this fall’s elections.

President Obama gave his personal endorsement of same-sex marriage on Wednesday, but GOP leaders have not pounced on Obama’s announcement. Instead, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) used his Thursday press conference to talk about an economy which has shown lackluster growth.

On Saturday, Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) reiterated Boehner’s economic arguments and appealed to women and to students, two demographic groups which supported Obama and which his reelection campaign has been working to keep.“The challenges young people and women face in this economy need to be addressed, not exploited for political gain,” Noem said.

Noem highlighted the fact that she recently graduated from college.

“Commencements are happy occasions, of course, but I couldn’t help but think about the challenges that this year’s graduates will face. Last week’s disappointing unemployment figures were a sobering reminder that our economy continues to struggle. Over half of the recent college graduates cannot get a job in President Obama’s economy,” she said.

The address also framed recent fiscal actions as jobs bills rather than promoting them primarily as addressing the deficit for its own sake. It can be seen as a counter-punch to Obama’s five point jobs “to do list” that he presented Congress with this week.

“All told, more than two dozen House-passed jobs bills are awaiting action in the Democratic-controlled Senate. If the president is truly serious about doing what’s best for women, young people – and all Americans – working on these jobs bills should be our focus,” she said.

Noem took time to defend the offset in a House-passed student loan bill. Congress is trying to find a way to prevent a doubling of federal Stafford loans to 6.8 percent next month but has failed to agree on a way to pay for it.

Republicans want to cut the Prevention and Public Health fund, established in the health care reform law to “help prevent tobacco use, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and cancer,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“When the House recently passed legislation to prevent student loan rates from doubling, the president falsely claimed that by targeting an ObamaCare slush fund to pay for our fix, that Republicans were slashing support for women’s health. Independent news organizations quickly debunked these allegations,” Noem claimed. “What’s more, the president has twice cut money from this very same slush fund, most recently in his own budget. This is just further proof that he is politicizing this issue to distract the American people.”