President Obama touted this week's stronger-than-expected jobs report in his weekly address on Saturday, pleading with Congress to not sabotage an economic recovery that finally seems to be taking root.
In the February jobs report, Mr. Obama said, "We learned that our businesses added nearly 250,000 new jobs last month. The unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent - still too high, but now lower than it was when I took office.
"And at a time when our businesses are gaining a little more traction," the president added, "the last thing we need to do is allow Washington politics to get in the way."
Mr. Obama also described his dinner with 12 Republican lawmakers this week - a step toward reconciliation that the president took to "see if we can untangle some of the gridlock."
"Earlier this week I met with some Republican senators to see if there were smarter ways to grow our economy and reduce our deficits than the arbitrary cuts and the so-called 'sequester' that recently went into place," he said. "We had an open and honest conversation about critical issues like immigration reform and gun violence, and other areas where we can work together to move this country forward."
"I still believe that we can come together to do big things," he said. "And I know there are leaders on the other side who share that belief."
Despite Mr. Obama's olive branch, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., delivered a stark warning in the GOP response: "Government has never been bigger or more out of control," he said, and the president is only making it worse.
"President Obama speaks of his deep concern for struggling Americans," Sessions said, "yet his plans are focused on growing government - not the economy. He has no effective plan to create better jobs, more hiring or rising wages. That's what's missing."
"Every time lawmakers try to reform the bureaucracy" to catalyze job growth, Sessions argued, "they meet with the same response: President Obama attacks the reformers, saying such ideas aren't compassionate or fair."
Senate Democrats are slated to release their budget plan Wednesday, Sessions noted, predicting that the proposal will simply "follow the president's lead: raising taxes to enrich the bureaucracy at the expense of the people.
"Government has never been bigger or more out of control," he said. "These destructive policies cannot continue. We are at the breaking point."