GOP: Obama "choking" America's economic growth

Five years of the Obama presidency have produced nothing but economic "roadblocks" that inhibit growth and job creation, Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., charged in the weekly Republican address on Saturday.

He accused the Obama administration of "choking the engines of our economy," singling out the health-care reform law, the administration's energy policy and the government's excessive taxing and spending as areas of particular concern.

On Obamacare, Fitzpatrick said the law simply "isn't working as promised - and the president knows it."

"It's driving up premiums, and forcing workers and their spouses out of plans that they like," he said. "Small companies say the taxes and government mandates make it more difficult for them to hire."

The president is "busy handing out waivers and delays," Fitzpatrick said, urging the president to "give all Americans the same delay" he's giving "to big business."

Although he has emphasized that the law's rollout is proceeding apace, Mr. Obama has delayed the implementation of several provisions in Obamacare by one year, notably the mandate requiring employers with more than 50 workers to provide health coverage for their employees. He also delayed a provision capping the amount of out-of-pocket expenses any individual must pay annually for their health care, offering businesses and insurers more time to adjust to the law's new regulations.

On energy policy, Fitzpatrick accused the president of "blocking efforts to create jobs and make energy more affordable," slamming the administration's failure to quickly approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring crude oil from Canadian tar sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

"This month marks five years since the Keystone application was first filed. Since then, it's passed every environmental review. Labor unions want it. It's privately funded - no taxpayer dollars involved. And again, it has bipartisan support in Congress," Fitzpatrick said. "So why is the Obama administration still standing in the way of this 'shovel-ready' project?"

The Pennsylvania Republican also made a more general ideological case against big government, warning that the "size and scope of the federal government" have ballooned out of control under Mr. Obama.

He accused the president of pushing "tax hikes" and "'stimulus'-style policies that have left us with weak job growth, high prices, and stagnant paychecks."

Republicans have a better plan to "simplify the tax code" and "eliminate excessive regulations," Fitzpatrick said, touting a GOP jobs plan that would break down "the government roadblocks that are hurting our economy."

"People want Congress to focus on expanding opportunity instead of expanding the government," he said.

In his own weekly address on Saturday, Mr. Obama commemorated Labor Day, lauding the generations of workers who "built this country up and helped make us who we are today."

He urged Americans to "recommit ourselves to their cause" by securing "a better bargain so that everyone who works hard in America has a chance to get ahead."

"A good job that pays a good wage. A good education. A home of your own. Health care when you get sick. A secure retirement even if you're not rich. And more chances for folks to earn their way into the middle class as long as they're willing to work for it" - those are the "cornerstones" of the American middle class, Mr. Obama said, pledging to work to restore them.

"For generations, it was the great American middle class that made our economy the envy of the world," he said, "and as long as I'm president, I'm going to keep fighting to make sure that happens again."