Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., questioned the motives of President Obama’s planned visit to the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati, alleging it’s more about his re-election than solving the country’s economic woes.
The president is making a stop at the bridge on Thursday to rally support for his $447 billion American Jobs Act. The span connecting Kentucky to Ohio was cited in Mr. Obama’s speech before a joint session of Congress earlier this month as an example of the country’s crumbling infrastructure needs.
Political observers have spotlighted that the bridge connects the states of the president’s two chief rivals in Washington, McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Oh., who have opposed the jobs plan.
McConnell says the visit shows the president is more interested in scoring political points than improving the economy or unemployment rate.
“President Obama may think the best way to distract people from the challenges we face is to stand near a bridge in a swing state and pit one group of Americans against another, and hope his critics look bad if they don’t go along with him. But I don’t think he’s fooling anybody,” he says.
The plan has received tepid support from Senate Democrats, who haven’t decided whether they will consider all or portions of the act. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nv., said the caucus discussed the plan but indicated there was hesitation due to tax increases.
McConnell says the lack of full Democratic support shows the president is using the plan more for his re-election bid than solving problems.
“I mean, this so-called jobs bill seems to be about as popular as Solyndra. And I’m just talking about among the Democrats. Yet the president’s out there acting like somebody’s actually putting up a fight. So this whole thing is a charade. And I think the American people deserve better,” he says.
Local civic leaders and elected officials have urged Mr. Obama to visit the Sherman Minton Bridge in Louisville, which has been closed since September 9.
The president’s jobs plan includes $50 billion for road and highway construction, which has been cited as a potential funding mechanism to either repair or replace the Louisville span.
Mayor Greg Fischer will have a chance to discuss the Sherman Minton closure with President Obama directly when he visits Cincinnati Thursday.