Rep. Clyburn: The President Is Going To Have To Lay The Jobs Problem At The Doorsteps Of The Republican Leadership

CNN's John King talked to the House Assistant Minority Leader, Rep. James Clyburn about President Obama's recent bus tour and his continued unwillingness to call the Republican leadership out directly for obstructing bipartisan legislation that is pending in both houses of Congress to get Americans back to work.

CNN's John King talked to the Assistant Minority Leader, Rep. James Clyburn about President Obama's recent bus tour and his continued unwillingness to call the Republican leadership out directly for obstructing bipartisan legislation. Tons of bills that are pending in both houses of Congress to get Americans back to work.

And I agree with the Congressman's statement at the very end of the segment, after venting some of the frustration he and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus have had with the president for focusing on things like deficit reduction instead of jobs and for not going to some of the areas that have been hardest hit in this economy.

KING: Do you prefer -- you're the assistant Democratic leader, you're in the minority now. The Republicans control the House. Would you prefer the president not blame the people in Washington or the Congress and specifically say the Republicans?

CLYBURN: Yes, I would prefer that and I've had those discussions with the president on other occasions --

KING: And why won't he get tougher with them? Why won't he get tougher with them?

CLYBURN: Well, I hope he will. I don't know. I think the president by nature wants to be diplomatic. I'm the same way. I call myself a southern gentleman, but there are times when I put that aside and go right to the core of the problem. The problem is that the Republican leadership refuses to allow a jobs bill to come to the floor. I have one that's got bipartisan support. It has a companion bill over in the Senate that has bipartisan support. The co- sponsorship is bipartisan.

But we cannot get them to bring this to the floor. And I think the president sooner or later is going to have to lay this right at the doorsteps of the Republican leadership. We did not vote for all of these things that's got us in this problem today. Democrats have supported his agenda and we still look forward to supporting him in the future. He needs to call the Republicans out. That's who is stopping this legislation, not the Democrats.

It looks like Clyburn and some of his colleagues are as frustrated as the rest of us with President Obama continuing to just take shots at the Congress as a whole, instead of identifying who is being unreasonable and obstructing and who has been willing to compromise, and in the eyes of most liberals out there, been willing to compromise too much.

Full transcript below the fold.

KING: Now he's on a bus tour. Let me show you the map as we bring it out here, the president of the United States on a bus tour that started in Minnesota. It's going down through Minnesota. He's now in Iowa, he's in Decorah (ph), Iowa now. He'll go to Iowa again tomorrow, then he's in some rural counties in Illinois there.

That's the president of the United States out here in the Midwest, three states that were critical to him back in the 2008 campaign, Illinois obviously his home state. The Congressional Black Caucus proposes a jobs tour. It's on the schedule right now through Detroit, Cleveland, Atlanta, Miami and Los Angeles. You see the president out here largely in white rural America. The CBC saying let's have a jobs focus in African-American and minority communities across America.

So does the president's focus on states critical to his re- election mean overlooking communities with a need for help is beyond critical? In Columbia, South Carolina tonight the highest ranking African-American in the Congress (INAUDIBLE) Democratic leader James Clyburn. Congressman Clyburn, let's get straight to that. Would you prefer -- I know you support the president and you know he needs to go to these electorally (ph) important states for him. But would you prefer if he's going to do a jobs tour that he start in Columbia, South Carolina where unemployment among African-Americans is near 19 percent, maybe Selma, Alabama where it's above 20 percent?

CLYBURN: Well I don't think that we have to worry about where he starts. The problem is where will the impact be of job creation? Will we get a jobs Bill out of the Congress? I understand that the president's going to be coming forward in September with a comprehensive job bill. I hope that's the case. I'm also hopeful that as we talk about deficit reduction, and those kinds of things that we can include job creation in those discussions as well.

Because the quickest way to reduce the deficit, I believe, is to get people back to work. They'll be paying taxes. They won't be drawing unemployment. And they will, in fact, be contributing to deficit reduction. So I would love to see a comprehensive jobs program in the very near future because I think that's what will get people's confidence restored and get our communities back on the right track.

KING: As you know, though, and you tend to be more diplomatic, especially on television, than some of your colleagues and I respect that, as you know there's been some grumbling in the Black Caucus and in what I'll call the progressive community at large about the president's focus, whether the subject be deficit reduction or where he's traveling right now focusing on jobs. The chairman of the CBC, Emanuel Cleaver from Missouri said this to "The Washington Post" just last week.

"What the president is doing is not the same as what we're doing. We have real jobs to give real people who are unemployed. This is not one of those deals where we go around and talk about jobs and hope somebody gives us some press attention." That's a pretty harsh criticism of the president of the United States, the first African- American president to the United States from a leading African- American in the Congress, is it not?

CLYBURN: Well, I didn't get that he was directly talking about the president there. I'm not too sure that there aren't other tours taking place that might have been the point of reference. I was with Emanuel Cleaver over the weekend, and we had long talks about what's going on with the Congressional Black Caucus tomorrow in Detroit, later on in Miami, Atlanta, and then out in Los Angeles. Just because we're ending the tour in Los Angeles doesn't mean the emphasis is not on Los Angeles as well.

We started in Cleveland, Ohio, around 7,000 people showed up. I think around 2,200 people got connected with jobs. But I think that that's what Cleaver was talking about, trying to do a jobs tour where we bring employers and potential employees in to the same room and see if we can get the confidence restored again because too many people have stopped looking. They've just dropped out of the process altogether. We want to get them back in. And the way you do that, I think, is the way the CBC is conducting this tour. I think that's what he had reference to.

KING: I want you to listen to some of the president on the trail today. He's being a bit more populous (ph) and he's the president of the United States. He holds the most powerful job in Washington. And yet he's making the case -- and I think you would understand his frustration -- that he can't get a lot of things done because he can't get them through the Congress. I want you to listen to this and I want to you if you would choose the same words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: People are doing the right thing. Well, if you can do the right thing, then folks in Washington have to do the right thing. And if we do that, there is not a problem that we face that we cannot solve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Do you prefer -- you're the assistant Democratic leader, you're in the minority now. The Republicans control the House. Would you prefer the president not blame the people in Washington or the Congress and specifically say the Republicans?

CLYBURN: Yes, I would prefer that and I've had those discussions with the president on other occasions --

KING: And why won't he get tougher with them? Why won't he get tougher with them?

CLYBURN: Well, I hope he will. I don't know. I think the president by nature wants to be diplomatic. I'm the same way. I call myself a southern gentleman, but there are times when I put that aside and go right to the core of the problem. The problem is that the Republican leadership refuses to allow a jobs bill to come to the floor. I have one that's got bipartisan support. It has a companion bill over in the Senate that has bipartisan support. The co- sponsorship is bipartisan.

But we cannot get them to bring this to the floor. And I think the president sooner or later is going to have to lay this right at the doorsteps of the Republican leadership. We did not vote for all of these things that's got us in this problem today. Democrats have supported his agenda and we still look forward to supporting him in the future. He needs to call the Republicans out. That's who is stopping this legislation, not the Democrats.

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