(CNN) – President Barack Obama’s senior campaign strategist warned Sunday that Republicans catering to tea party politics threatened much-needed progress on job creation.
David Axelrod told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Obama would unveil a reasonable jobs plan in September calling for steps previously endorsed by both parties. However, he said, Republican leaders must put aside the kind of political gamesmanship that “brought us to the brink of default” during the debt ceiling negotiations to act in the best interest of the country.
“I think what you’ll find when the president unveils the entire program is that there’s nothing in there that reasonable people shouldn’t be able to agree on and if we make the House Republicans and particularly the tea party faction, if we make them the standard, we’re in deep trouble,” Axelrod said.
Short-term and long-term solutions are necessary to accelerate the U.S. economy that has taken recent hits from world events, including the Arab spring protest movement that has increased gas prices, the earthquake in Japan and shaky European economies, said Axelrod, who left the White House earlier this year to work on Obama’s re-election effort.
The president’s plan is expected to include an extension of the payroll tax cut passed in January as well as spending on infrastructure development, such as rebuilding or repairing roads and bridges, in an effort to help the long-term unemployed, Axelrod said.
He blamed politics for the lack of action in Congress, pointing specifically to conservative Republicans.
“I hope that over this break they’ve heard from their constituents, they’re ready to rethink this,” Axelrod told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. “The only thing that keeps us from acting on this is pure politics.”
His comments follow the president’s three-day bus tour aimed at promoting the administration’s rural economic development initiatives and pivoting the national conversation toward job creation.
Obama has come under criticism from his liberal base for what they complain is yielding too quickly to Republican intransigence by moving to the political center instead of standing up for Democratic ideals.
Amid the president’s bus tour, members of the House Congressional Black Caucus, many of whom are strong Obama supporters, said he should also visit urban communities when traveling the country.
Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California was perhaps the loudest voice over the past week, telling CNN on Saturday that it’s time for Obama “to fight” for Democratic principles and focus on African American communities facing higher unemployment rates than elsewhere in the country. On Sunday, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland echoed Waters’ call on CNN.
“On the one hand, they’re very protective, they really care,” said Cummings, the former chairman of the Black Congressional Caucus, of how African American members of Congress regard Obama, the nation’s first African American president. “On the other hand, almost every African American person I’ve talked to said they want him to fight and fight harder.”
Cummings summed up the attitude of African Americans as: “If the Republicans aren’t going to work with us, we’re just gong to have to go it alone and stand up to them. Don’t back down. Period.”
- CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report.
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