« VP Beat: Paul Ryan Goes Solo for Romney in N.C. | Main | Five Things to Watch in Tuesday’s Voting Contests »

Obama, Bill Clinton Stump on ‘Growth’ vs. ‘Austerity’ Agenda

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- President Obama and former President Bill Clinton pitched a coordinated message on jobs and the economy Monday night that appeared designed to confront an electoral landscape unsettled by Friday’s dismal jobs report and an expected Republican victory in Wisconsin’s gubernatorial recall.

Sharing the stage at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan, the two offered a robust defense of Obama’s handling of the economy and vision for the future, asserting more forcefully than they’ve done elsewhere in recent weeks that more short-term government spending is needed to boost hiring while insisting Republicans have been blockading the effort all along.

“If you do not have economic growth, no amount of austerity will balance the budget because you will always have revenues go down more than you can possibly cut spending,” Clinton told the crowd of Republican budget plans.

“So what [Obama] did was to say growth today, restraint in a big way tomorrow. … Growth and jobs today, build the economy, then take the burden of the debt off our children’s future and avoid the exploding interest rates and declining living standards that it would impose on their future,” the former president said.

Clinton argued that Republicans in Congress rejected early on Obama’s “politics of cooperation,” derailing a bipartisan debt commission, a public-private infrastructure bank, and other measures that have traditionally received bipartisan support.

“So where are we in spite of that?  In the last 27 months this economy has produced 4.3 million private sector jobs,” Clinton said.  But “the Congress refused to pass his bill to send money to states and localities to keep the teachers on the job, to keep the firefighters and police officers on the job. …  That’s the austerity policy.  It isn’t good economics.  The Obama policy is.”

Obama echoed his predecessor, saying Republicans have sought to undermine his policy -- essentially rooting for economic failure -- from the beginning of his term.

“They had it from the day I was sworn in.  They made a determination that politics should trump what was needed to move this country forward.  And they have tried to put sand in the gears in Congress ever since,” Obama said.

“And now they’ve got a nominee who’s expressing support for an agenda that would reverse the progress we’ve made and take us back to the exact same policies that got us into this mess in the first place,” Obama added of Mitt Romney.  “And the reason we’re here today is because we’re not going back, we’re going forward.  We’ve worked too hard and too long to right the ship and move in the right direction.”

Clinton also took a swipe at Romney, suggesting his budget plans would “cut out everything that helps middle class people, cut out everything that helps poor people work into the middle class,” while also adding to the debt.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio