White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer was asked Wednesday morning to decribe what he considers President Obama’s "precepts" for getting things done in Washington. “There’s almost no characteristic more important than discipline,” Pfeiffer responded.
And on no other message is the Obama communications team more disciplined than in placing the blame for inertia in Washington on House Republicans.
In the span of an hour-long breakfast sponsored by Politico, Pfeiffer blamed the conservative GOP caucus and Speaker John Boehner, for holding up gun control legislation and for being unflinching on new tax revenues.
For House Republicans, Pfeiffer said, the attitude is “the Paul Ryan budget or nothing else.” And he characterized calls in Republican circles to balance the budget as requesting to do so “entirely on the backs of the middle class and seniors." He mentioned recent productive discussions on tax reform with Lindsey Graham, Bob Corker, and John McCain, praising the Republican senators for their willingness to work on a plan that could bring in additional revenue by closing loopholes. Pfeiffer knocked House Republicans for indicating soon after those meetings with Graham and company that they would hold the line on not raising additional revenues in an upcoming budget deal.
On immigration reform, Pfeiffer acknowledged that a plan developed by the bipartisan Gang of 8 in the Senate, led on the Republican side by Marco Rubio, is “in a better place than people thought it would be.” But he suggested the more conservative House GOP conference could put reform in jeopardy.
And with gun control, Pfeiffer cited polls that show around 90 percent of Americans agree about requiring universal background checks on gun buyers. He said slow congressional movement on a gun control package shows Washington “tends to be a lagging indicator” on where the country is, and particularly House Republicans.
“An overwhelming number of Democrats are supporting it,” he said. “An underwhelming number of Republicans are.”
Asked if the GOP could lose control of the House if the party does not embrace gun control in some form, Pfeiffer demurred. “I think there’s a possibility Republicans lose the House for a whole host of reasons,” he said, before calling gun control a “90 percent issue.” While that’s correct for the narrow issue of universal background checks, however, there’s no polling that indicates such tremendous support for the stricter firearm regulations the president advocates.
Whether or not all the criticisms are valid or true, there is plenty of political value in directing blame toward the GOP, particularly the House majority. A new Gallup poll shows the number one criticism of Republicans is that the party is “inflexible” or “unwilling to compromise,” with 21 percent of adults, including 26 percent of Republicans and 17 percent of independents, mentioning that as a “specific thing” they dislike about the GOP.