UPDATE 1-Obama casts Republicans as party of the rich

* Obama chides Republicans for thwarting jobless extension

* Criticism rehearses key Democratic election-year attack

(Adds Republicans reaction paragraphs 10-11)

By Alister Bull

WASHINGTON, July 17 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. President Barack Obama
stepped up criticism of Republicans on Saturday for blocking
jobless aid, hammering home a Democratic election year attack
line that casts the opposition as the party of the rich.

“Too often, the Republican leadership in the United States
Senate chooses to filibuster our recovery and obstruct our
progress. And that has very real consequences,” Obama said in
his weekly radio and Internet address.

Senate Republicans have used the filibuster, a procedural
hurdle demanding 60 votes in the 100-member chamber, to block
at least three Democratic initiatives to extend unemployment
insurance. Republicans cite the need to curb government
spending amid a record budget deficit.

“Think about what these stalling tactics mean for the
millions of Americans who’ve lost their jobs since the
recession began. Over the past several weeks, more than two
million of them have seen their unemployment insurance expire,”
the president said.

Obama has made job creation his top domestic priority and
has traveled repeatedly to the U.S. heartland to tout policies
that lift hiring, including a trip to Holland, Michigan, on
Thursday for the groundbreaking of an electric car battery
factory that has received federal dollars.

U.S. growth has resumed after the worst recession in
decades, thanks in part to a $862 billion stimulus plan Obama
signed last year.

But this recovery has been slow to produce new jobs, and
his Democrats risk punishment by voters in congressional
elections on Nov. 2 unless there is a drop in unemployment, now
running at 9.5 percent.

Time is running out. A recent poll showed confidence in
Obama’s economic stewardship has flagged, and Democrats could
lose control of the House of Representatives in November. All
435 seats in the House are up for grabs, as well as 36 of the
100 seats in the U.S. Senate.

Frustratingly for the White House, its proposals to extend
unemployment insurance, cut capital gains taxes on investments
and set up a fund to boost lending to small businesses have
been repeatedly blocked on Capitol Hill.

Republicans rejected the claim they were using
congressional rules to thwart the process and said there had
been no votes of any sort on small business lending.

“Nobody has ‘used procedural tactics to block a simple,
up-or-down vote.’ It’s just not accurate,” said Don Stewart,
spokesman for Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell,
referring to another of the president’s remarks.

BUDGET DEFICIT

Senate Republicans say the country cannot afford more
taxpayer-funded government spending, on top of Obama’s
emergency stimulus package, an argument that taps into public
disquiet over a record budget deficit and rising debt.

But the White House, which says the the deficit should be
tackled in the medium term once the labor market has properly
healed, calls this politically motivated obstruction and says
Republicans are siding with the rich.

“They say we shouldn’t provide unemployment insurance
because it costs money,” chided Obama.

“So after years of championing policies that turned a
record surplus into a massive deficit, including a tax cut for
the wealthiest Americans, they’ve finally decided to make their
stand on the backs of the unemployed,” he said.

The White House is particularly scornful of Republican
criticism of the deficit, which is forecast to hit a record
$1.56 trillion in the current fiscal year.

Obama’s Republican predecessor George W. Bush inherited a
surplus from Democratic President Bill Clinton, but handed
Obama a $1.3 trillion deficit eight years later, which his
White House blames on Bush-era tax cuts and wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan that were funded with deficits.

“They’ve got no problem spending money on tax breaks for
folks at the top who don’t need them and didn’t even ask for
them; but they object to helping folks laid off in this
recession who really do need help,” Obama said.
(Reporting by Alister Bull; editing by Mohammad Zargham and
Vicki Allen)

UPDATE 1-Obama casts Republicans as party of the rich