At his press conference Wednesday, the usually calm and cool President Obama broke character to criticize members of Congress. “They need to do their job,” he said, knocking Congress members for procrastinating on the debt ceiling negotiations, and for the number of breaks they take. “Malia and Sasha generally finish their homework a day early," he said. "They're 13 and 10! You know, Congress can do the same thing.” The president added:
If by the end of this week, we have not seen substantial progress, then I think members of Congress need to understand we are going to start having to cancel things and stay here until we get it done. You know, they’re in one week; they’re out one week. And then they’re saying, ‘Obama’s gotta step in.’ You need to be here. I’ve been here. I’ve been doing Afghanistan and bin Laden and the Greek crisis. You stay here. Let’s get it done.
The House has been in recess all this week, and, though the Senate is scheduled to take Independence Day recess next week, Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Thursday that the Senate would skip the break and regroup after the holiday weekend. [ Vote now: Will there be a debt ceiling deal?]
Almost immediately after Obama's criticism, the punditsphere exploded with analysis: Was it fair? The halls of Congress do seem to be empty all too often and work needs to be done, but then, the members must balance their time on Capitol Hill with time spent in their home districts with constituents.
U.S. News Blogger Susan Milligan believes Obama has a point about the number of recesses Congress takes, especially in light of the debt crisis, “but of course, he doesn’t have to be personally, and constantly, raising money for his re-election campaign, which is a big part of what members of Congress do when they head home for weekends and recesses,” she writes. “Presidents have people who do that for them.” [See a slide show of 6 consequences if the debt ceiling isn't raised.]
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Previously: Will Bachmann’s Gaffes End Her 2012 Chances?