WASHINGTON The White House accused senior Republicans on Friday of "rooting against" recovery and a top congressional critic charged President Barack Obama was pursuing a "job-killing" agenda in a fresh round of political bickering over the economy.
The latest partisan sniping followed Obama's stepped-up push this week to curb 10 percent U.S. unemployment and could help set campaign battlelines as Congress enters a mid-term election year.
Firing back after a scathing attack by House Minority Leader John Boehner in the Washington Post's opinion pages, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer called the Republican criticism "odd" and staunchly defended the Democratic president's policies.
"The president has always said there is an open door for good ideas, and when Congressman Boehner and Republicans in Congress are interested in being a part of a conversation about how to move forward instead of rooting against the path to economic recovery, we look forward to having a productive conversation," Pfeiffer wrote in a White House blog.
Boehner accused Obama of trying to raise taxes on small businesses and insisted Republicans had better ideas for boosting jobs and the overall economy.
"When the president said this week that we need to 'spend our way out of this recession,' he made clear that he is not willing to admit the $787 billion 'stimulus' isn't working," Boehner wrote. "Mr. President, it's not the GOP that's scaring people -- it's your job-killing policies."
Chiding Boehner for "alarmist" rhetoric, Pfeiffer said several of Obama's job creation proposals called for "explicitly lowering taxes on small businesses, with zero capital gains, extending expensing and bonus depreciation and a tax credit to promote hiring -- all proposals many Republican leaders have embraced in the past."
In his opinion piece, Boehner said Obama, at a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders this week, told Republicans they "seem to be almost rooting against recovery." "I told the president very directly that everyone -- Republicans and Democrats -- wants to get people back to work," Boehner wrote.
The recriminations surfaced as Obama returned home from Oslo, where he accepted his Nobel Peace Prize, still facing a daunting domestic agenda trying to spur job creation and push a complex healthcare overhaul through Congress.
Americans' anxiety over the economy has eroded Obama's approval ratings to 50 percent or below, potentially dimming Democrats' prospects in congressional elections next November.
(Editing by Todd Eastham)