Changes by executive order don't "substitute for the action that Congress absolutely must and should take … it is simply a part of doing everything you can: Focusing on what is the No. 1 issue for most Americans, which is an economy that's not growing fast enough, an economy that's not creating enough jobs," White House spokesman Jay Carney said during a media briefing aboard Air Force One en route to Las Vegas.
Obama announced Monday the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac) and the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) took three steps to help responsible homeowners refinance and take advantage of low mortgage rates.
Why use the executive order?
"Because we have to do everything we can," Carney said.
Using executive authority doesn't mean Obama is giving up his pleas to Congress to pass his American Jobs Act, Carney said.
"It is not a substitute for congressional action," Carney said. "Congress must pass the individual components of the jobs act."
Carney said the White House was "puzzled" by the lack of congressional proposals that would have an immediate near-term impact on growth and employment.
"Yes, they've put forward proposals, but not just by our observations, by the observation of independent outside economists, those proposals at best would have no positive impact on economic growth or job creation in the near-term," he said.
Carney read from a Macroeconomic Advisers blog concerning the Republicans' Jobs Through Growth Act, which said, "Without more detail on the Republican plan, we cannot offer a firm estimate of its economic impact in either the long- or short-term. However, if what we do know of the JTGA were enacted now, we would not materially change our forecast for either economic growth or employment through 2013."
If congressional Republicans "are saying essentially there's not a problem that needs to be fixed for the next two years, then this is the jobs plan for you, OK?" Carney said.
Ideas such as tax reform should be discussed, agreed upon and put into place for long-term economic benefit of the country, he said.
"But we have an immediate need now, and right now the president has put forward a plan that has -- addresses that immediate need," Carney said. "It's paid for and the Republicans … instead they're just voting against it in lockstep."
Carney held out hope Republicans would budge because "every time Republicans go home … it is entirely possible, if they break out of their bubbles and actually engage with their constituents, that they will learn that the No. 1 priority in their states is the economy [is] jobs. … And that hopefully that will have an impact on how they behave when they come back, and the issues that they think are significant."
He said the White House would work with the Senate Democratic leadership and "certainly intend to give Senate Republicans every opportunity to vote on all the provisions of the jobs act, to demonstrate their commitment to growing the economy and creating jobs."