POLITICS

President Barack Obama's speech on jobs gives chance to face down critics

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will a deliver rare address to a joint session of Congress next week to introduce a long-awaited plan for jobs and economic growth, but not before being forced to yield in a test of wills with House Speaker John Boehner over not what he would say, but when he would say it.

Obama agreed to schedule his address on Sept. 8 after Boehner balked at the president's request for a Sept. 7 speech.

"After consulting with the Speaker’s office, the President has accepted an invitation to address a Joint Session of Congress at 7pm on Thursday, September 8th," the White House said in a written statement Thursday afternoon.

Obama's address still gives him a grand stage to unveil his economic agenda, though it falls on the same evening as the opening game of the National Football League season. White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said Thursday morning that Obama would finish his remarks before kickoff, which is set for 8:30 p.m. EDT.

The change will allow a planned Sept. 7 Republican presidential debate in Simi Valley, Calif., to proceed without Obama upstaging it.

WH: People 'don't give a lick' about speech timing

The White House is characterizing the flap over the timing of the president's address to Congress next week as a "side show" and not what people care about. White House spokesman Jay Carney says the issue confronting Congress and President Barack Obama is the need to improve the economy and create jobs.

Carney says the American people "don't give a lick" about when Obama speaks but do care about what he says.

Obama had requested that Congress convene a joint session next Wednesday so he could deliver a speech describing his economic agenda. Republican House Speaker John Boehner balked, and suggested the next night instead. Following an afternoon and evening of negotiations, Obama took Boehner's counteroffer.

By seeking a rare joint session of Congress as his audience, Obama will get a nationally televised address that puts him face to face with Republican lawmakers who have bitterly opposed his agenda and who have vowed to vote down any new spending he might propose.

"It is our responsibility to find bipartisan solutions to help grow our economy, and if we are willing to put country before party, I am confident we can do just that," Obama wrote Wednesday in a letter to Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday the dust-up dramatizes why "people are fed up" with Washington.

"It is such nonsense.This is what people hate about politics," Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman said.

Carney said, "Our intention was merely for the president to address a joint session as soon as possible," to outline his plan for revving up the economy and taking the unemployment problem on head-on.

"Our interest is in not having a political back and forth here at all," Carney told MSNBC in an interview. He said the White House yielded when Boehner insisted the speech be next Thursday, instead of Wednesday.

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