Additionally, Democratic officials said the White House wanted to allow time for Obama to make the case publicly for his program before formal debate begins in Congress. The president is expected to fly to Ohio and North Carolina next week for appearances along the same lines as the one he made in Richmond — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's district — on Friday.
Nor is it clear what role a newly appointed debt reduction committee might play in considering Obama's proposals. That panel began work on Thursday and is charged with producing legislation by Nov. 23 that includes a net reduction of at least $1.2 trillion on deficits over the next 10 years.
Unlike routine legislation, any measure produced by the committee is guaranteed a yes-or-no vote in both houses of Congress and cannot be amended.
In their letter to the president, Boehner, Cantor, Reps. Kevin McCarthy of California and Jeb Hensarling of Texas said the House would "immediately begin the process of reviewing and considering your proposals" and would identify "modifications and additional ideas that could achieve economic growth."
They made clear they would seek passage of legislation to roll back government regulations they have identified as job killers.
They also renewed their call for the president to submit free trade agreements to Congress covering Colombia, South Korea and Panama. The White House is demanding simultaneous approval of legislation to renew benefits for workers who lose their jobs as a result of imports.
Obama's tone was playful at times as he spoke in Richmond, with an undercurrent of frustration at congressional Republicans who have tried to impose their agenda on his own for most of the year.
"I'm an optimistic person. I believe in America. I believe in our democracy. I believe that if you just stay at it long enough, eventually, after they've exhausted all the options, folks do the right thing," he said.
"So I'm asking all of you to lift up your voices, not just here in Richmond — anybody watching, listening, following online -- I want you to call, I want you to email, I want you to tweet, I want you to fax, I want you to visit, I want you to Facebook, send a carrier pigeon. I want you to tell your congressperson, the time for gridlock and games is over.
"The time for action is now. The time to create jobs is now," he said to applause.
In their letter, Boehner and the GOP leadership said they assumed Obama's ideas were not presented "as an all-or-nothing proposition."
That was a point Cantor in particular had made earlier in a conversation with reporters in the Capitol.
He rejected what he said was Obama's insistence on "all-or-nothing," adding, "That's not the way to do business. No one does business that way."
Despite Cantor's assertion, Obama did not use the phrase "all or nothing" his speech, and did not ask lawmakers to pass his plan without any changes.
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