Bloomberg News

Obama Urges Lawmakers to Avoid ‘Politics’ in Push for More Jobs

August 20, 2011

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama called on lawmakers to put aside partisan differences and work to find common ground to reduce unemployment and stimulate the economy.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama reiterated the message he delivered earlier this week to rural communities in the Midwest on a three-day bus tour and listed a familiar series of measures to boost growth. Among them are extending the two-percentage-point payroll tax cut for workers, passing free- trade agreements and creating a program to build roads and other infrastructure.

“The only thing holding them back is politics,” Obama said in his address, recorded in Alpha, Illinois, the last stop on his trip. “The only thing preventing us from passing these bills is the refusal by some in Congress to put country ahead of party. That’s the problem right now. That’s what’s holding this country back. That’s what we have to change.”

Concerns the global economy is weakening sent U.S. stocks lower yesterday, capping a fourth straight weekly slump for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. The S&P 500 has fallen 18 percent from an almost three-year high on April 29 amid fears about Europe’s debt crisis and a global economic slowdown.

Vineyard Vacation

The president arrived on Aug. 18 for a 10-day vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, where his aides say he will be working on a new plan to create jobs that includes a mix of tax cuts and infrastructure spending. Obama, who will also offer his own suggestions for making steeper cuts to the nation’s debt, will lay out the proposals in a speech shortly after the U.S. Labor Day holiday, which is Sept. 5.

“We’re coming through a terrible recession; a lot of folks are still looking for work,” Obama said. “A lot of people are getting by with smaller paychecks or less money in the cash register.”

In the weekly Republican address, Ohio Governor John Kasich said the best way to grow the economy is to cut taxes, reduce spending and trim unnecessary regulations. Kasich, who played golf with Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner in June, said Ohio has seen success in all three areas.

“Make no mistake, our national debt represents a claim on your future hard-earned tax dollars,” Kasich said. “So when I hear the president and his allies in Washington say we need more spending and higher taxes, it is a real cause for concern.”

While Ohio’s jobless rate falls just below the national average of 9.1 percent, the Labor Department reported yesterday the unemployment rate rose in the state to 9.0 percent in July, up from 8.8 percent the month earlier.

“For all the good we’re trying to do here, our success in Ohio and in a number of other states will be thwarted if Washington continues its spending spree and its punitive taxes on success,” Kasich said.

--Editors: Robin Meszoly, Jim Rubin.

To contact the reporters on this story: Julianna Goldman in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts, at jgoldman6@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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