Bloomberg News

Obama Uses Personal Stories to Push Lawmakers on Jobs Program

October 01, 2011

Oct. 1 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama used the personal stories of four women to make his case for the passage of his jobs plan, urging Congress to move quickly.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said he sent lawmakers his $447 billion jobs plan three weeks ago, “and now I want it back.”

He said that every day he receives letters from Americans “who expect Washington to do something about the problems we face.” Many of them express support for his package of tax and spending measures which he announced on Sept. 8, Obama said.

He said 16-year-old Georgia student Destiny Wheeler wrote him that she wants to go to college, even though her family has little money to pay for it.

“’The American Jobs act gives me hope that I might start to receive a better education, that one day job opportunities will be open for me to grasp, and that one day my personal American Dream will be reached,’” the president read from the letter.

Another woman, Cathleen Dixon, attached photographs of a bridge she drives under every day on the way to drop her children off at their Chicago school.

Dixon “worries about their safety and writes, ‘I am angry that in this country of vast resources we claim that we cannot maintain basic infrastructure,” Obama related. “’How can we ever hope to preserve or regain our stature in this world if we cannot find the will to protect our people and take care of our basic needs?’”

Spurring Hiring

Since Sept. 8 the president has traveled across the nation to promote his plan, aimed at spurring hiring to trim the nation’s 9.1 percent unemployment rate. Obama said in today’s address that the plan is “fully paid for” and would benefit small businesses and help create jobs by keeping teachers employed and putting construction crews on the job rebuilding roads, bridges and schools. It would also include a cut in the payroll tax.

He asked Republican lawmakers who oppose the bill to offer alternatives and say exactly what they oppose in his plan.

“Are they against putting teachers and police officers and firefighters back on the job?” Obama said. “Are they against hiring construction workers to rebuild our roads and bridges and schools? Are they against giving tax cuts to virtually every worker and small business in America?”

Some Democrats are concerned about the plan’s viability. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois said this week that he doesn’t think there are enough votes in his chamber to pass the legislation.

Spending Provisions

The plan contains spending provisions as well, including a $105 billion infrastructure proposal for school modernization, transportation projects and rehabilitation of vacant properties. The administration also is seeking $35 billion in direct aid to state and local governments to stem layoffs of educators and emergency personnel.

In the Republican radio Address, Representative Morgan Griffith of Virginia urged Obama to support legislation that addresses what he called over-regulation by the federal government.

“With our economy struggling and red tape still piling up, these nuisances have become full-blown government barriers to job creation,” Griffith said. He said he doesn’t oppose “reasonable regulations” to protect public safety and the environment.

Fewer Rules

Two “unreasonable regulations,” Griffith said, would raise the cost for cement producers and a second would affect boilers used by thousands of employers. He said the “costly burdens” the government wants to impose on cement producers would lead to the shuttering of about 20 percent of U.S. cement plants.

As for the boiler rules, “these regulations would impose billions of dollars in new costs, make many goods and services more expensive and put more than 200,000 jobs at risk,” he said.

Griffith said job losses in businesses that can’t afford to keep up with the regulations are “irreversible.”

House Republicans are working on bills that will limit “excessive regulations that hamper job creation,” he said, including bipartisan bills addressing the boiler and cement regulations.

“The government should go back to the drawing board and come up with a more reasonable approach that protects the public without imposing unnecessary costs on employers and workers,” Griffith said.

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--Editors: Jim Rubin, Paul Tighe

To contact the reporter on this story: Kate Andersen Brower in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at

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