Bloomberg News

Obama Says Trade Deal Passage Shows Congress’s Inaction on Jobs

October 15, 2011

Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama said Congress’s bipartisan passage of trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama underscores its “lack of action” on his jobs plan.

“Next week, I’m urging members of Congress to vote on putting hundreds of thousands of teachers back in the classroom, cops back on the streets and firefighters back on the job,” he said today in his weekly radio and Internet address. He said he will give Republicans who control the House “another chance” to approve his $447 billion jobs plan, which he has said could be brought to Congress piecemeal after the Senate blocked consideration of the full plan on Oct. 11.

Obama said the plan, which includes spending on infrastructure, tax cuts for small businesses and aid to states to keep teachers and first responders employed, would “give the economy a jumpstart and lead to nearly 2 million new jobs.” Obama is facing a re-election year with unemployment at 9.1 percent and is looking for ways to stimulate job growth.

He said bipartisan agreement in Congress to pass the trade deals on Oct. 12 shows “why it was so disappointing to see Senate Republicans obstruct the American Jobs Act.”

Yesterday, the president visited a General Motors Co. plant near Detroit with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who was in the U.S. for a state visit. The president said the federal funds he provided to help GM and Chrysler LLC reorganize under bankruptcy in 2009 helped save the nation’s auto industry.

Touting Trade Deals

The two used the visit to tout the trade deals that will reduce or end tariffs faced by U.S. exporters and are the biggest since the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect in 1994. The Korean deal would end tariffs on about 95 percent of U.S. exports of industrial and consumer goods within five years and support about 70,000 American jobs according to the White House.

The accord provides GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC wider access to the Korean market while protecting the U.S. industry against a surge in imports from Seoul-based Hyundai Motor Co. and affiliate Kia Motors Corp.

In his address, taped while he was at GM’s Orion assembly plant, Obama accused House Republicans of “picking partisan ideological fights,” including efforts to roll back environmental protection and women’s rights. He said “economic security for the middle class” is at stake in passage of the jobs plan.

Traveling the Country

“I’m going to travel all over the country over the next few weeks so that we can remind Congress that’s their job,” he said. “If they vote ‘no’ on that, they’ll have to tell you why.  They’ll have to tell you why teachers in your community don’t deserve a paycheck again. They’ll have to tell your kids why they don’t deserve to have their teacher back.”

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, in the weekly Republican address, called on the president “to come off the campaign trail and get to work” on the passage of Republican bills to spur the economy.

“All told, the House has passed more than a dozen bills as part of our plan to get Americans working again,” he said. He said Obama should force Democrats who control the Senate to vote on the bills.

“The president needs to get off the sidelines and get involved,” McCarthy said.

Republican Ideas

He said Republicans have ideas to make Washington more accountable, including a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, which he said has had bipartisan support and would help guard against wasteful Washington spending.

“Americans deserve a long-term solution to our nation’s spending problem so that we don’t run up trillion-dollar annual deficits,” he said. “No more budget tricks, no more accounting gimmicks, no more broken promises.”

He said Republicans in Congress are working to help grow the economy and that when Obama proposed his plans Republicans “looked at our own plan and outlined specific opportunities for both parties to come together.”

House Republicans will seek to roll back some regulations on small businesses “including those that have been handed down as far back as the Great Depression, well before Twitter and Facebook, before cellphones and color TV’s, even before we landed on the moon,” McCarthy said.

--With assistance from Roger Runningen and Eric Martin in Washington. Editors: Jim Rubin, Sylvia Wier.

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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