Bloomberg News

Obama Criticizes Republicans for Blocking His Jobs Proposal

October 17, 2011

(Updates with Senate Democratic plans in sixth paragraph, Obama stop in Greensboro, North Carolina in 13th.)

Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama called on Congress to pass elements of his jobs proposal and attacked Republican alternatives, saying his plan is the “real Americans Jobs Act.”

After Republicans blocked his $447 billion package of tax cuts and spending in the Senate, Obama is seeking to tap into populist anger in his campaign to get lawmakers to pass individual provisions of the proposal.

The Republicans “want to gut regulations” and “let Wall Street do whatever it wants,” Obama said today in Fletcher, North Carolina, where he started a three-day, 560-mile bus tour that also will take him to Virginia. Obama won both Republican- leaning states in 2008 and seeks to hold both in next year’s election.

“I need you to give Congress a piece of your mind,” he said. “Tell your elected leaders to do the right thing.”

Six weeks after Obama unveiled his plan and with voters increasingly anxious about the direction of the country, the president is using his bus tour to blame Republicans for Congress’s failure to enact his package of tax cuts and spending measures that the White House says would spur growth and lower the 9.1 percent unemployment rate.

Aid to States

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is demanding a vote on the first piece of the broken-up a jobs package, providing $35 billion in aid to cash-strapped state governments. The Nevada Democrat said it would help save the jobs of teachers, firefighters and other public-sector workers. Reid would pay for it with a half-percent surtax on individuals with annual incomes of $1 million or more.

The legislation is unlikely to pass the Senate; Republicans, who have a majority in the House and enough votes in the Senate to block legislation, have rejected raising taxes to pay for the plan. They also object to additional spending when the nation is struggling with a budget deficit that was $1.3 trillion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. It was the third consecutive year that the shortfall has exceeded $1 trillion.

Republicans said the president, in hitting states he seeks to win in 2012, is focused more on politics than economy.

More Cooperation

“It’s disappointing the president would rather give more partisan speeches than work with Republicans to find common ground,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. “There are things we can do right now to help struggling American families, but it will require more cooperation and less campaigning from the White House.”

The North Carolina Republican Party responded to Obama’s visit with a “Towbama” campaign that features a tow truck as a prop and an offer to “tow that bus back” to Washington so Obama can work on economic policy, Robin Hayes, the state party chairman, said on a conference call.

Of the $35 billion to states and communities, more than $900 million would help teachers and first responders in North Carolina and would support 13,400 jobs across the state, where the unemployment rate is above the national average at 10.4 percent, according to the administration.

Obama cited the state’s need for federal help with infrastructure projects that would put construction workers back on the job, including runways and taxiways at Asheville Regional Airport, where he spoke. The airport authority is seeking $60 million for renovations. The jobs bill includes $2 billion for airport infrastructure projects.

Compromise

The president sought to cast himself as so willing to compromise that he angered members of his own party.

“I want to work with Republicans in any way possible to create jobs right now,” Obama said at his last stop, West Wilkes High School in Millers Creek, North Carolina, about 112 miles (180 kilometers) from the Asheville area where he began the trip. “I have bent over backwards, I have shown myself to be willing.”

Obama will spend the night in Greensboro with another stop in North Carolina scheduled for tomorrow before he heads into neighboring Virginia.

Obama narrowly won North Carolina in 2008, by 0.3 percent of the vote, making him the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the state in 32 years. An Oct. 6 Public Policy Polling survey shows Obama’s job approval rating in North Carolina virtually unchanged since September with 44 percent approving and 53 percent disapproving.

--With assistance from Margaret Talev, Laura Litvan and Kate Andersen Brower in Washington. Editors: Joe Sobczyk, Justin Blum

To contact the reporters on this story: Julianna Goldman in Fletcher, North Carolina, at jgoldman6@bloomberg.net; Roger Runningen in Washington at rrunningen@bloomberg.net

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


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