Jobs plan insurance against recession, says Obama

President Barack Obama said his plan to create jobs and rebuild US highways, bridges and schools was an "insurance policy" against the slowing economy falling back into recession and challenged Republicans to explain to the American people why they are opposed to those measures.

The embattled president also implied that he was changing course in his dealings with Congress, saying he had learned that he got nowhere by trying to find a middle ground in the huge partisan divide that now splits the American political system.



With Obama facing a tough re-election battle in 2012 and declining approval ratings, the Republicans see him as vulnerable and have refused to compromise on any legislative proposal he has sent to Congress since the party regained a majority in the House of Representatives in November 2010.



Therefore, Obama said: "I think it's fair to say that I have gone out of my way in every instance — sometimes at my own political peril and to the frustration of Democrats — to work with Republicans to find common ground to move this country forward.



That tactic has not worked, he said.



"Each time, what we've seen in games-playing, a preference to try to score political points rather than actually get something done on the part of the other side."



The president said that without his nearly $450 billion package of tax cuts and public works spending there will be fewer jobs and weaker growth. He said the bill could guard against another economic downturn if the situation in debt-laden Europe worsens.



With the plan expected to come up for debate in the Senate next week, he urged every senator to think "long and hard about what's at stake."



"Any senator out there who's thinking about voting against this jobs bill when it comes up for a vote needs to explain exactly why they would oppose something we know would improve our economic situation at such an urgent time," Obama said at a White House news conference.



"Our economy really needs a jolt right now," he said.



Obama dodged a question on whether he would sign a bill that is working through the Senate on trade with China. He refused to say if he supported the measure that would punish Beijing for its practice of keeping the value of its currency artifically low. That gives China a huge trade advantage by making its goods less expensive while inflating the prices of American exports.



While Obama's new tougher tone, his campaign to sell the jobs proposal has not swayed congressional Republicans who oppose the higher taxes he and other Democrats want to use to pay for the proposal. They accuse Obama of playing "campaigner in chief" instead of working with them.



"If the goal is to create jobs, then why are we even talking about tax hikes?" Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday.



Republicans are resolutely opposed to much of Obama's jobs initiative, both for its tax increases for wealthier people and small businesses and its reprise of stimulus spending on roads, bridges and schools and grants to local governments to pay the salaries of teachers and first responders.



Obama did say he would support a new approach by Senate Democrats for paying for his jobs bill with a tax on millionaires rather than his plan to raise taxes on couples making more than $250,000.



Obama attempted to use Thursday's news conference to increase pressure on his congressional opponents heading into the first vote on the jobs bill that he proposed a month ago. He has been promoting it around the country ever since, often traveling into swing states or the home states of key Republicans such as the leader of the House, Speaker John Boehner.



"If it turns out that Republicans are opposed to the bill, they need to explain to me, and mostly importantly their constituents, what they would do," Obama said.



Obama said the economy is weaker now than at the beginning of the year. Citing economists' estimates, he said his $447 billion jobs bill would help the economy grow by 2 percent and create 1.9 million jobs.



"At a time when people are having such a hard time, we need to have an approach that is big enough to meet the moment," he said.



Obama addressed the disaffection with politics pervasive among the public that's driven down his approval ratings — and even more so, Congress' — as he seeks a second term.



Clearly frustrated, Obama blamed it on Republicans who he said refuse to cooperate with him even on issues where he said they once agreed with him. He talked about the ugly debate over raising the government's borrowing limit that consumed Congress and the White House over the summer, until Obama gave in to Republican demands for deep spending cuts without new taxes.



"What the American people saw is that Congress just didn't care."

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Solution Architect - Contract

£500 - £600 per day: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Solution Architect is requir...

360 Resourcing Solutions: Export Sales Coordinator

£18k - 20k per year: 360 Resourcing Solutions: ROLE: Export Sales Coordinato...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Telesales Executive - OTE £35,000+

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest developer of mobile...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue