By Dan Robinson
President Obama is urging the U.S. Congress to act quickly on a $447-billion bill he is sending to Capitol Hill aimed at giving the U.S. economy a jolt by creating jobs. Obama used a Rose Garden event to urge opposition Republicans to support the legislation, saying unemployed Americans cannot afford delay.
Holding a copy of The American Jobs Act, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden appeared in the Rose Garden with about two dozen workers from various professions he cited as examples of people who the legislation will help.
Echoing his speech last week to Congress the president said the bill – which combines tax cuts, infrastructure spending and job training proposals – would help small businesses, employ construction workers, and generally strengthen the economy.
“No games, no politics, no delays. I am sending this bill to Congress today and they ought to pass it immediately,” said the president.
With national unemployment stuck above nine percent, Obama’s 2012 re-election hopes are pinned to a great degree on winning congressional approval.
The top Republican in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, said Congress should carefully examine the plan and alternative measures.
Republicans and the president, he said, should be able to work together to put in place the best ideas of both parties.
Obama said again that his job proposals are those that Republicans and Democrats have supported in the past, and that the plan can be fully paid for.
Referring again indirectly to Republicans, who he said would rather resolve differences through elections, Obama said Americans who are out of work do not have the luxury of waiting for the next election.
“The notion that there are folks who would say we are not going to try to do what is right for the American people because we do not think it is convenient for our politics, we have [been] seeing that too much around here. And that is exactly what folks are tired of,” he said.
The White House is not offering its own predictions about how many jobs will be created. Officials were encouraged by one estimate, by the chief economist at Moody’s, who projected the bill could create 1.9 million jobs and add two-percentage points to GDP next year.
Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew said the White House is “comfortable” that estimates by outside experts underscore the importance of passing the plan.
“The American people do not want us to be kind of standing here and arguing over estimates, but getting the job done to create jobs,” said Lew.
Press Secretary Jay Carney welcomed what he called recent “conciliatory messaging” from Republicans. He said that while the White House is under no illusions about the level of cooperation, the president believes lawmakers have heard American’s frustration with political bickering.
“Because the American people, the people that elected them, are now telling them with great clarity and volume, that they need to do something,” said Carney.
President Obama will announce a long-term deficit and debt-reduction plan next Monday. The White House says it will fully pay for his jobs package, stabilize the deficit and debt over 10 years, and go beyond the $1.5 trillion target of additional savings that a joint congressional committee must achieve.
Obama said again that Americans need to make sure their voices are heard in the coming debate over the jobs plan, and he will use two trips this week to urge Americans to put pressure on Congress.
On Tuesday, he makes another visit to Ohio, one of the most important election states and home to Boehner. Obama then goes to North Carolina on Wednesday to promote the jobs package.