The president told a crowd of about 8,000 at North Carolina State University in Raleigh that the GOP was resisting the plan, in part, because Republicans don’t want to “give me a win” in advance of the 2012 elections.
“You need leaders who will put country before party,” Obama told a cheering crowd at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. “The time for gridlock and games is over. The time for action is now.”
“Give me a win? Give me a break!” Obama said. “That’s exactly why folks are fed up with Washington. “My question is, ‘What’s Congress waiting for?’ ” Obama said. “There’s work to be done; there are workers ready to do it. Let’s pass this jobs bill right away, and let’s get it done.”
Taking aim at Republican resistance to parts of his job plan, Obama said: “It’s not about positioning for the election. It’s about giving the American people a win.
“I get fed up with that kind of game playing,” he said. “We’re in a national emergency … and instead of getting folks to rise up above partisanship in a spirit that says we’re all in this together you’ve got folks who are purposely dividing.”
At one point, someone in the crowd shouted out, “I love you, Barack.” Obama replied: “If you love me, you’ve got to help me pass this jobs bill.”
Obama and the Republicans – all looking toward elections in November 2012 – are locked in their third major budget battle of the year, after a near-shutdown of the government in April, a last-minute deal to avert a government default in August and negotiations now over the president’s jobs plan.
Obama’s $447-billion plan, which he submitted to Congress earlier this week, would extend a payroll tax reduction for employers, stimulate school renovation and other construction projects, provide funds to keep public-sector employees such as teachers and firefighters on the job, and extend unemployment insurance.
It would be paid in part for by the elimination of tax deductions for high-income families and tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.
Congressional Republicans have already restated their opposition to any permanent tax increases, and few on the Hill believe the president’s plan can be passed in its entirety.
Obama’s approval ratings got a small lift – to 47 percent from 45 percent – after he unveiled his jobs plan last week and he remains ahead of all potential Republican rivals in the 2012 election, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed.
But a CNN/ORC poll found Obama’s disapproval rating had reached a new high of 55 percent, while only 36 percent of those surveyed approve of his handling of the economy.
Adding to Obama’s woes, Republicans scored an upset victory in a congressional election on Tuesday in a Democratic stronghold of New York and trumpeted the win as a sign of voter discontent with the president’s policies.
Less than a week after Obama unveiled his jobs plan, New York City voters elected Republican Bob Turner, a retired media executive, in a House district held by a Democrat since the 1920s.
Turner — winner of a special election for the seat vacated by Anthony Weiner after a Twitter sex scandal — said voters had sent the message: “‘Mr. President, we are on the wrong track.'”
Prior to the speech, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that the loss in a Democratic-leaning district in New York should not be viewed as referendum on the president’s handling of the economy.
“It’s a very specific case in a specific district in, obviously, a very low turnout election,” Carney said. “If you’re asking me, are Americans in general anxious, not happy with Washington, the answer is yes. And I would say, as we’ve said, that every elected member of Congress — elected official, rather, who is up for election in 14 months needs to take that mood very seriously.”
A Bloomberg national poll released hours before the president’s visit showed that 51 percent of Americans doubt his package will create jobs, compared to 40 percent who think it will work.