Barack Obama Urges Republican Leaders to Vote for His Jobs Plan

President Obama urged GOP leaders to put his entire $447 billion jobs plan to a vote, rather than breaking it up, to show American voters “exactly where members of Congress stand.”

President Barack Obama talks with children during a tour of the Lab School's early childhood education classrooms at Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas, Oct. 4, 2011. Photo: Pete Souza/The Official White House

Republicans oppose president Obama’s jobs bill mostly because of the tax increases proposed to offset the $447 billion cost of extending temporary payroll tax cuts for all workers, cutting taxes for employers and providing additional spending for infrastructure work and for aid to local governments.

At Eastfield College in Mesquite, just east of Dallas, Mr. Obama almost shouted into the microphone, as if he were speaking to the Congressional leadership: “The time for gridlock and games is over. The time for action is now.”

“Give me a win? Give me a break,” he said, bringing the enthusiastic and diverse crowd of more than 1,000 to its feet.

“This is not about giving Democrats or Republicans a win. This is about giving people who are hurting a win. This is about giving small-business owners a win, and entrepreneurs a win, and students a win, and working families a win.  This is about giving America a win.”

Barack Obama also critisized Eric Cantor, Republican leader in the House of Representatives, for saying he would not allow a vote on the measure. The White House said the plan could save or create about 400,000 education jobs, including 39,500 in Texas.

“I’d like Mr. Cantor to come down here to Dallas and explain what exactly in this jobs bill does he not believe in,” Barack Obama said at a college after speaking at fund-raising events in the city.

“And if you won’t do that, at least put this jobs bill up for a vote so that the entire country knows exactly where members of Congress stand. Put your cards on the table.”

“President Obama needs to understand that his ‘my way or the highway’ approach simply isn’t going to work in the House or the Democratic Senate, especially in light of his abysmal record on jobs,” Cantor’s spokesman, Brad Dayspring, responded in a statement.

He continued: “Republicans are trying to work together despite our disagreements – why isn’t the president?”

At the same time, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said about the bill: “We don’t agree that it is the right policy but we are willing to vote on it.”

But Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid blocked the move, mindful that he may not have enough votes to pass the jobs program as his colleagues explore more ways to pay for it, including other tax hikes or savings through spending cuts.

Kevin Smith, a spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, said Congress should concentrate on areas where Republicans have identified common ground with Democrats on jobs. “That should be our focus,” he said, “not desperate gimmicks floated to cover up divisions within the Democratic caucus.”

“What we saw in the Senate today was a political stunt essentially by the Senate minority leader to attach the jobs bill to the China bill without debate,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters traveling with Obama.

Referring to McConnell’s move, Carney said, “I would simply point out that this is coming from a senator who stated his number-one priority as the Republican leader in the Senate, not the economy, not jobs, but is to defeat President Obama.”

“If we want to put people back to work and close this deficit and invest in our future, then the money has got to come from somewhere,” Mr. Obama added.  “So you’ve got a choice.  Would you rather keep tax loopholes for oil companies that are doing just fine?  I know I’m inTexas.  I know there’s a lot of oil here. But they’re doing fine.”

The bill could be broken up to ease passage of the parts Republicans could support, such as extending a tax break for businesses allowing them to write off new equipment purchases. [via Huff Post, The New York Times and CNN]

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