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Obama seeks public pressure on lawmakers to pass jobs bill
Republicans not keen on all parts of his proposal
President Obama took his campaign for a second stimulus bill and higher taxes Tuesday to the home state of Speaker John A. Boehner, urging Ohioans to tell Republican lawmakers to "stop worrying about their jobs and start worrying about your jobs."
"This isn't about giving me a win," Mr. Obama told an audience at a newly renovated high school in Columbus, Ohio. "It's about giving the American people a win."
Mr. Obama sent his $447 billion jobs bill to Congress Monday, including $60 billion for rebuilding schools and hiring teachers. The administration's first stimulus bill in 2009 spent about $100 billion on education programs, mostly to prevent teacher layoffs.
The White House proposes to pay for the plan with a mix of tax increases — limiting itemized deductions for families earning more than $250,000 per year, and ending tax breaks for oil and gas companies, hedge-fund managers and corporate jet owners.
"Ohio, if you pass this bill, then tens of thousands of construction workers right here in this state will have a job again," Mr. Obama said.
As if to exert added pressure on Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, Education Secretary Arne Duncan pointed out that Ohio public schools would receive $985 million in the plan to modernize buildings and hire teachers.
Mr. Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, say they are open to parts of the jobs plan, but they oppose the president's proposal to tax wealthier Americans to pay for the bill.
"I just don't think that's going to help our economy the way it could," Mr. Boehner said.
"Now is not the time to raise taxes on anybody if we are trying to grow this economy," Mr. Cantor said Tuesday at an event hosted by the American Action Forum, a think tank. "What you see is a tax on the very people you would expect and want to create jobs."
Mr. Cantor also said it's a bad idea to discourage charitable donations in dire economic times.
"Why would we want to put an impediment in the way of the charities accessing funding when the charities are the ones out there helping the people in need right now?" he said. "It doesn't make sense."
Although Mr. Obama is tirelessly using the phrase "pass this bill," he let it slip that he would accept it if Congress passes only parts of the legislation. The president told a group of journalists Monday, "Obviously, if they pass parts of it, I am not going to veto those parts."
But senior adviser David Axelrod continued to insist Tuesday that the bill is an all-or-nothing proposition.
"We're not in a negotiation to break up the package," Mr. Axelrod said on ABC's "Good Morning America." "It's not an a la carte menu. The president has a package; the package works together. We need to do many things to get this economy moving."
Mr. Obama and his press secretary, Jay Carney, said the president would continue to push for the rest of his proposals if lawmakers don't approve them all at once.
GOP lawmakers have said they are open to some of the president's proposals, such as cutting the payroll tax for employees and employers and granting tax credits to employers who hire the unemployed. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said the president's plan rests on proposed tax hikes that lawmakers in both parties have rejected in recent years.
"If the President is truly interested in growing the economy and putting Americans back to work, then he'll leave the temporary proposals and the half-measures — and the tax hikes — aside," Mr. McConnell said. "He'll consult with both parties and work with us on a plan that indicates he's learned something from the failures of the past two years, and which actually has a chance of attracting bipartisan support. He could start with a permanent reform of our broken tax system, reducing out-of-control federal regulations, and by passing the trade bills that have been sitting on his desk since inauguration day 2009.
"All of this is doable, all of it should attract bipartisan support, and all of it would create jobs," Mr. McConnell said. That would be a jobs plan worthy of the seriousness of the moment. But make no mistake: what the president's proposed so far is not serious."
Spending elements in the jobs bill also include more money for extended unemployment benefits and $5 billion for a youth summer jobs program next year. There are also tax credits to encourage businesses to hire veterans and the long-term unemployed.
The president and his advisers have said they will campaign against congressional Republicans next year if lawmakers don't approve the jobs bill. Mr. Cantor sounded on Tuesday as if he and other GOP leaders are willing to take that chance.
"Maybe the issue of taxation, maybe some of these other issues will have to be left for the next election," Mr. Cantor said. "Because I believe what we're headed for over the next 14 months is a season in which there will be a robust debate culminating in November 2012 about the very question of who we want to be as a country."
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About the Author
Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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