WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama bluntly challenged Congress Monday to act immediately on his new jobs plan, brandishing a copy of the legislation in the Rose Garden and demanding: “No games, no politics, no delays.”
Surrounded by police officers, firefighters, teachers, construction workers and others he said would be helped by the $447 billion package, the president said the only thing that would block its passage would be lawmakers deciding it wasn’t good politics to work with him. “We can’t afford these same political games, not now,” Obama said.
The president said he was sending the package to Congress later Monday, after unveiling it last week in a speech to a joint session of Congress. Then he’s heading out to try to sell it to the public, on Tuesday in Ohio — home state of House Speaker John Boehner — and Wednesday in North Carolina.
At the same time, the Democratic National Committee is backing up the effort with a new ad campaign in politically key states from Nevada to New Hampshire.
The centerpiece of the plan cuts payroll taxes that pay for Social Security, giving a tax break to workers and businesses. There’s also new spending for teachers and school construction, and an extension of jobless benefits, among other elements. Republican lawmakers who control the House have promised quick review of the legislation and seem open to the tax-cutting elements, but some have already rejected new spending.
Boehner had a measured response to Obama’s comments Monday, pledging to review it carefully.
“The record of the economic proposals enacted during the last Congress necessitates careful examination of the president’s latest plan as well as consideration of alternative measures that may more effectively support private-sector job creation,” the speaker said in a statement. “It is my hope that we will be able to work together to put in place the best ideas of both parties and help put Americans back to work.”
In his Rose Garden comments, Obama adopted a newly sharp tone that has pleased dispirited Democrats, deriding Republican opposition at a time when the economy has stalled and unemployment stands at 9.1 percent.
“Instead of just talking about America’s jobs creators, let’s actually do something for America’s jobs creators,” Obama said. “We can do that by passing this bill.”
But despite his suggestion that the GOP is playing politics, Obama himself has a huge political stake in success of the legislation. The 2012 presidential campaign is ramping up with Republican hopefuls attacking Obama at every turn over his stewardship of the economy, and polls showing deep public unhappiness with his economic leadership.
The new DNC ad campaign was to air beginning Monday in eight swing and early voting states, urging viewers to “Read it. Fight for it. ... Pass the President’s Jobs Plan.”