Obama: 'I Can't Run Against a Do-Nothing Congress'
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. I will take your questions in a second. But first, I just want to say a few words about the economy.
Next week, the Senate will vote on the American Jobs Act. And I think by now I’ve made my views pretty well known. Some of you are even keeping a tally of how many times I’ve talked about the American Jobs Act. And the reason I keep going around the country talking about this jobs bill is because people really need help right now. Our economy really needs a jolt right now.
This is not a game; this is not the time for the usual political gridlock. The problems Europe is having today could have a very real effect on our economy at a time when it’s already fragile. But this jobs bill can help guard against another downturn if the situation in Europe gets any worse. It will boost economic growth; it will put people back to work.
And by the way, this is not just my belief. This is what independent economists have said -- not politicians, not just people in my administration. Independent experts who do this for a living have said this jobs bill will have a significant effect for our economy and for middle-class families all across America. And what these independent experts have also said is that if we don’t act, the opposite will be true. There will be fewer jobs; there will be weaker growth.
So as we look towards next week, any senator out there who’s thinking about voting against this jobs bill, when it comes up for a vote, needs to explain exactly why they would oppose something that we know would improve our economic situation at such an urgent time for our families and for our businesses.
Congressional Republicans say one of the most important things we can do is cut taxes. Then they should love this plan. This jobs bill would cut taxes for virtually every worker and small business in America. If you’re a small business owner that hires someone or raises wages, you would get another tax cut. If you hire a veteran, you get a tax cut. Right now, there’s a small business in Ohio that does high-tech manufacturing and they’ve been expanding for the past two years. They’re considering hiring more, and this tax break would encourage them to do it.
Hundreds of thousands of teachers and firefighters and police officers have been laid off because of state budget cuts. This jobs bill has funding to put a lot of those men and women back to work. It has funding to prevent a lot more from losing their job. I had a chance to meet a young man named Robert Baroz. He’s an English teacher in Boston who came to the White House a few weeks ago. He’s got two decades of teaching experience, he’s got a Master’s degree, he’s got an outstanding track record of helping his students make huge gains in reading and writing. In the last few years, he’s received three pink slips because of budget cuts. Why wouldn’t we want to pass a bill that puts somebody like Robert back in the classroom teaching our kids?
Some of you were with me when we visited a bridge between Ohio and Kentucky that’s been classified as “functionally obsolete.” That’s a fancy way of saying it’s old and breaking down. We’ve heard about bridges in both states that are falling apart, and that’s true all across the country.
In Maine, there is a bridge that is in such bad shape that pieces of it were literally falling off the other day. And, meanwhile, we’ve got millions of laid-off construction workers who could right now be busy rebuilding roads, rebuilding bridges, rebuilding schools. This jobs bill gives them a chance to get back to work rebuilding America. Why wouldn’t we want that to happen? Why would you vote against that?
The proposals in this bill are not just random investments to create make-work jobs. They are steps we have to take if we want to build an economy that lasts, if we want to be able to compete with other countries for jobs that restore a sense of security to middle-class families. And to do that, we’ve got to have the most educated workers. We have to have the best transportation and communications networks. We have to support innovative small businesses. We’ve got to support innovative manufacturers.
Now, what’s true is we’ve also got to rein in our deficits and live within our means, which is why this jobs bill is fully paid for by asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. Some see this as class warfare. I see it as a simple choice: We can either keep taxes exactly as they are for millionaires and billionaires, with loopholes that lead them to have lower tax rates in some cases than plumbers and teachers, or we can put teachers and construction workers and veterans back on the job.
We can fight to protect tax cuts for folks who don’t need them and weren’t asking for them, or we can cut taxes for virtually every worker and small business in America. But we can’t afford to do both. That’s the choice that’s going to be before the Senate.