President Barack Obama once more defended his American Jobs Act, preparing a country for a likely bloody battle over the vote as Republicans continue to fight against the bill. The president placed any blame for a potential loss on the GOP politicians and continued his plea to the American people to make their lawmakers answer for their votes.
“Congressional Republicans say the most important thing we should do is cut taxes. Then they should love this plan,” Obama said about the bill. “This jobs bill gives [construction workers] a chance to get back to rebuilding America. Why would you oppose that?”
“This jobs bill is fully paid for by asking millionaires and billionaires their fair share,” he continued. “We can fight to protect tax cuts for millionaires who didn’t ask for them, or give tax cuts to virtually every person in the country. It’s a choice.”
One AP reporter accused the president of “playing games” himself, asking him if it wouldn’t be better if he worked with Republicans on a plan that would actually pass the House rather than traveling the country “calling them out by name.” Obama responded, “I have gone out of my way to work with Republicans to find common ground and move things forward. Each time, what we’ve seen is games playing, a preference to try and score political points than to get things done on the other side. Our doors are open, and I’ve taken the case to the American people so they will understand what’s at stake. It’s up to the politicians to explain why they are opposed to it.”
Obama then asked if the Republicans have a plan that would offer the kind of economic impact and create the number of jobs that his plan is likely to produce. “If they do, I’m happy to hear it.”
The president told Chuck Todd that he is “comfortable” with the “millionaire surtax” that is being proposed by senate Democrats in order to pay for the jobs bill, however, he still wants to make tax code changes as a means of dealing with the looming deficit, pushing his own Buffett Tax to be certain the rich pay the same portion in taxes as the lower and middle class.
Obama discussed the America people’s frustration and cynicism with Congress, saying that voters no longer believe that lawmakers have an interest in getting anything done. “They think they have a different agenda,” Obama explained. “Voting for this will prove them wrong. Until they see us put country ahead of politics and partisanship, they’re going to remain skeptical.”
The president also weighed in on the Occupy Wall Street movement. “It expresses the frustrations that Americans feel. The protesters are giving voice to a more broad based expression of how the financial system works.” He said that he “did the right thing” when it came to the bailout of the financial industry, but that banks need to compete openly, not on hidden fees and derivatives that are designed for no one to know they exist. However, when asked why no one in the financial industry has been prosecuted over deceptive practices or mortgage fraud, the president backed away, stating he’s not in charge of prosecuting people. “The president can’t go around saying ‘prosecute somebody.’ That’s the Attorney General’s job.”
But once more, the questions came back to how Obama believes that the American Jobs Act can ever pass either branch of Congress.
“Here’s a homework assignment. Go ask Republicans who oppose my plan what their plan is. Send that to the same economists to score their plan as scored mine. I’d be interested to see the answer.”
“I expect bipartisan support,” he concluded. “It’s good for America.”
“If Congress does something, I can’t run against a ‘do nothing Congress.’ If Congress does nothing, it’s not me running against them, it’s the American people running them out of town.”
photo credit: Chuck Kennedy, White House Photostream