Speaking in Golden Valley, Minnesota early this afternoon, President Obama said today’s jobs report shows “the economy still isn’t where it needs to be” and is urged Congress to respond by moving forward with elements of the jobs plan he proposed last September—proposals that have been blocked by House Republicans.
“We can’t fully control everything that happens in other parts of the world—disturbances in the Middle East, what’s going on in Europe, but there are plenty of things we can control here at home,” he said. “I sent Congress a jobs bill last September full of the kinds of bipartisan ideas that would have put our fellow Americans back to work and help reinforce our economy against some of these outside shots.”
President Obama noted that Congress did pass the tax cuts in his jobs bill, but has stonewalled its other proposals, including a plan to put state and local workers like teachers, cops, and firefighters back on the job, a plan to put construction workers back to work, and a plan to lower interest rates for underwater homeowners. “There’s no excuse” for inaction, Obama said. “Not when there are so many people out there looking for work.”
Obama said he understands that politics is driving much of the opposition to his proposals. “It’s not lost on anybody that it’s an election year,” he said. “But we’ve got responsibilities that are bigger than an election. We’ve got responsibilities to you. So my message to Congress is: ‘Now is not the time to play politics. Now is not the time to sit on your hands. The American people expect their leaders to work hard no matter what year it is. The economy still isn’t where it needs to be. There are steps that could make a difference right now—steps that can also serve as a buffer in case the situation in Europe gets any worse.’
Obama argued that state and local layoffs have been “a chronic problem for our recovery.” That is true: although private sector employment is up since he took office, public sector employment is down. Obama said that is “a problem we can fix right now” by Congressional passage of his plan to help states put teachers, police officers, and firefighters back on the job.
Obama also said Congress should take invest in infrastructure projects to put construction workers back on the job. “Congress should have passed a bill a long time ago putting thousands of construction workers back on the job rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our runways,” he said.
Obama said that “instead of talking about job creators” Congress should help them by passing tax credits for small businesses who hire workers and raise wages. He also called on Congress to provide assistance to responsible but underwater homeowners to allow them to refinance.