WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says he's going to travel the country telling lawmakers to do their jobs and vote in favor of his economic proposals, and he says congressional Republicans should stop picking partisan fights and act.
Coming off a week when his nearly $450 billion jobs bill died in the Senate, Obama made no reference to that failure, instead promising to renew efforts to get Republicans to vote on individual components of the legislation.
"Next week, I'm urging members of Congress to vote on putting hundreds of thousands of teachers back in the classroom, cops back on the streets and firefighters back on the job," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday.
"And if they vote `no' on that, they'll have to tell you why," he said. "They'll have to tell you why teachers in your community don't deserve a paycheck again. They'll have to tell your kids why they don't deserve to have their teacher back. They'll have to tell you why they're against common-sense proposals that would help families and strengthen our communities right now."
Obama recorded the weekly address from the Detroit area, where he traveled Friday with the president of South Korea to highlight congressional passage of a free-trade agreement with South Korea as well as pacts with Colombia and Panama.
Obama praised Congress' rare bipartisan action on the trade deals but said lawmakers needed to do more. In the Senate earlier in the week, Republicans who object to higher taxes on the wealthy and spending proposals blocked his jobs bill, but now Obama and Senate Democratic leaders plan to break the measure into pieces and try to pass it that way – or blame the GOP for standing in the way.
The bill includes extension of a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits as well as spending on public works projects and help for local governments to keep teachers and other public workers on the job.
"There's still time to create jobs and grow our economy right now. There's still time for Congress to do the right thing," said Obama, who is embarking on a three-day bus tour through North Carolina and Virginia on Monday to promote his jobs plans in two politically important states, keeping up a campaign-style push for the measure as the 2012 presidential election gains steam.
Republicans used their weekly address to criticize Obama's proposals while saying that they want to work with the president to create jobs, just without "more Washington spending and taxes."
"The president needs to get off the sidelines and get involved," said Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. "The president needs to come off the campaign trail and get to work."
He said the president should support legislation passed by the Republican-led House, including bills to roll back regulations.
"In the spirit of working together on jobs, I urge the president to call on leaders in his party to follow the House, listen to the American people, stop pushing ideas we know won't work and pass these jobs bills," McCarthy said.
And according to McCarthy it's Obama – not the GOP – playing partisan games.
"Americans deserve progress, not partisanship," McCarthy said. "Americans deserve a long-term solution to our nation's spending problem so that we don't run up trillion-dollar annual deficits."
Obama address: www.whitehouse.govGOP address: www.youtube.com/HouseConference