FLETCHER, NC -- In the first remarks of his three-day bus tour through North Carolina and Virginia, President Obama asked for bipartisan passage of components of his jobs bill -- before blasting Republicans on their jobs plan.
“My plan says we're going to put teachers back in the classroom, construction workers back to work rebuilding America, rebuilding our schools, tax cuts for small businesses,” he said here. “And then you got their plan, which is let's have dirtier air, dirtier water, less people with health insurance.”
The president dismissed the Republican’s ideas as ineffective. “One of the same economists that took a look at our plan took a look at the Republican plan, and they said, ‘Well, this won't do much to help the economy in the short term.” Obama continued, “We could actually lose jobs with their plan.”
He also tried to turn a negative -- having to break his bill up into its component pieces to get it through Congress, after the Senate blocked the full measure last week -- into a positive. “We’re going to break up my jobs bill. Maybe they just couldn't understand the whole thing all at once,” Obama said with a touch of humor. “I'm going to ask members of Congress to vote on one component of the plan, which is whether we should put hundreds of thousands of teachers back in the classroom and cops back on the street and firefighters back to work.”
Last month, the White House estimated that this part of the plan would cost about $35 billion and go towards aiding the states in preventing more teacher and first-responder layoffs. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said he expects an announcement from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid soon on when and how this part of the bill will be voted on. (It is unclear how this component or any individual part of the jobs plan will be paid for.)
Obama's tone was not lost on congressional Republicans. Speaker John Boehner's press secretary fired off a note calling the president’s words “hyperbole,” adding that it was the speaker and Majority Leader Eric Cantor who “first proposed working together to break up the president’s bill to see parts of it passed.”
Obama's fired-up rhetoric -- coupled with the big black bus waiting to whisk the president to his next event in Miller’s Creek, NC and previously unannounced stops like at Countryside BBQ Chicken in Marion, NC -- was also not lost on an audience that chanted “four more years” in the middle of the speech.
Obama quickly tried to quiet them, “I appreciate the 'four more years,' but right now I'm thinking about the next 13 month. Because, yes, we've got an election coming up, but that election is a long ways away and a lot of folks can't wait.”