Speaking before a boisterous and largely union crowd of about 13,000 people in Detroit Monday, President Obama provided a preview of his upcoming speech before a joint center of Congress in which he will unveil a highly anticipated jobs plan. He called on Congress to end “Washington games” and support initiatives that will help the middle class and put Americans back to work.
“We're going to see if we've got some straight-shooters in Congress," Obama said. "We're going to see if congressional Republicans will put country before party."
As he has done repeatedly in the past few weeks, the president spoke about the need to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and the one million jobs that could quickly put construction workers who are ready “to get dirty” back to work. The only obstacle, he suggested, is Congress.
“I’m going to propose ways to put America back to work that both parties can agree to, because I still believe both parties can work together to solve our problems,’’ Obama said at the Labor Day rally sponsored by the Detroit-area AFL-CIO. “Given the urgency of this moment, given the hardship that many people are facing, folks have got to get together. But we’re not going to wait for them.’’
He also called for the passage of pending trade deals to open new markets for American-made goods and services. And, he challenged Republicans to fight as hard to cut taxes for the middle class as they’ve fought for the wealthiest Americans and profitable oil companies, and to support the extension of payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits set to expire Jan. 1.
“Show us what you got,” said, Obama, whose remarks were frequently interrupted by shouts of “Four more years!”
The president promised to fight for collective bargaining and workers’ rights, touting his administration’s efforts to save the auto industry.
"We stood by the auto industry and we made some tough choices that were necessary to succeed,” he said. "And now the Big Three is turning a profit and hiring workers and building the best cars, right here in Detroit, right here in the Midwest, right here in the United States of America."
He acknowledged that times are tough for people in Detroit and all around the nation, but by working together Americans can overcome them as they have in the past.
"I don't know about you, but I'm not scared of tough times,” he said. “I'm not scared of tough times because I know we're going to be all marching together and walking together and working together and rebuilding together and I know we don't quit. I know we don't give up our dreams and settle for something less."
(Photo: JEFF KOWALSKY/EPA/Landov)