President Obama kicked off his three-day bus tour through North Carolina and Virginia with an attack on the jobs plan that a group of Senate Republicans unveiled last week. Throughout the trip, the president said, he plans to “do a whole lot of listening because there doesn't seem to be much listening going on in Washington these days.” He also will begin promoting a new strategy that calls for Congress to pass his American Jobs Act through a series of smaller bills.
The tour began with a plane ride that touched down at an airport outside of Ashville, North Carolina, where he cited ways a $50 billion pool of money set aside in his jobs bill for construction projects could improve the site, which has a runway in need of repair and a taxiway in the wrong spot, which sometimes forces airplanes to be too close together. He told the crowd that when the Senate blocked his bill last week, “essentially, they said no to you.”
“We’re going to give members of Congress another chance to step up to the plate and do the right thing,” Obama said. “We’re going to break up my jobs…into bite-sized pieces. Maybe they just couldn’t understand the whole thing at once.”
The president said that he would call on Congress to begin with the portion of the bill that would fund jobs for teachers, firefighters and police officers. On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden will visit a school in York, Pennsylvania, a city that has had a lot of teacher layoffs. Obama said that he will then ask lawmakers to vote on a bill that would put construction workers back on the job or leave them sitting around “while roads and bridges and runways fall apart.”
Obama said that he has gone out of his way to find areas of compromise with Republicans and in doing so has angered his Democratic base. He also mocked the Senate Republicans’ jobs proposal, which he said would scrap regulation and let Wall Street do whatever it wants.
“They called it the real American jobs act — the real one, that's what they called it just in case you were wondering. Turns out the Republican plan boils down to a few basic ideas. They want to gut regulations. They want to let Wall Street do whatever it wants. They want to drill more. And they want to repeal health care reform. That's their jobs plan,” Obama said. “Their plan says we should go back to the good old days before the financial crisis, when Wall Street was writing its own rules. Their plan is, let’s have dirtier air, dirtier water, less people with health insurance.”
The crowd at points during the speech shouted, “Four more years!” which the president said he appreciates, but “the election is a long ways away and a lot of folks can’t wait. We don’t have time to wait. We have a choice right now.”
Obama also asked the crowd to “give Congress a piece of your mind,” and urged them to phone, write or pay a visit to their lawmakers.
Andy Card, former chief of staff to President George W. Bush called Obama’s trip a “misery tour,” Fox News reports.
"He's a very intelligent man, but that doesn't mean he has dealt with the world as it is. And he hasn't been able to make government work. He hasn't provided the real leadership that the president has to provide," Card said.
(Photo: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)