President Obama traveled to Mesquite, Texas, on Tuesday in search of support for his jobs bill. Each time he’s taken his pitch on the road, he has tried to highlight a different component. This time the focus was on the legislation’s education-related provisions. According to the White House, the bill would prevent the layoff of up to 280,000 teachers across the nation, including 40,000 in Texas, and modernize at least 35,000 public schools and community colleges.
As on recent visits to key battleground states to promote his plan, Obama called on Congress to move on the bill, which he would like to see passed by the end of the month.
“Do your job, Congress!” he said, and asked the audience of about 1,500 who gathered at Eastfield College to hear him speak to “lift up your voice” to pressure Republicans to support the bill.
He also called out Majority Leader Eric Cantor who earlier this week pronounced the American Jobs Act dead on arrival in the House. The Virginia Republican said that the chamber would consider portions of the bill, but that it would not be passed in its entirety.
“Eric Cantor said that right now, he won’t even let this jobs bill have a vote in the House of Representatives. That’s what he said. Won’t even let it be debated. Think about that. What’s the problem? Do they not have the time? They just had a week off. Is it inconvenient?” Obama said. “I’d like Mr. Cantor to come down here to Dallas and explain what exactly in this bill he does not believe in.”
Before Obama had even arrived in Mesquite, Cantor’s office responded to excerpts of the president’s speech that had been released by the White House.
“President Obama needs to understand that his ‘my way or the highway’ approach simply isn’t going to work in the House or the Democratic Senate, especially in light of his abysmal record on jobs,” said communications director Brad Dayspring. “Serious problems deserve serious leadership and the American people have gone without it for far too long. Republicans are trying to work together despite our disagreements — why isn’t the president?”
But Obama insists that it is the Republicans who won’t work with him.
“I realize that some Republicans in Washington are resistant, partly because I proposed it. If I took the [GOP] party platform and proposed it, they’d suddenly be against it,” he said.
The president has taken hits from both the left and the right during partisan battles that nearly brought the country to a government shutdown and a government default, and definitely has brought Obama’s approval ratings to unprecedented new lows. He has taken an offensive approach to getting his jobs plan through Congress by working to convince the American public each week on the road or in broadcast and print interviews that if the bill fails it will be because of Republican lawmakers’ refusal to back it.
(Photo: EPA/LARRY W. SMITH/LANDOV)