President Barack Obama on Tuesday continued his effort to raise public support for his plan to stimulate the U.S. economy and ease unemployment. The president took the campaign to the Midwestern state of Ohio, which could be vital to his reelection.
President Obama spoke in what is becoming a familiar setting - a rally of about 3,000 people calling for passage of his American Jobs Act.
“This is a plan that does two things. It puts people back to work and it puts more money in the pockets of working Americans,” Mr. Obama said.
The rally took place in Ohio’s capital and largest city, Columbus, at a recently-reconstructed high school. Mr. Obama highlighted the part of his plan that calls for spending to build and renovate the nation’s public schools.
“There are construction projects like these all across the country, just waiting to get started. And there are millions of unemployed construction workers who are looking for a job. So my question to Congress is: What on Earth are we waiting for?,” president said.
Mr. Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan faces opposition from Republicans and uncertain support from Democrats in Congress.
The top Senate Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, says the jobs plan is not serious and is geared more toward Mr. Obama’s reelection than addressing the nation’s economic problems. He also questioned whether it would work.
“In reality, all he is doing is just proposing a hodgepodge of retread [previous] ideas, aimed at convincing people that a temporary fix is really permanent and that it will create permanent jobs, and then daring Republicans to vote against it,” McConnell said.
Democratic Senator Richard Durbin defended the president's plan, saying it would help the economy.
“I do not think the Republican leader is fair in calling this a hodgepodge. I think it is a carefully constructed plan to get this economy moving forward. What really troubles the Republican leader, and I know he said as much this morning, is that President Obama pays for it,” Durbin said.
Some aspects of the plan would be paid for through a tax increase for wealthy Americans, which Republicans strongly oppose. Top Republican lawmakers say they will not pass the entire plan, but would consider approving parts of it.
White House officials say the president would be open to signing any portions of the plan that Congress passes.
Some of Mr. Obama's fellow Democrats have criticized the president for not being aggressive enough in fighting for their party’s principles.
Mr. Obama’s public approval ratings are the lowest of his presidency, and the opinion polls show that some of the voters who supported him in 2008 are now considering voting for a Republican presidential candidate.
Tuesday’s visit to Ohio is the second of at least three trips the president is making to promote his plan in so-called “battleground” states, where elections are often decided. Last week, he made a similar speech in Virginia, and a third is scheduled for Wednesday in North Carolina.
Ohio is also the home state of the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner. Mr. Obama’s previous economic speech was in the home state of the number-two House Republican, Eric Cantor of Virginia.