President Barack Obama will call on Congress this week to send $35 billion to communities to rehire teachers, firefighters and police, in the first stage of his strategy to get some parts of his jobs plan enacted, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said yesterday.
“It’s the president’s view that they should take up first the proposal that’s included in the American Jobs Act to help communities rehire teachers, police officers and firefighters,” Earnest said on a conference call with reporters previewing the president’s bus trip to North Carolina and Virginia Oct. 17 to Oct. 19. “That’s where he believes the process should get started and he believes that process should start this week.”
The Senate blocked the $447 billion comprehensive package last week. Obama is blaming Republicans for lacking a plan and blocking progress.
Earnest rejected the notion that the trip is politically motivated, saying “there’s no specific reason” why the president would “target” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s home state of Virginia.
If Cantor decides to support the plan because of the president’s appeal to voters in his state then “that would be an important priority of the trip accomplished,” Earnest said on the call. Earnest said since the trip is considered official business, no part of it is being paid for by his re-election campaign.
Earnest said the $35 billion in assistance to states and communities would “support nearly 400,000 educator jobs nationwide in addition to first responders.” He said that would translate into more than $900 million for North Carolina and would support 13,400 jobs across that state.
In his weekly radio and Internet address the president said that he would give Republicans who control the House “another chance” to approve his jobs plan, which he has said could be brought to Congress piecemeal after the Senate blocked consideration of the full plan on Oct. 11.
Obama said the plan, which includes spending on infrastructure, tax cuts for small businesses and aid to states, would “give the economy a jumpstart and lead to nearly 2 million new jobs.”
Obama is facing a re-election year with unemployment at 9.1 percent and is looking for ways to stimulate job growth. He is taking his message across the nation, seeking to make the case to middle class voters that he represents their interests.
When asked about the president’s message to protesters involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, Earnest said the president will “continue to acknowledge the frustration that he himself shares about the need for Washington to do more to support our economic recovery.”