WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama bluntly challenged Congress Monday to act immediately on his new jobs plan, brandishing a copy of the legislation in the Rose Garden and demanding: “No games, no politics, no delays.”
Surrounded by police officers, firefighters, teachers, construction workers and others he said would be helped by the $447 billion package, the president said the only thing that would block its passage would be lawmakers deciding it wasn’t good politics to work with him. “We can’t afford these same political games, not now,” Obama said.
The president said he was sending the package to Congress later Monday, after unveiling it last week in a speech to a joint session of Congress. Then he’s heading out to try to sell it to the public, on Tuesday in Ohio — home state of House Speaker John Boehner — and Wednesday in North Carolina.
At the same time, the Democratic National Committee is backing up the effort with a new ad campaign in politically key states from Nevada to New Hampshire.
The centerpiece of the plan cuts payroll taxes that pay for Social Security, giving a tax break to workers and businesses. There’s also new spending for teachers and school construction, and an extension of jobless benefits, among other elements. Republican lawmakers who control the House have promised quick review of the legislation and seem open to the tax-cutting elements, but some have already rejected new spending.
Obama has said the plan could be passed without adding to the nation’s deficit, and on Monday, the White House detailed the specifics of how the legislation would be paid for. It would rely on a series of tax hikes that have all previously been proposed by the White House and rejected by Republicans. They are:
—$400 billion from limiting the itemized deductions for charitable contributions and other deductions that can be taken by individuals making over $200,000 a year and families making over $250,000;
—$40 billion from closing loopholes for oil and gas companies;
—$18 billion from requiring fund managers to pay higher taxes on certain income;
—$3 billion from changing the tax treatment of corporate jets.
White House budget director Jacob Lew said that Obama will also include those tax proposals in a broader debt-cutting package he plans to submit to a congressional supercommittee charged with finding $1.2 trillion in savings later this year. He said that the supercommittee would have the option of accepting the payment mechanisms for the jobs bill proposed by Obama, or proposing new ones.
Boehner’s initial response to Obama’s comments Monday morning was measured, with the Ohio Republican pledging to review the bill carefully. But a Boehner spokesman was less enthusiastic about the White House proposal after the administration released the details on how it planned to pay for the measure.
“We remain eager to work together on ways to support job growth, but this proposal doesn’t appear to have been offered in that bipartisan spirit,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., one of the president’s fiercest foes on Capitol Hill, also appeared to foreshadow the possibility of a fight ahead.
“For the president to sit here and say, ‘It’s pass my bill all or nothing,’ that’s just not the way things are done anywhere in Washington,” he said.
In his Rose Garden comments, Obama adopted a newly sharp tone that has pleased dispirited Democrats, deriding Republican opposition at a time when the economy has stalled and unemployment stands at 9.1 percent.
“Instead of just talking about America’s jobs creators, let’s actually do something for America’s jobs creators,” Obama said. “We can do that by passing this bill.”
But despite his suggestion that the GOP is playing politics, Obama himself has a huge political stake in success of the legislation. The 2012 presidential campaign is ramping up with Republican hopefuls attacking Obama at every turn over his stewardship of the economy, and polls showing deep public unhappiness with his economic leadership.
The new DNC ad campaign was to air beginning Monday in eight swing and early voting states, urging viewers to “Read it. Fight for it. … Pass the President’s Jobs Plan.”