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President pressures Congress on jobs bill

By Erica Werner
Associated Press / September 14, 2011

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Imploring Congress to follow his lead, President Obama yesterday lobbied lawmakers to adopt his nearly $450 billion jobs plan, promising it would help workers in the construction industry and rebuild schools in crumbling condition. Said Obama: “My question to Congress is, what on earth are we waiting for?’’

From a high school in the critical electoral state of Ohio, Obama delivered a fiery speech to plug his plan. The outdoor audience was receptive to the point of adopting his refrain and chanting it back to him, shouting: “Pass this bill!’’

In Ohio alone, Obama said, the bill would create jobs for tens of thousands of construction workers.

Yet Republican lawmakers who control the House flatly oppose his plans to pay for his plan by raising taxes on wealthier Americans.

In trying to win over the voting public and build pressure on Congress, Obama has made his pitch in Virginia, the home state of House Republican leader Eric Cantor, and Ohio, home of House Speaker John Boehner. He will travel on today to North Carolina.

Republicans on Capitol Hill say the president is merely repackaging ideas they have rejected. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, said Obama was essentially daring Republicans to vote against his ideas again. “I think most people see through all this,’’ McConnell said.

Obama’s jobs package would offer tax cuts for workers and employers by reducing the Social Security payroll tax. Spending elements include more money to hire teachers, rebuild schools, and pay unemployment benefits. There are also tax credits to encourage businesses to hire veterans and the long-term unemployed. He proposes to cover most of the cost, nearly $400 billion, by limiting the deductions on charitable contributions and other items that wealthy people can take. There’s also $40 billion from closing oil and gas loopholes, $18 billion from hiking taxes on certain income made by fund managers, and $3 billion from changing the tax treatment of corporate jets.

“We’ve got to make sure that everybody pays their fair share including the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations,’’ said Obama outside Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School. “We’ve got to decide what our priorities are.’’

Boehner and other Republicans grew notably more skeptical Monday once the White House announced plans to pay for the costly measure entirely with tax increases on the rich and corporations.