President Barack Obama said the Republican jobs proposal, released last week, would mean “dirtier air, dirtier water, less people with health insurance.”
“The Republican plan says that what’s been standing in the way between us and full employment are laws that keep companies from polluting as much as they want,” Obama said in a speech at the regional airport in Asheville, N.C., on Monday. “On the other hand, our plan [Obama’s plan] puts teachers, construction workers, firefighters and police officers back on the job.”
“My plan says we’re going to put teachers back in the classroom, construction workers back to work rebuilding America, rebuilding our schools, tax cuts for small businesses, tax cuts for hiring veterans, tax cuts if you give your worker a raise,” said Obama. “That’s my plan. Then you’ve got their plan, which is, let’s have dirtier air, dirtier water, less people with health insurance. So far at least, I feel better about my plan.”
Obama’s $447-billion American Jobs Act did not pass in the Senate last week even though the Democrats have a 53-47 majority in that chamber. The proposal, which would largely fund government workers is essentially a second economic stimulus plan – the first $820-billion stimulus passed in 2009 but did not prevent unemployment from rising above 9 percent and not falling below 9 percent for the last 32 months.
President Obama is now proposing to break up his proposal into separate pieces of legislation and wants Republican lawmakers to explain why they would vote against certain measures, such as hiring more teachers, police officers and firefighters.
Last week, Senate Republicans released what they called a “Real American Jobs Act.” Their proposal calls for a balanced budget amendment, tax reform, repealing Obamacare, medical malpractice reform, repealing the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, increased domestic energy production and regulatory limits on the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Labor Relations Board.
Obama was in North Carolina for the first day of a three-day American Jobs Act bus tour, which will also make stops in Virginia. These are two traditionally Republican states that Obama carried in the 2008 election, but which are expected to be difficult for him in the 2012 reelection campaign.
North Carolina has a 10.4 percent unemployment rate, higher than the national average, while Virginia has a 6.3 percent unemployment rate, doing comparatively well on the national scale, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The national unemployment rate is 9.1 percent.
“Our plan says we’re better off if every small business and worker in America gets a tax cut and that’s what’s in my jobs bill,” Obama said. “Their plan says we should go back to the good old days before the financial crisis when Wall Street was writing its own rules. They want to roll back all the reforms that we put into place.”
Since Obama took office, 2.2 million Americans jobs have been lost, according to the BLS, with 1.5 million of those jobs lost after Obama signed the first $820-billion stimulus proposal in February 2009.