Obama challenges GOP senators: Vote for jobs bill

WASHINGTON (AP) ? President Barack Obama defiantly challenged lawmakers Thursday to vote for his jobs plan or explain why not. “This is not a game,” he declared.

The president said that without his nearly $450 billion package of tax cuts and public works spending there will be fewer jobs and weaker growth. He said the bill could guard against another economic downturn if the situation in debt-laden Europe worsens.

With the plan expected to come up for debate in the Senate next week, he urged every senator to think “long and hard about what’s at stake.”

“Any senator out there who’s thinking about voting against this jobs bill when it comes up for a vote needs to explain exactly why they would oppose something we know would improve our economic situation at such an urgent time,” Obama said at a White House news conference.

“Our economy really needs a jolt right now,” he said.

Obama defended his new approach of jettisoning negotiations with Republicans in favor of traveling the country to assail GOP lawmakers, sometimes by name, and trying to rally public support for his plan.

He said he’s gone out of his way to work with Republicans and try to find common ground over the past two years.

“Each time, we have seen game playing,” the president said. “What I’ve done over the last several weeks is take the case to the American people so they know what is going on.”

He also said he would support a new approach by Senate Democrats for paying for his jobs bill with a tax on millionaires rather than his plan to raise taxes on couples making more than $250,000.