DALLAS (AP) ? President Barack Obama is singling out and criticizing House Republican leader Eric Cantor for declaring that the president’s entire $447 billion jobs bill will not get a vote in the House.
“I’d like Mr. Cantor to come down here to Dallas and explain what in this jobs bill he doesn’t believe in,” Obama says in remarks prepared for delivery in Texas Tuesday.
Obama’s remarks come a day after Cantor said Obama’s jobs plan contained elements that Republicans could support. “This all or nothing approach is unreasonable,” Cantor said.
Obama is stepping up the campaign for his jobs bills, sharpening his strategy to blame Republicans if his bill, or at least significant portions of it, don’t pass by the end of the year. Three weeks after sending the legislation to Congress, the full proposal has encountered resistance from Republicans and even from some Democrats.
Republicans have identified pieces of the legislation they could support, including a payroll tax cut for workers and employers. In a letter to GOP members late month, they also listed other tax relief in the president’s proposal that they would be prepared to endorse. And in a letter Monday to Obama, House GOP leaders said they were willing to look for common ground and called on the president to support their efforts to ease regulations on businesses.
White House spokesman Jay Carney, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Dallas, said Republicans should specify what in the president’s bill they oppose.
“Say so. Vote accordingly,” Carney said. “But don’t hide behind letters you’ve sent to the president. Tell us where you stand.”
Obama has become increasingly forceful in singling out Republican opposition to his bill.
Several of the president’s trips have taken him to the backyards of his Republican rivals, most notably a speech he gave last month in front of a bridge linking Ohio and Kentucky, the home states of House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He also spoke in Cantor’s district in Richmond, Va.
Tuesday’s trip continued that trend, taking Obama to Mesquite, Texas ? not only to the district of Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Republican co-chair of the congressional supercommittee on deficit reduction, but also the home state of Gov. Rick Perry, one of the top Republican presidential candidates.
Still, the president’s plan has also encountered opposition within his own party, especially his proposal to increase taxes on the wealthy and on corporations to pay for jobs program.
His package would reduce payroll taxes on workers and employers, extend benefits to long-term unemployed people, spend money on public works projects and help states and local governments keep teachers, police officers and firefighters on the job. He would pay for the plan with tax increases on wealthier Americans and by closing corporate tax loopholes.
With Congress willing to consider only pieces of the administration’s bill, the White House is making a concerted effort to highlight the individual components of the president’s measure, not just sell it as a full package
On Tuesday, the focus was on selling the bill’s education proposals. The White House says the measure would prevent the layoff of up to 280,000 teachers across the country while also allowing states to hire back tens of thousands more. The administration also says new spending would go toward modernizing at least 35,000 public schools and community colleges.
Referring to a teacher from the Dallas suburbs, Obama, according to excerpts released by the White House ahead of his remarks, says: “Mr. Cantor should come down to Dallas, look Kim Russell in the eye, and tell her why she doesn’t deserve to get a paycheck again. Come tell her students why they don’t deserve to have their teacher back.”