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Obama on jobs plan: 'Give me a win? Give me a break!'

September 14, 2011|By James Oliphant | Washington Bureau
  • President Obama arrives to an ovation at Reynolds Coliseum on the campus of North Carolina State University in Raleigh on Wednesday.
President Obama arrives to an ovation at Reynolds Coliseum on the campus… (Larry Downing / Reuters )

President Obama continued to stump for his jobs plan Wednesday, traveling to the battleground state of North Carolina and again suggesting that he will blame a failure by Congress to pass the package squarely on Republicans.

The president told a crowd of about 8,000 at North Carolina State University in Raleigh that the GOP was resisting the plan, in part, because Republicans don’t want to “give me a win” in advance of the 2012 elections.

“Give me a win? Give me a break!” Obama said. “That’s exactly why folks are fed up with Washington.”

Obama won North Carolina by less than 1 percentage point in 2008, and the scene Wednesday was reminiscent of his first campaign; behind him as he spoke was a sea of young, smiling faces. At one point, someone in the crowd shouted out, “I love you, Barack.”

“If you love me, you’ve got to help me pass this jobs bill,” Obama replied.

The president made no mention of losses Democrats suffered in two House special elections Tuesday evening. Prior to the speech, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that the loss in a Democratic-leaning district in New York should not be viewed as referendum on the president's handling of the economy.

"It’s a very specific case in a specific district in, obviously, a very low turnout election," Carney said. "If you’re asking me, are Americans in general anxious, not happy with Washington, the answer is yes. And I would say, as we’ve said, that every elected member of Congress -- elected official, rather, who is up for election in 14 months needs to take that mood very seriously."

Obama’s $447-billion plan, which he submitted to Congress earlier this week, would extend a payroll tax reduction for employers, stimulate school renovation and other construction projects, provide funds to keep public-sector employees such as teachers and firefighters on the job, and extend unemployment insurance. It would be paid in part for by the elimination of tax deductions for high-income families and tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.

Congressional Republicans have already restated their opposition to any permanent tax increases, and few on the Hill believe the president’s plan can be passed in its entirety.

Prior to his speech at North Carolina State, Obama toured a company, WestStar Precision in Apex, N.C., that cuts aluminum for use in aircraft.

One employee, Barry Blackman, 47, said he thought Obama’s plan would benefit his state.

Blackman said Obama, however, would need more support in Congress to get his plan through. The two parties, he said, are “working against each other, and they're not trying to back each other to get through what we need to get through to make the U.S. a viable manufacturing industry again. Because a lot of our jobs have gone overseas."

Illustrating the difficult position in which both Obama and the GOP find themselves, Blackman said he remains concerned about the federal deficit.

"What are we going to leave our kids in years to come?" he said.

Addressing that concern, Obama in his speech said: “We will pay down this plan. We will pay down our debt. We’ll cut what we can’t afford to pay for what we really need.”

A new CNN poll suggests that Obama could benefit politically from his jobs-plan push. The poll shows independent respondents close to split on his program, while a plurality of those surveyed favor it. It also found that two-thirds of those surveyed favored creating jobs over shrinking the deficit.

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