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'No excuse for inaction'; Obama presses jobs plan in weekly address

June 09, 2012|By Maeve Reston
  • President Obama speaks to the press during in the Oval Office at the White House on June 8, 2012.
President Obama speaks to the press during in the Oval Office at the White… (Kevin Dietsch / Pool/Getty…)

President Obama renewed his push for his stalled jobs bill in his weekly address Saturday, arguing that the legislation could play a critical role in preventing teachers around the country from being pink-slipped in cash-strapped states.

"It should concern everyone that right now – all across America – tens of thousands of teachers are getting laid off," Obama said, citing the loss of some 250,000 educators over the past three years nationwide, as well as the shrinking pool of teachers in the swing states of Pennsylvania and Ohio. "When there are fewer teachers in our schools, class sizes start climbing up. Our students start falling behind.  And our economy takes a hit."

Obama's campaign has argued that the American Jobs Act could create a million jobs. When he rolled out the plan last fall, the President proposed devoting $35 billion to prevent layoffs of 280,000 teachers while hiring "tens of thousands" of police officers and firefighters. Congress passed a few elements of the bill but not that portion directing aid to states and municipalities.

"When states struggle, it's up to Congress to step in and help out," Obama said in his address Saturday. "In 2009 and in 2010, we provided aid to states to help keep hundreds of thousands of teachers in the classroom.  But we need to do more…. There's no excuse for inaction."

On Friday, after Romney chided the president for pointing to positive signs in the nation's economy, Obama's campaign scored Romney for mocking the President's call for another stimulus that would include the hiring of more firemen, policemen and teachers.

"Did he not get the message of Wisconsin?" Romney said in Iowa, referring to Tuesday's failed recall election of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who had targeted public employee bargaining rights. "The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people."

Seizing on those remarks, Obama's press secretary Ben LaBolt fired back that Romney not only is "opposed [to] the President's plan to create one million jobs, he is actually calling for further job loss in the sector that needs the most urgent boost." 

The difficulty in measuring jobs gained or retained by the $787-billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act made the program a ripe target for Republicans during the 2010 mid-term elections.

Romney has frequently argued that much of the stimulus money was wasted on projects that had little long term effect. He campaigned in New Hampshire last month in front of a historic stone bridge that is only accessible from one side and has yet to be turned into a park with stimulus dollars as promised.

maeve.reston@latimes.com

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