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President Obama urges Congress to pass jobs bill

9:54 AM, Jun 8, 2012   |    comments
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(Photo credit BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

By David Jackson, USA TODAY

President Obama urged Congress again this morning to pass a jobs bill during a hastily scheduled White House statement.

"We've got to keep on pressing with actions that can strengthen the economy," Obama said. "There's no excuse for not passing these ideas. We know they can work."

The goal of the plan, Obama said, is to create jobs for state and local employees and construction workers -- areas that remain weak in an otherwise growing economy, he said.

"Those two areas we've directly addressed with our jobs plan," the president said. "The problem is that it requires Congress to take action."

The White House said his proposals were "bipartisan, paid-for ideas that the president proposed last year to put construction workers back to work upgrading our roads and bridges, teachers back in the classroom educating our kids, and police and firefighters back on the job keeping our communities safe."

Obama also addressed the economic situation in Europe, "which continues to pose headwinds to our recovery here at home," the White House statement said.

"The challenges they face are solvable," Obama added. "They're moving in the right direction."

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said that after almost four years, the blame is Obama's for "too much spending, too much debt, too much borrowing, and a very, very sluggish economy."

And Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said "the House has passed more than 30 jobs bills that are sitting in the Senate right now -- bills focused on energy, regulations, and small business tax relief. That is our to-do list for Democrats."

But Obama said GOP efforts are wrongheaded.

"The recipes that they're promoting are basically the kinds of policies that would add weaknesses to the economy, would result in further layoffs," he said.

The appearance caps a bad week for Obama and his re-election campaign. It included:

A depressing jobs report on June 1, when the Commerce Department said unemployment had risen to 8.2% in May.
Mixed messages from former president Bill Clinton about the need for more tax cuts.
Apparent momentum for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

In addition, Obama's Democrats took a defeat in Wisconsin with the failure of a union-led bid to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Obama took a few questions after delivering his statement -- on the European debt crisis, Republican charges that he's blaming Europe for his own economic missteps, and recent leaks of classified national security information.

"The situation in Europe is not simply a debt crisis," he said. While some countries, such as Greece, are in debt, others have weaknesses similar to those in the United States that have weakened their financial systems, he said.

"The markets, getting nervous, have started making it much more expensive for them to borrow, and that gets them in a downward spiral," he said.

He lauded some countries, such as Italy and Spain, for trying to get their economies in better shape. But ironically, he said, austere budget measures can make things more difficult.

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