Obama’s New Mantra: Senators Must 'Explain to Me' Why They Would Be Against My Jobs Bill

By Susan Jones | October 6, 2011 | 12:09pm EDT

President Barack Obama gestures during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(CNSNews.com) –  Any senator who’s thinking about voting against President Obama’s  jobs bill when it comes up for a vote in the Senate next week “needs to explain exactly why they would oppose something that we know would improve our economic situation at such an urgent time for our families and our businesses,” President Obama said Thursday.

At a White House news conference, Obama also said he expects and hopes that “everybody” in Congress will vote for his bill because it includes ideas that both parties traditionally have supported.

Obama pointed to tax cuts for the middle class but said nothing about the proposed “millionaire’s tax” that Senate Democrats would impose to pay for the measure.

“If it turns out that there are Republicans who are opposed to this bill, they need to explain to me -- but more importantly, to their constituents and the American people -- why they're opposed and what would they do?"

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Obama said if Republicans have a plan with “a similar impact,” he’d be “happy to hear it.” But -- “But I haven’t heard them offer alternatives that would have that same kind of impact, and that's what we need right now."

Obama said tax breaks for small businesses included in his bill should spur those businesses to hire. (Some economists say businesses hire because of demand, not tax breaks.) 

The president also said his jobs bill would use taxpayer funds to put laid-off teachers, firefighters and police officers back to work.  And rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure would employ more construction workers, he added.

The Congressional Budget Office, in a preliminary estimate, said that in total, Obama’s jobs bill “would increase direct spending by about $175 billion over the 2012-2021 period.” Most of that spending would happen over the next five years.

The president said it's not enough for Republicans to go along with free trade agreements. He called again for a vote on his ideas -- "because I believe that it's very hard to argue against them."

If Sen. Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans don't go along with Obama’s jobs package in its entirety, Obama promised to "keep on going, and we will put forward, maybe piece by piece, each component of the bill, and each time they're going to have to explain why it is that they'd be opposed to putting teachers back in the classroom, or rebuilding our schools, or giving tax cuts to middle class folks and giving tax cuts to small businesses.”

Republicans say the best way to spur job growth is to reduce federal regulations and red tape as well as tax burdens on job-creators.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday praised the House for passing bipartisan legislation eliminating excessive government regulations that threaten thousands of American jobs.

“As this bill shows, we can find common ground when it comes to removing obstacles to job growth,” Boehner said.

“With millions out of work and our economy still on the ropes, it’s time for the Senate to stop stalling on House-passed jobs bills. Senate Democrats should bring this bipartisan legislation to an immediate vote and President Obama should sign it into law as quickly as possible.”

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