The president used Abraham Lincoln High as an example of the kind of school that can be helped by construction aid in the bill, which includes $75.5 million for the Denver County School District. The aid, he said, would serve two purposes, providing jobs for Denver-area construction workers while giving students better facilities.
"Now, this is a fast-growing school in one of the fastest-growing school districts in Colorado. And you guys have been adding new AP courses, and language courses, and doing your best to make sure your kids have the upgraded computers and learning software necessary to prepare them for the jobs and economy of the future," Obama said. "But things like science labs, for example, take money to upgrade, and the ones here at Lincoln High were built decades ago, back in the 1960s."
Obama urged Congress to pass the bill quickly. It includes tax increases for the richest in the United States with some middle-class tax breaks and credits for businesses that add jobs along with $25 billion to repair and modernize public schools and $5 billion for community colleges with other federal aid allocated to road and bridge repair.
Everything in the American Jobs Act is the kind of proposal that's been supported by Democrats and Republicans before," Obama said. "Everything in it will be paid for. It's been two weeks since I sent it to Congress, and now I want it back."
Obama also pushed the bill in an interview Monday night on the BET network, saying the bill would make an immediate difference in the economy.
"It's estimated that that would grow the economy by an extra 2 percent, put 1.9 million people back to work," he said. "Those aren't our estimates. Those are independent estimates. So that could make a difference."
But he bristled when asked about criticism he failed to address black poverty and unemployment.
Newscaster Emmett Miller spoke of a hypothetical young African-American in Chicago's South Side, whose father was gone and whose mother worked 10 hours a day for "peanuts."
There are no jobs and, "You won't even say, 'Look, I am going to help you,'" Miller said.
"Emmett, that is not -- first of all, that is not what people are saying," Obama said. "What people are saying all across the country is we are hurting and we've been hurting for a long time. And the question is how can we make sure the economy is working for every single person."