WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) -- U.S. President Obama hammered Congress for what he said was a failure to act to help the American economy.
Obama said there has been some economic progress during the last few months.
"Businesses have created about 3.7 million new jobs over the last two years, manufacturers are hiring for the first time since the 1990s. The auto industry's back and hiring more than 200,000 people over the last few years. Confidence is up and the economy's getting stronger.
"But there are still millions of Americans who can't find a job. There are millions more who are having a tough time making the rent or the mortgage, paying for gas or groceries."
Obama said "our job in Washington isn't to sit back and do nothing, and it's certainly not to stand in the way of the recovery. Right now we've got to do everything we can to speed it up. ... Congress did the right thing when they passed part of my jobs plan and prevented a tax hike on 160 million working Americans this year, and that was a good first step. But it's not enough. They can't just stop there and wait for the next election to come around."
The president said Congress should "end tax breaks for companies that are shipping jobs overseas and use that money to reward companies that are creating jobs here in the United States. I've put forward a proposal that does that, and there's no reason why Congress can't come together and start acting on it."
Congress should also vote to raise taxes on the most wealthy "so that we don't have billionaires paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. ... If we're serious about paying down our deficit, it's as good a place to start as any."
He said Congress also "should pass my proposal to give every responsible homeowner a chance to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage at historically low rates."
Obama said "if Congress refuses to act ... I'll continue to do everything in my power to act without them."