Obama uses bridge to urge jobs bill action

Sept. 22, 2011 at 4:30 PM
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CINCINNATI, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- President Obama spoke on a bridge between the home states of the top two congressional Republicans Thursday, urging Congress to pass his jobs bill.

"Behind us stands the Brent Spence Bridge … one of the busiest trucking routes in North America," Obama said on the bridge that joins Ohio, home state of House Speaker John Boehner, and northern Kentucky, home of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "It sees about 150,000 vehicles cross over every day. And it's in such poor condition that it has been labeled functionally obsolete."

Obama used the Brent Spence Bridge, a closed bridge that links Kentucky and Indiana at Louisville and a third in Ironton, Ohio, as examples of infrastructure projects that could be started if Congress passes his American Jobs Act.

"This bill is not that complicated. It's a bill that would put people back to work rebuilding America, repairing our roads, repairing our bridges, repairing our schools," Obama said.

As he has in other speeches touting his jobs plan, Obama urged people to tell Congress to pass the bill so "we can start rebuilding America" and putting people back to work.

"Pass this bill! Pass this bill! Pass this bill!" people chanted as Obama said his bill would benefit workers, the unemployed, small businesses and middle-class taxpayers.

Everything in the bill has enjoyed bipartisan support and is paid for, Obama said.

"So my question to Congress is, what's Congress waiting for? Why is it taking so long?" Obama asked.

To a smattering of boos at the mention of Boehner's and McConnell's names, Obama said, part of the reason he was speaking at the Brent Spence Bridge was because "they can either kill this jobs bill or they can help pass this jobs bills" if they care about their states, business and workers.

"Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge," Obama said. "Help us rebuild America. Help us put construction workers back to work. Pass this bill."

He also spoke of the so-called "Buffett rule," which would create a new millionaires' tax rate for people with taxable incomes of more than $1 million who would pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers. The rule is named after billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who repeatedly has complained the richest Americans generally pay a smaller portion of their income in federal taxes than do middle-income workers because investment gains are taxed at a lower rate than wages.

"All I'm saying is, if you've done well -- I've done well -- then you should do a little something to give something back," Obama said. "You should want to see the company that provided you with this opportunity to be successful and be able to provide opportunity for the young people who are going to be coming up behind you."

To those who say his plan is class warfare, Obama responded:

"You know what? If asking a billionaire to pay their fair share of taxes, to pay the same tax rate as a plumber or a teacher is class warfare, then you know what? I'm a warrior for the middle class," he said.

"It's time to build an economy that creates good middle-class jobs in this country," Obama said. "It's time to build an economy that honors the values of hard work and responsibility. It's time to build an economy that lasts."

Both Boehner and McConnell called Obama's speech at the bridge a political stunt.

"I would suggest, Mr. President, that you think about ways to actually help the people of Kentucky and Ohio, instead of how you can use their roads and bridges as a backdrop for making a political point," McConnell said from the Senate floor. "If you're truly interested in helping our state ... then come back to Washington and work with Republicans on legislation that will actually do something to revive our economy and create jobs. And forget the political theater."

During a media availability, Boehner said, "[Now] is not the time for the president to go into campaign mode. Earlier this week, the White House said that the governing phase is behind them. I think, for the sake of American families and small businesses who are struggling, I certainly hope this isn't so. They've every right to expect us to solve the problems that we could -- have rather than run away from them."

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