Obama urges GOP to drop opposition to jobs bill

By William Branigin
Monday, August 30, 2010; 4:13 PM

President Obama urged congressional Republicans on Monday to drop their opposition to a jobs bill that he said is desperately needed to spur hiring but has been blocked because of "pure partisan politics."

In a previously unscheduled appearance in the White House Rose Garden, Obama told reporters that although it has been nearly two years since the U.S. economy "teetered on the brink of collapse," the recovery remains incomplete.

"The fact is that too many businesses are still struggling, too many Americans are still looking for work, and too many communities are far from being whole again," Obama said. He spoke after participating in his economic daily briefing.

As Congress returns from its August recess, Obama said, its first order of business should be to approve a jobs bill that he said would make it easier for small businesses to hire and grow. He said the bill would provide additional tax cuts and make more loans available.

"Unfortunately, this bill has been languishing in the Senate for months, held up by a partisan minority that won't even allow it to go to a vote," Obama said. "That makes no sense."

He added: "This bill is fully paid for. It will not add to the deficit. And there is no reason to block it besides pure partisan politics."

Declaring that "holding this bill hostage is directly detrimental to our economic growth," Obama called on Senate Republicans to "drop the blockade."

Obama said his economic team is busy "identifying additional measures that could make a difference in both promoting growth and hiring in the short term and increasing our economy's competitiveness in the long term." He said those steps include extending tax cuts for the middle class that are set to expire this year, increasing investment in clean energy and further reducing taxes for businesses.

Obama said he would provide more detail on the proposals in the days and weeks ahead.

The White House later announced that Obama would travel to Milwaukee next Monday - on Labor Day - to deliver a speech on the economy.

The pending jobs bill would help businesses get credit and eliminate capital gains taxes on key investments," Obama said in his Rose Garden remarks. He said the bill would "accelerate $55 billion of tax relief to encourage American businesses, small and large, to expand their investments over the next 14 months."

Small-business owners and the communities that depend on them "don't have time for political games" and "shouldn't have to wait any longer" for the jobs bill, he said.

Earlier Monday, the Commerce Department reported that consumer spending rose 0.4 percent in July, the fastest pace in four months. But there was concern that demand could drop in the second half of the year if unemployment remains near its current rate of 9.5 percent.

Staff writer Anne E. Kornblut contributed to this report.

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