President Barack Obama is criticizing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for saying the president's $447 billion jobs bill will not get a vote in its entirety in the Republican-led House.
"I'd like Mr. Cantor to come down here to Dallas and explain what in this jobs bill he doesn't believe in," Obama said in remarks prepared for delivery Tuesday at a Texas community college.
Cantor, R-Va., said Monday that while the president's plan contained elements that Republicans could support, "this all-or-nothing approach is unreasonable."
Obama is stepping up the campaign for his jobs bills, sharpening his strategy to blame Republican lawmakers if the bill, or at least significant portions of it, doesn't pass by year's end. He spoke last month in front of a bridge linking Ohio and Kentucky, the home states of House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Three weeks after Obama sent the legislation to Congress, the proposal has run into resistance from Republicans and even some Democrats.
Ahead of his speech at Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas, Obama asked donors at a fundraising lunch in Dallas for their support pressuring Republicans to act, complaining that "even in the midst of this crisis, their primary answer has been `no."'
Obama also defended his plan to pay for his jobs bill with higher taxes opposed by Republicans along with some Democrats.
"This notion that folks are inherently selfish, that's just not true. But you've got ask them," he said. "Right? People don't voluntarily pay taxes. But if you ask most wealthy folks here in Dallas or around the country, they'll tell you, `You know what? I want to make that sure I'm doing my share so America succeeds.' But somebody's got to ask."
Republicans have identified parts of Obama's jobs plan they could support, including a payroll tax cut for workers and employers. In a letter to GOP lawmakers, they also listed other forms of tax relief they could endorse.
House GOP leaders wrote Obama on Monday to say they were willing to look for common ground and called on the president to support their efforts to ease regulations on businesses.
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters traveling with Obama on Monday that Republicans should specify what they oppose in the bill.
"Say so. Vote accordingly," Carney said. "But don't hide behind letters you've sent to the president. Tell us where you stand."
Cantor's spokesman, Brad Dayspring, disputed Obama's argument.
"If House Republicans sent our plan for America's job creators to the president, would he promise not to veto it in its entirety? Would he travel district to district and explain why he'd block such commonsense ideas to create jobs?" Dayspring asked. "House Republicans have different ideas on how to grow the economy and create jobs, but that shouldn't prevent us from trying to find areas of common ground with the president."
Obama has become increasingly forceful in singling out Republican opposition.
Several of the president's trips have taken him directly into the backyards of his Republican rivals, including a recent speech in Richmond, Va., part of Cantor's district
Obama's visit to a Dallas suburb Tuesday brought him to the district of Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Republican co-chairman of the special congressional committee on deficit reduction, as well as to the home state of Gov. Rick Perry, a top GOP presidential candidate.
Obama wants to reduce payroll taxes on workers and employers, extend benefits to long-term unemployed people, spend money on public works projects, and help states and local governments keep teachers, police officers and firefighters on the job. He would pay for the plan with tax increases on wealthier Americans and by closing what he considers corporate tax loopholes.
With Congress willing to consider only pieces of the administration's bill, the White House is making a concerted effort to highlight the individual components of the president's measure, not just sell it as a full package.
Education was the focus in Texas. The White House says the measure would prevent the layoff of up to 280,000 teachers across the country while also allowing states to hire back tens of thousands more. The administration also says new spending would go toward modernizing at least 35,000 public schools and community colleges.
After two fundraising lunches in Dallas, Obama planned to attend a fundraising reception and dinner in St. Louis. Ticket prices for the events ranged from $250 to the legal maximum of $35,800, and together they were taking in a rough minimum of nearly $2 million for the Obama Victory Fund, a joint account of the Democratic Campaign Committee and the president's re-election campaign.
A Republican-aligned group planned to follow Obama's travels with critical ads in cities where the president pitches his jobs plan. The group, American Crossroads, began with ads in St. Louis attacking Obama's plan to raise tax revenue to pay for his jobs plan.
President Barack Obama touched down at Dallas Love Field Tuesday, a little more than an hour before his scheduled address at Eastfield College.
Eastfield Students Wait For Tickets
Students waited in line for hours on Monday to snag limited tickets to hear the president's speech -- which was available only about 600 Eastfield students, staff and faculty.
Eastfield student Rachel Cosby said Tuesday that she wanted to know how the president was going to put the jobs plan into motion.
“I want him to tell us how he’s sure we’re going to have jobs after college," she said. “I don’t want to go to college, waste my money, waste my time and there’s nothing there for me.”
Hundreds of students, a child named Barack and others came out to the college in hopes of catching a glimpse of the president.
After the speech, some students who are unemployed said they felt reassured by Obama's plan.
On Monday, Dallas Community College District Chancellor Wright Lassiter said Obama has been focusing on community colleges as a way to boost the economy.
"He identified the community college as a venue to serves as, one, the economic engine for the revival of the workforce and two, we represent what we would call the quick change artist -- we can start programs quickly, and we can move programs quickly," said Lassiter.
Obama has been visiting districts of Republican leaders and those serving on the joint committee on the deficit reduction, such as Rep. Jeb Hensarling.
Hensarling released this statement ahead of Obama's visit:
"The president is always welcome in Texas, and I am particularly glad he has chosen to visit Eastfield College in my district — one of Texas’ great community colleges. I hope he will spend some time listening to the job creators of the 5th district and studying how Texans have created an environment for job growth — through low taxes, smart and reasonable regulation, and a balanced budget — and apply these principles to anything he asks Congress to consider."
Students who waited in line Monday for tickets said they hoped the president's plan will have a positive impact on their future.
"Even in high school, they told us there are thousands of jobs we are being trained for that aren't going to be there when we graduate," said Robyn Foster. "I hope that when I do get my bachelor's and master's, there will be some place I can work and not work minimum wage until I find my career."
Other students jumped at a chance to hear the country's leader speak.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I never know when I'll get this chance again," said student Jose Rayes.