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Published: Tuesday, 9/13/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Obama pushes job creation plan on visit to Columbus

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF
President Barack Obama, right, shakes hands with Trey Davis, 2, as he greets guest on the tarmac during his arrival at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, Sept., 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) President Barack Obama, right, shakes hands with Trey Davis, 2, as he greets guest on the tarmac during his arrival at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, Sept., 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

COLUMBUS -- President Obama on Tuesday, accused some congressional Republicans of being willing to stand in the way of jump-starting the nation's stalled economy if it means denying him a political win.

"That's the kind of games-playing we've gotten used to in Washington. Think about that. They supported this stuff in the past, but they're thinking maybe they don't do it this time because Obama is promoting it," the President said.

"Give me a win? This isn't about giving me a win," he said.

"This isn't about giving Democrats or Republicans a win. It's about giving the American people a win. It's about giving Ohio a win."

Standing in a state considered a must-win for him in 2012, Mr. Obama urged congressional Republicans to put aside that election -- at least for now.

"The next election is 14 months away, and the American people don't have the luxury of waiting that long,'' he said.

"You've got folks who are living week to week, paycheck to paycheck. They need action, and they need it now," he said.

The President used the Civil War-era Fort Hayes school campus within Columbus City Schools as a backdrop to pressure Congress to pass his $447 billion package of tax cuts and new spending that he hopes will move a national economic recovery stuck in idle.

His remarks were aimed at more than Columbus. Mr. Obama used his 16-minute speech in the home state of House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) to urge those attending and listening to call their congressmen and demand they support the bill.

Passage is far from assured given the partisan rancor exhibited during the summer debt-ceiling debate and Mr. Obama's decision to again try to roll back tax breaks for wealthier Americans to help pay for the plan.

He also leaves it to a new congressional super-committee already charged with finding $1.2 trillion in budget cuts to find more cuts to help offset the plan's price tag.

"We've got to make sure that everybody pays their fair share, including the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations," Mr. Obama said.

"After all, we've got to decide what our priorities are. Do you want to keep tax loopholes for oil companies, or do you want to renovate more schools like Fort Hayes so that construction workers have jobs again?''

Mr. Obama toured a Fort Hayes basement classroom to promote portions of his jobs package that would provide $25 billion to renovate schools nationwide and $35 billion to help school districts and local governments keep teachers, police, and firefighters on the job.

The school renovation portion promises $985.5 million for Ohio to support an estimated 12,800 jobs.

The layoff prevention package holds nearly $1.1 billion for Ohio to preserve an estimated14,200 education and public safety jobs.

While extension and expansion of payroll tax breaks for individuals and businesses have found favor with some Republicans, they've otherwise largely dismissed the spending side of his package.

"It's a combination of old ideas -- more taxes, more spending, more deficit from here to the high heavens,'' Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine noted that Columbus seems to be Mr. Obama's go-to place when it comes to stimulus proposals.

The President visited the city after his first nearly $800 million stimulus package passed in 2009 to attend a graduation class of city police officers who otherwise would not have had jobs.

Last year, he visited a local road project in the city partly financed with stimulus infrastructure dollars.

"In Ohio, the failure of the first stimulus couldn't be more apparent," Mr. DeWine said. "We have more than 528,000 Ohioans who are out of work, families who are struggling, people who are looking for some sign of hope. … President Obama … has a very steep hill to climb here when it comes to regaining his credibility.''

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) Tuesday announced a school modernization bill that closely mirrors elements of the President's jobs bill.

Mr. Brown's legislation would provide funding for renovation and repair work for schools, claiming that schools nationwide have $270 billion in deferred school maintenance and repair backlogs. He said the bill would help to modernize schools while providing badly needed construction jobs.

"The schools need fixing," he said. "The workers need work."

Of Ohio's nearly $1.1 billion share of the school repair and renovation funding, Toledo Public Schools is slated to receive about $54 million.

In addition to the school renovation and local budget aid, Ohio's share of Mr. Obama's proposed new spending would include:

$1.1 billion to support 13,700 jobs related to highway, transit, airport, and other infrastructure improvements.

$577 million to help local communities rehabilitate vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses across the nation in hopes of supporting local construction jobs.

$148.3 million to upgrade facilities and equipment at community colleges.

The proposed renewal and expansion of the payroll tax cut is expected to amount to $1,430 a year in the paychecks of a typical Ohio household earning $46,000 a year. Some 200,000 Ohio firms are expected to benefit from the business side of the cuts.

Staff writer Nolan Rosenkrans contributed to this report.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.



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