Local Politics

Obama presses jobs plan, derides GOP ideas in NC visits

Posted October 16, 2011
Updated December 12, 2011

— After spending Monday in the Blue Ridge Mountains, President Barack Obama will conclude the North Carolina portion of his three-day bus tour Tuesday morning with a speech at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown. 

Obama pushes jobs plan at GTCC Obama pushes jobs plan at GTCC

On his two stops Monday, Obama combined campaign politics with economic policy. 

In speeches in Asheville and the tiny Wilkes County town of Millers Creek, the president called for public support of his American Jobs Act while dismissing an alternative proposal offered by Republicans in Congress.

After his $447 billion jobs plan failed in the Senate last week, Obama said he wants to present the plan piecemeal to Congress in hopes of getting portions approved.

"I guess maybe they just didn't understand the whole thing, so we're breaking it up into pieces," the president told a couple thousand cheering supporters at Asheville Regional Airport. "If they vote against taking steps that we know will put Americans back to work right now – right now – then they're not going to have to answer to me, they're going to have to answer to you."

Airport officials said they want to upgrade the runways in Asheville but don't have the money for the project. Obama said $50 billion he earmarked in the jobs legislation for infrastructure improvements would fund such efforts.

"All across the state, you've got highways that need to be built. You've got bridges that need to be fixed. You've got schools that need to be modernized," he said. "That's what Americans used to do best. We used to build things."

The president urged residents to pressure Congress to act on the legislation and not delay addressing the economy until after the 2012 elections. He found a sympathetic audience in Asheville.

"I'd like to see a little more cooperation in the Congress from the Republicans, and I'd like to see him have a little more backbone and stand up to them," Jeannine Diner said.

Obama pushes jobs plan at GTCC Obama pushes jobs plan at GTCC

"(The legislation is) an opportunity for us to open up and do something about the jobs here in western North Carolina and across the country. People are hurting," David Jones said.

Obama's second stop in Wilkes County was designed to highlight a second piece of his jobs bill – $35 billion to local governments to hire teachers, police officers, firefighters and first responders.

Wilkes County Schools Superintendent Stephen Laws said the struggling economy has forced the district to cut its payroll by 120 over the past four years. The federal stimulus efforts backed by the Obama administration prevented more cutbacks in the district, he said.

"We need this jobs bill to help bridge the shortfall in funding from state and local governments, which are either fiscally unable or philosophically unwilling to educate children," Laws said in introducing Obama.

On its way to the high school, the presidential motorcade passed people holding signs like "No more massive government spending programs. They don't work" and "Lame Duck."

The president said he had no qualms about going into staunchly Republican territory – less than a third of Wilkes County voters backed Obama in the 2008 election – to promote his plan.

"This is the American Jobs Act. It's not the Democratic Jobs Act," he said to cheers in a packed, steamy school gymnasium at West Wilkes High School.

Yet, Obama outlined the differences between his proposal and one congressional Republicans have called the Real American Jobs Act.

The Republican plan, he said, would gut federal environmental regulations, roll back financial reforms implemented after the 2008 market collapse and repeal the national health care reform law.

"It's inspiring stuff," he said sarcastically, noting that independent economists have said that the proposal could cost U.S. jobs.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus NC is battleground state for 2012 presidential election

"We've got to build an economy that works for everybody, not just for some people, not just for the folks at the top," he said.

Many people said they came out to hear the president's plan for getting the economy back on track. Wilkes County has a 12.1 percent unemployment rate, among the highest in North Carolina.

"If you're out of a job, you can't find one because there's not any to be found. So, we're glad he's here," Leonard Harris said.

"I think that he's got some good things to offer. Hopefully, everybody will be objective to what he has to say," Sheila Dodson said.

"We support him either way. At the end of the day, he's part of our country, and that's what we do," Pooja Deva said.

Despite the president's call for urgency, it could be November at the earliest before lawmakers take up the proposals in the bill, due to debate scheduled this week on appropriations bills and a planned vacation at the end of this month.

North Carolina Republican leaders called Obama's visit a hollow presidential campaign trip to a battleground state and his jobs plan another failed stimulus.

"His time and taxpayer dollars would have been better spent if he had just stayed in (Washington) D.C., trying to pass a jobs bill that would actually work," state Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes said in a statement.

In a tongue in cheek move, the state GOP announced "Tow-Bama," a tow truck they said could haul the president's taxpayer-funded bus back to Washington.

The bus, dubbed Ground Force One, stopped in Marion for lunch, and Obama picked up a plate of barbecue and a sweet tea at Countryside Barbecue, where he chatted with diners about the economy and other issues.

The motorcade later stopped in Boone, where the president grabbed some candy at Mast General Store and talked with some Appalachian State University students.

Since announcing his plan for putting Americans back to work last month, Obama has been traveling the country trying to build public support for his initiatives. The president's itinerary has focused heavily on swing states, underscoring the degree to which what happens with his job bill is linked to his re-election prospects.

The White House insists the president is focused more on the economy than elections, with the nation's unemployment rate stuck at 9.1 percent.

John Davis, a longtime political analyst in North Carolina, said Obama will have a much harder time holding North Carolina in the next election cycle.

"This time, I think Obama loses the advantage of a surprise like he pulled off in 2008," he said.

Obama spent the night Monday in Greensboro and will head north through Virginia -- another battleground state that he must carry if he wants to win re-election next year -- Tuesday following his speech at GTCC in Jamestown. 

A Quinnipiac University poll out earlier this month put Obama's approval rating in Virginia at 45 percent, with 52 percent disapproving. The same poll showed 83 percent of Virginians were dissatisfied with the direction of the country. In North Carolina, Obama has a 42 percent approval rating, according to an Elon University poll conducted this month. Most national polls put Obama's approval rating in the mid- to low-forties.


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  • MrPearce Oct 18, 2011

    haggis basher:

    You always have an excuse or reason that the rich are rich.

    If a man works hard, and becomes rich, and then gives that to his children, who are you to say anything about it? He earned it, it is his. And by that fact, he can make it his offspring's either by death or gift.

    Because he gifts it, you now think it's fair game for the public?

    Are you no more than a common thief????

  • haggis basher Oct 18, 2011

    "I wish people would study up on economics before assuming so much they hear and not what they have learned..."

    I've got a Masters that included Economics.......you?

    "This bill is just another gimmick to get oodles of money from the public while a certain "few" handpicked by this administration reap the rewards."

    Nice sound bite....but we notice the absolute lack of actual facts.

  • haggis basher Oct 18, 2011

    "If Buffett really thinks that, he is welcome to pay as much additional to the government as he wishes, and it is even deductible. Have you seen him writing a check? Guess it is just another liberal talking point with no substance."

    Yep, you greedy folks would love that.

  • haggis basher Oct 18, 2011

    "I stand by my comment. He is rich and does not support poor people."

    So now I'm rich? but didn't you say I was on Welfare a minute ago???

    make up your mind.

  • haggis basher Oct 18, 2011

    "he spent wildly"

    You would rather had a total collapse of the US aand world econiomies a Depression? Weird!

    "and made HIGHLY unpopular socialistic changes."

    Really? What? forcing people to buy health insurance and be self reliant rather than just depending on the State when they get sick.....thats Socialistic????? What are you smoking?

  • Follow_The_Money27617 Oct 18, 2011

    "I have and I support Him because he is right on this issue."

    Note, Haggis does not have a job - he is on the government dole.
    October 18, 2011 2:38 p.m.

    When all else fails just claim they are on welfare. LOL poor poor people. Seek help. Your brain needs a handout.

  • Follow_The_Money27617 Oct 18, 2011

    How many on this site have a job? Some sign on at 8am every morning and post all day. How many support Obama because of his welfare and entitlement programs? Just asking.
    October 18, 2011 12:50 p.m.
    Report abuse

    Im at work. I get here at 8. Leave at 5. You love welfare. You supported TARP and are currently supporting a candidate that supported TARP. Please go away. Obamas welfare is as bad as the welfare you love. Poor hypocrite.

    RON PAUL 2012! (please link your guys "plan" or dont respond) crickets

  • haggis basher Oct 18, 2011

    "But the original point is that to compare her "income tax rate" with her boss' "capital gains tax rate" is disingenuous at best, deceitful at worst. And to suggest that Warren Buffet didn't lift a finger to earn his wealth is just silly."

    Indeed comparing income tax (the subject at hand) with Capital gains is just silly. That Mr Buffet also earns extra money from Capital gains is irrelevant as its only an appreciable option for the fortunate few. He may be able to make a good living from capital gains but that is not an option most people have. He was talking about INCOME tax, and the TAX he and his Secretary pay on THAT income.

  • ladyblue Oct 18, 2011

    "The whole point of pushing the bill through now was so that the Republicants could stop it once again and show the people that they could care less about creating jobs for anyone," bigal02282

    I wish people would study up on economics before assuming so much they hear and not what they have learned...

    This bill is just another gimmick to get oodles of money from the public while a certain "few" handpicked by this administration reap the rewards. Wake up ans smell the coffee here as it's getting a little stale now....

  • TheAdmiral Oct 18, 2011

    "Note, Haggis does not have a job - he is on the government dole."

    I stand by my comment. He is rich and does not support poor people.