Video: Obama: ‘We can’t sit back and squabble’

  1. Closed captioning of: Obama: ‘We can’t sit back and squabble’

    >>> good evening. this is not what you want when you're trying to launch a recovery. today, the bank of america announced a plan to slash 30,000 american jobs and reportedly close a lot of branches in cities and across the countryside all over this country. the plan is designed to make sure bank of america survives and stays healthy, but it's the largest single u.s. lay-off of the year. at the same time, the president was out there again today selling his new jobs plan. he's fighting his own downward numbers and questions about becoming a one-term president. it's what we talked about in our exclusive conversation with the president at the white house at a critical time for him and this country.

    >> occurs to me we are sitting 30 feet from harry truman 's official white house portrait. members of your base are asking when are you going to get your harry truman on?

    >> well, look, harry truman ran against a do-nothing congress. this congress hasn't done much so far, but it still has an opportunity over the next several months to do something that helps the american people . and i want to give them a chance. i'm pleased to see that so far speaker boehner and some of the other republican leadership have said that some of the proposals i put forward deserve serious consideration. and i'm going to be open to any ideas they have in addition to how we are going to grow this economy, but what is not an option is doing nothing.

    >> did you come to a decision that what the country needs is in large part a good old public works bill?

    >> what i came to the conclusion is that given all the headwinds we have been seeing this year -- high gas prices as a result of the arab spring, the tsunami in japan which disrupted supply lines but probably most significantly what's been happening in europe and the turmoil that's taken place there, financial markets that are affecting what businesses are making decisions about here in the united states , that we need a boost. the plan that i put forward -- the american jobs act -- puts construction workers back to work, puts teachers back to work, puts our veterans who are coming home looking for a job back to work, the long-term unemployed back to work. it provides tax breaks for small businesses when they hire new employees. so this package, it's estimated, would help the economy grow by as much as an additional 2%. that could mean an additional 2 million jobs.

    >> all of this, of course, is if you get what you want in a highly toxic atmosphere and it sure looked to me from the outside like you went into the debt ceiling fight thinking, surely they will do the statesman-like thing, surely they won't go there. and it seemed to me as if speaker boehner was coming to you saying, look, if it were up to me, we would do this, but i've got this membership problem.

    >> right.

    >> and they went there. now that marks our politics.

    >> well, there is no doubt that we went to the brink in a way that was unacceptable. we are in an economic crisis and the fact that we made it worse here in washington is inexcusable. we can't sit back and squabble while the country is suffering.

    >> your approval, 44%. on your handling of the economy, 37%. voters now prefer a generic, as-yet-unnamed republican. and most americans now say that you are in something that you can't likely recover from. do you accept those numbers? do you have to wear those?

    >> well, look, you know, one of the things that i learned very early on is not to worry about polls. if i was worrying about polls i wouldn't be sitting here interviewing with you. as i recall when i was running for president, i was down about 30 points around this time in my first run for presidency. you know, the truth of the matter is the american people have gone through the worst economic crisis since the great depression. and they are understandably impatient and i can say to them, look, all the actions we have taken have been the right actions. if we hadn't taken those actions, things would be much worse, but the bottom line is unemployment is still at 9%. and there are still a lot of folks hurting out there. my job as president of the united states is not to worry about my job. my task is to worry about their job and their economic situation.

    >> you see what's out there. you see what's being said about you. what do you say to those americans who voted for that man on the poster that said "hope"?

    >> well, what i would say is that for the last two and a half to three years, we have been working tirelessly and nonstop to deal with the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. ultimately, i'm going to be judged by, you know, whether we have stayed focused on making sure that this economy is moving in the right direction. and like the captain of a ship in a storm, you know, when the ship is rocking and people are getting hurt, they're not going to be happy, no matter how good the captain's doing. now, my hope is that when we are on the other side of it, folks will look back and say, you know, he wasn't a bad captain of the ship. what i tell everybody i meet whether they voted for me or they didn't is this country always gets through these storms. we always right the ship. and we will this time as well.

    >> part of our conversation with the president at the white house . there is more on our website. today, by the way, the administration announced how they plan to pay for his new jobs plan through a series of previously proposed tax hikes that have all been raised by the white house in the past and rejected by republicans.

msnbc.com news services
updated 9/12/2011 12:04:10 PM ET 2011-09-12T16:04:10

President Barack Obama said Monday the jobs bill he is sending to Congress is an insurance policy against the economy falling back into recession.

“There are still a lot of folks hurting out there. And my job as president of the United States is not to worry about my job — my task is to worry about their jobs and their economic situation,” he told NBC’s Brian Williams in an exclusive interview that aired Monday.

Obama’s comments came ahead of a press event in the White House Rose Garden during which he said he will send the $447 billion American Jobs Act to Congress and urged lawmakers to quickly pass it. Teachers, police officers, firefighters and others joined the president to call for passage of the bill.

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“This is a bill that will put people back to work all across the country,” Obama said. “I am sending this bill to Congress today, and they ought to pass it immediately.”

Obama’s comments came amid more downbeat news about the economy. A widely watched survey of business economists shows many are lowering their growth forecasts, also Monday Bank of America said it will be slashing up to 30,000 jobs over the next few years as part of a $5 billion cost-cutting plan aimed at shrinking the struggling mega-bank's unwieldy size.

Story: BofA to cut up to 30,000 jobs, slash $5 billion in costs

Lawmakers will have to carefully examine President Barack Obama's job-creation plan and the final product should include ideas from both parties, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, said Monday.

"It is my hope that we will be able to work together to put in place the best ideas of both parties and help put Americans back to work," Boehner said in a prepared statement.

Lawmakers will have to take a close look at Obama's jobs proposal in light of earlier stimulus efforts, Boehner added. Republicans consider Obama's 2009 plan to be a failure.

The president will also travel across the country to build public support for the package he unveiled last week. He’ll visit the pivotal campaign states of Ohio on Tuesday and North Carolina on Wednesday to ask voters to pressure lawmakers to pass the bill.

The centerpiece of the plan is lower payroll taxes for individuals and businesses. There's also new spending to hire teachers and rebuild schools, among other things.

The Democratic National Committee is launching a television ad campaign to boost support for Obama's new jobs plan. The 30-second ads, which show portions of Obama's speech to Congress last week, will air beginning Monday in politically important states from Nevada to New Hampshire. The ads urge viewers to "Read it. Fight for it. ... Pass the President's Jobs Plan."

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Story: Lawmakers face limits in fight to fix economy

Last December, Congress passed a one-year cut in Social Security taxes, reducing the rate for workers from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent for 2011. Employers still pay the 6.2 percent rate, which is applied to wages up to $106,800.

Obama proposes to extend the tax cut for a year and make it bigger, reducing the Social Security taxes paid by workers to 3.1 percent for 2012. He's also now proposing to extend the payroll tax cut to businesses on the first $5 million of their payroll. About 98 percent of companies have payrolls below the $5 million threshold, according to the White House.

Extending and enlarging the payroll tax cuts costs $240 billion.

Obama urged lawmakers to "pass this jobs plan right away." But he left the responsibility for paying for the $447 billion plan to a special bipartisan House-Senate panel created to reducing deficits by at least $1.2 trillion over the coming decade.

The jobs plan also calls for $130 billion in aid to state and local governments, providing either a welcome infusion of cash for those struggling with budget gaps, government layoffs and crumbling roads or merely a temporary patch for budget holes that are likely to remain long after the federal money runs out.

The perspective of governors and state lawmakers varies but often follows political affiliation, with Democrats generally praising Obama's plan and Republicans remaining skeptical.

Story: Business economists turn pessimistic amid uncertainty

"It's a no-brainer: Congress should pass the bill. Now," said California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, whose state would receive some $13 billion for construction projects and teaching and public safety jobs at a time when it has the nation's second highest unemployment rate.

Many Republican lawmakers and governors are less enthusiastic about accepting the federal money, especially if it locks in costs.

"If we're given the flexibility to spend it as we see fit and not as they see fit, I could see some benefit," particularly for long-delayed infrastructure projects, said Missouri House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan Silvey, a Republican. "I'm not a big fan of using one-time money for ongoing expenses. I think that's what the state should be getting away from, not getting deeper into."

Obama's plan has to clear a politically divided Congress, which could scuttle it entirely or enact bits and pieces of it. As envisioned by Obama, state and local governments would receive $50 billion for transportation projects, $35 billion for school, police and fire department payrolls, $30 billion to modernize public schools and community colleges, and $15 billion to refurbish vacant and foreclosed homes or businesses.

It would mark the second, sizable infusion of federal cash to states in less than three years, coming just as they are burning through the last of the billions of dollars they received under the 2009 stimulus act.

In many cases, states used the original stimulus money to fill in for declining tax revenue and lessen or delay spending cuts for public schools, health care programs and other services. But those budget holes remain in many states as high unemployment persists and government tax revenue remains lackluster.

With another round of money, "the federal government may be able to play a critical role in helping states close their budget gaps," said David Adkins, executive director of the Council of State Governments.

But he said the prospects for receiving the money appear "very, very slim" given the focus on reducing government spending among Republicans in Congress. He said state government leaders are more interested in long-term stable federal funding for transportation projects and education programs.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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