President Obama, continuing his jobs plan sales pitch to Americans across the country, came to a high school in this politically crucial state on Tuesday to urge Congress to pass the jobs bill, which includes $25 billion in funding to upgrade schools.
Appearing revved up and in campaign form, Mr. Obama said his jobs plan could achieve the double accomplishment of putting construction workers back to work even as it modernizes American schools. He made his remarks at the Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School, which has recently benefited from federal financing to renovate.
?There are construction projects like this all over the country just waiting to get started,? Mr. Obama said. ?So my question to Congress is, ?What on earth are you waiting for?? ?
A crowd of about 3,200 people gathered outside on the school field made the event seem like a campaign rally of sorts. They chanted: ?Pass this bill! Pass this bill! Pass this bill!?
In coming to this school in Columbus, Mr. Obama sought to promote the $25 billion in modernization funds for schools that is a part of the $447 billion jobs bill he sent to Congress on Monday night. White House officials said the $25 billion, if approved by lawmakers, would modernize at least 35,000 public schools. The investment would make rural schools a priority, as well as schools financed through the Bureau of Indian Education. The money, White House officials said, could be used for a number of things from emergency repair and renovation projects to technology upgrading.
But Republicans were continuing to dump cold water on the president?s proposals, which along with spending on infrastructure include steep reductions in payroll taxes next year, paid for by limiting the deductions that can be claimed by wealthier taxpayers.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, went to the Senate floor to complain that most of the proposals have been rejected before, and that a short-term economic fillip followed by long-term tax hikes could not succeed this time around, either.
?That?s basically all he?s proposing here: temporary stimulus to be paid for later by permanent tax hikes, so that when the dust clears, and the economy is no better off than it was after the first stimulus, folks find themselves with an even bigger tax bill than today,? Mr. McConnell said.
The stimulus spending in the bill, and not just its tax provisions, have also raised questions among some.