EMPORIA, Va. — President Barack Obama on Tuesday accused his Republican critics of trying to pull one over on voters by claiming that his bid to boost jobs will raise their taxes.
"Don't be bamboozled," Obama told a boisterous crowd at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, N.C., noting that he caught an anti-jobs act ad on TV Monday night while watching a football game. "Don't fall for this notion that somehow the jobs act is proposing to raise your taxes. It's just not true.
"I want to be clear. The vast majority of Americans would see a tax cut under this jobs bill," he said.
His admonition came on the second day of a three-day bus trip across the presidential election swing states of North Carolina and Virginia. The trip is intended to boost popular support for Obama's $447 billion jobs package, which is stalled in Congress, and to position the president in the public mind as trying his best to address the nation's faltering economy.
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Obama said he's not giving up and will ask members of Congress to pass the bill piece by piece, since even the Democratic-led Senate fell short last week of rallying enough votes to advance it. Republican leaders of the House of Representatives have said that major portions of the bill are dead on arrival there.
"You've got to get on the phone or pay them a visit or write them a letter or tweet, and remind them to do the right thing," he said in the Guilford school's gymnasium. "Remind them that 'No, we can't is no way to face tough times. ... Now is the time to act, now is the time to say, 'Yes, we can."
Republicans have derided the trip as a campaign gambit for a president who faces significant headwinds in his re-election effort.
The White House says it's an opportunity for the president to get beyond the Washington beltway and talk to Americans about their economic worries.
But his reference to "Yes, we can," the signature slogan of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, wasn't the only echo of a presidential campaign as Obama's high-tech bus — the president said it had been "decked out pretty good" — careened past Piggly Wiggly grocery stores and mom-and-pop barbeque shacks.
The crowd in Jamestown, N.C., chanted another 2008 campaign mantra: "Fired up! Ready to go," as they restlessly waited for Obama to appear.
And the president, casual in a blue-checkered shirt with no tie, worked the lunch crowd at Reid's House Restaurant in Reidsville, N.C., asking one man whether he'd eaten all his vegetables before tucking into desert.
He also chatted with an elderly couple — marveling at their 59 years of marriage — and opted for a cheeseburger, fries and a sweet tea, forgoing any of the homemade pies offered on the dry erase board above the counter.
His bus has taken him through Republican strongholds. Obama said it's because his plan should be seen as helping the country's problems — not his.
"I'm not the Democratic president or Republican president," he said to loud applause at Greensville County High School in Emporia, Va., in late afternoon. "I'm the president. I'm everybody's president."
Republicans have offered a plan of their own — the "real American Jobs Act" to counter Obama's "American Jobs Act." At one point, he mocked the GOP version.
"They don't get points for originality," Obama said to laughter.
Republicans want to roll back regulations they say are smothering businesses, as well as to expand tax cuts.
Obama said the plan would result in "dirtier water and dirtier air" and a return "to the good old days before the financial crisis, when Wall Street wrote its own rules," he said to a round of boos.
Obama met with a small group of teachers and pointed out that his plan includes $30 billion to help cities and towns keep teachers in the classroom and stem a tide of teacher layoffs. He warned that without the money the U.S. could fall behind its competitors. The aid to teachers is scheduled to be the first section of his plan the Senate takes up separately.
At one point he noted that a North Carolina teacher told him: "We didn't cause the poor economy. If anything, we built the good parts."
In Skipwith, Va., he visited Bluestone High School, where he toured the school's computer lab and robotics workshop. Under his proposed jobs plan, $3.5 million would go to that area's Mecklenburg County public schools for teacher jobs, plus $1.3 million for K-12 modernization. The county also could compete for a share of some $212 million more that Virginia would distribute based on need, the White House said.
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