"If Congress decides they aren't going to doing [sic] anything about all this because it's an election year, then they should explain why," Obama said. Although Congress already passed his proposal to extend the payroll tax cut into 2012, it hasn't yet taken action on providing aid to state and local governments to put teachers, cops and firefighters back on the job. It also hasn't moved forward on funding for infrastructure projects like rebuilding roads, bridges and airports that would put construction workers back to work.
"There's nothing fiscally responsible about waiting to fix your roof until it caves in," Obama said. "Let's make long term spending cuts...let's reduce our health care spending, let's make sure we have a pathway, a glide path to fiscal responsibility, but at the same time let's not underinvest in the things that we need to grow."
Obama made the case that state and local government layoffs have been a major drag on economic growth.
"We've created 4.3 million jobs over the past 27 months. The private sector is doing fine. Where we're seeing problems is with state and local government. Often with cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help they're accustomed to from the federal government.House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will respond to President Obama with a 12:30 ET press conference of their own. Along with Mitt Romney and other Republicans, they will no doubt take Obama's "the private sector is fine" remark out of context, but what he meant is that while the private sector has been growing, public sector layoffs continue—a fact that Mitt Romney has repeatedly lied about. Obama wasn't saying that he's satisfied with where the private sector is, he's saying that the private sector is moving in the right direction, and that growth would be accelerated without so many public sector job losses. Romney, on the other hand, argues that firing public sector workers creates private sector jobs—an absurd point of view.
"If Republicans want to be helpful... what they should be thinking about is how do we help state and local governments."