President Obama says if Republicans want him to stop campaigning against a do-nothing Congress, they should do something, like pass his jobs plan. In a White House press conference that lasted an hour and 12 minutes Thursday, Obama said "there is no doubt the economy is weaker now than it was at the beginning of the year," but the American Jobs Act would act like an "insurance policy against a double-dip recession." He said the Senate would vote on the proposal next week — and he's "fine" with Senate Democrats' idea to pay for it with a 5 percent surcharge on millionaires. The president challenged Republican senators not to vote for the package: "Any senator out there who's thinking about voting against this jobs bill when it comes up for a vote needs to explain exactly why they would oppose something we know would improve our economic situation at such an urgent time." Obama promised voters would run them out of office if they don't do something.
CNN's Brianna Keilar and Kate Bolduan report that Obama's "top advisers have said they aim to present a unified Democratic front on jobs." The Senate will vote on his original jobs package today, NBC News' Libby Leist reports. The surcharge proposal will be voted on next week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid aggreed to let Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, tack on an amendment taking on China for "manipulating" its currency, which the White House has opposed.
The New York Post's Celeste Katz says Obama is trying to show liberals that he's tough on Republicans. The president acknowledged the activists of Occupy Wall Street, now in their third week of protests in Manhattan. Obama said they were "giving voice to a more broad-based frustration with how our financial system works." He continued, "These days a lot of folks that are doing the right thing aren’t rewarded, and a lot of folks who aren’t doing the right thing are rewarded." And "some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly" are now trying to prevent reforms to the financial system. But even if Obama is paying attention to the protest, he's not feeling their energy. National Journal's Matthew Cooper said the press conference "felt more like a sigh than a rallying cry." Obama knows his bill won't pass, Cooper says, "So the really fierce urgency is about setting up a contrast with the Republican Party, which Obama has been eager to portray as obstructionist — and the GOP has given him plenty of reason to say so. 'Are people feeling cynical about the prospects for positive action in this city? Absolutely.'"