By Justin Sink - 10/06/11 04:30 PM EDT
President Obama urged the Senate to pass his jobs act in a press conference Thursday, warning those who oppose his plan that "this is not a game" and telling senators they will have to explain to voters their opposition to the bill.
The president said that "there is no doubt that growth has slowed" and called out congressional Republicans for playing "games" with the economy.
"As we look towards next week, any senator out there who would vote against this jobs act needs to explain why they're voting against something that will help," Obama said.
"I have gone out of my way in every instance, sometimes at my own political peril … to work with Republicans to find common ground," Obama said. "It's now up to all the senators and hopefully all the members of the House to explain why they would be opposed to common-sense solutions … why would you be opposed to tax cuts for small businesses and American workers."
The president did say he would be open to a proposal by Senate Democrats that would pay for the bill through a 5.6 percent surtax on millionaires, rather than the plan he put forth that would institute increased taxes on families making more than $250,000 annually and close oil-and-gas tax loopholes if the debt supercommittee was unable to find savings offsets.
"We've always said we'd be open to a variety of ways to pay for it," Obama said. "The approach the Senate is taking I'm comfortable with."
Obama also disputed the notion that he had lost a persuasive ability to rally the American people behind his jobs plan.
"There has been some skepticism that I personally can persuade Republicans ... that's exactly why I need the American people," Obama said. "Oftentimes, ideas, even if they used to be supported by Republicans, if I propose them, they're against them."
The president also touched on the Occupy Wall Street protests that originated in Lower Manhattan, saying the movement "expresses the frustrations that the American people feel."
"I think people are frustrated, and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works," Obama said.
But, the president said "we have to have a strong, effective financial sector for our economy to work." He also said the administration hasn't been more aggressive in prosecuting those on Wall Street involved in the financial crisis because there actions weren't necessarily illegal, but immoral.
He also blasted banks for imposing new fees on customers after financial regulations designed to reduce hidden fees were implemented.
"They have that right, but it's not a good practice. it's not necessarily fair to consumers," Obama said. "People have been using financial regulation as an excuse to charge consumers more."
This story was first posted at 11:46 a.m. and was updated at 12:30 p.m.