Obama uses new campaign theme to strike Congress

President Obama unveiled a new campaign theme Monday, using it to criticize Congress and not one of his Republican rivals.

Obama, speaking to supporters in Las Vegas, said he "can't wait" for Congress to act on jobs, so he will unveil a series of executive actions in the coming weeks that can help the economy.

"Because we can't wait for Congress to help our families and our economy," Obama said.

The message reflects a new chapter in the president's jobs campaign that will see him traveling the country with the message: "We can't wait."

In Las Vegas as part of a three-day West Coast campaign swing, Obama announced his new effort -- used under executive authority -- would help struggling homeowners refinance their mortgages to avoid foreclosure.

The president announced his new initiative by arguing that Congress, by voting against his jobs bill, had left him no choice but to pursue unilateral policies that will help the economy in the short-term.

"Last week, for the second time this month, Republicans in the Senate blocked a jobs bill from moving forward – a bill that would’ve meant jobs for nearly 400,000 teachers, firefighters and first responders," Obama said. "It was the kind of proposal Republicans and Democrats have voted for in the past.  It was paid for.  And it was supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people.  But they still said no."

Obama and administration officials pushing the "we can't wait" idea Monday acknowledged that the new housing effort would only go so far, and for the economy to show real improvement, Congress has to act.

The president reminded supporters that when he addressed the joint session of Congress last month, he said he would "do everything in my power to act on behalf of the American people -- with or without Congress."

"So I’m here to say that we can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job," Obama said. "Where they won’t act, I will."

Congressional Republicans argue they have 15 jobs bills stalled in the Democratic-controlled Senate. House GOP leaders are expected to bring two pieces of their jobs legislation for a vote in the lower chamber this week.

Nevada will be an important swing state in the 2012 election but the president made no mention of his GOP rivals. His campaign surrogates, however, have attacked former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Romney has made Nevada -- and its housing crisis -- one of his main campaign issues and is working hard to win the state's caucuses as part of his strategy for capturing the GOP nomination.

-- This story was updated at 5:50 p.m.