President Obama touted the signing of a $105 billion transportation bill and called on GOP lawmakers to take up additional measures he said would help speed up job creation, in his weekly address.
Speaking from Ohio, where Obama was wrapping up a two-day bus tour, the president pushed back against a weak June jobs report, telling Congress ”we've got to do more."
“Our mission isn’t just to put people back to work – it’s to rebuild an economy where that work pays; an economy in which everyone who works hard has the chance to get ahead,” said the president.
Obama said the highway bill, which was signed Friday and also includes provisions preventing a rise in federal student loan rates would “make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans.”
“For months, I’ve been pushing Congress to pass several common-sense ideas that will help us do that. And on Friday, I signed into law a bill that will do two things for the American people,” he said.
Obama’s remarks come as the administration plays defense over yet another lackluster jobs report, which showed the U.S. economy added only 82,000 jobs in June, a total leaving the national unemployment rate unchanged at 8.2 percent.
Republicans jumped on the data to criticize the president’s economic policies.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said that “millions and millions of families are struggling and suffering because the president's policies have not worked for them.”
Romney called the latest jobs news a “kick in the gut.”
Obama, at the transportation bill signing ceremony on Friday, said that GOP lawmakers should build on the legislation and send him more job-creating measures. “My hope is this bipartisan spirit spills over into the next phase,” he said.
In his address, Obama continued that theme, saying that there was still more lawmakers could do to help construction workers and students.
“It’s not enough to just keep construction workers on the job doing projects that were already underway,” he said.
“For months, I’ve been calling on Congress to take half the money we’re no longer spending on war and use it to do some nation-building here at home. There’s work to be done building roads and bridges and wireless networks. And there are hundreds of thousands of construction workers ready to do it.”
Obama also said that for college students, it was “not enough to just keep their student loan rates from doubling,” telling Congress to “reform and expand” the financial aid system.
“I’ve been asking them to help us give two million Americans the opportunity to learn the skills that businesses in their area are looking for – right now – through partnerships between community colleges and employers,” he said. “In America, a higher education cannot be a luxury reserved for just a privileged few.”
Obama closed his address by thanking voters for pressing the White House and Congress to act on jobs.
“I want to thank every American who took the time to sit down and write a letter, type out an e-mail, make a phone call or send a tweet hoping your voice would make a difference,” he said. “I promise you – your voice made all the difference. And as long as I have the privilege of being your President, your voice will be heard in the White House.”