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President Barack Obama stopped in Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood on Tuesday with a message that he is hoping will resonate with people across the United States: Adding more jobs to the workforce now is the immediate answer to an ailing economy.
“People are out of work right now, and they need help right now,” Obama said. “Right now, our economy needs a jolt, and today, the Senate has a chance to do something by voting for the American Jobs Act.”
Obama met with members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union No. 5 at its South Side training center at the corner of Hot Metal and East Carson streets just before noon on Tuesday. Obama took a tour of the IBEW training facilities, held a meeting of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and discussed the need for Congress to pass the American Jobs Act in an effort to create more than 1 million new jobs in the country.
Today marks a critical turning point for the bill, which faces its first vote to move forward in the U.S. Senate. Obama has been traveling across the country promoting the $447-billion act, which he hopes will add more jobs for the entire workforce in an effort to help turn around a struggling economy. Obama is heading into a year that will mark his bid for re-election.
“No other jobs plan has that kind of support from economists,” Obama said of the bill. “Today is the day when every American will find out where their senator stands on this jobs bill.”
Obama said that the plan would cut taxes for businesses that expand and hire more, would cut taxes for those who hire veterans and would put laid-off teachers back to work, preventing more job cuts in the future.
“The story of America’s success is written by its entrepreneurs, and we just lost one of the greatest entrepreneurs in Steve Jobs,” Obama said. “That spirit is how we became the world’s leading economy.”
Obama also brought up the fact that the bill has been criticized for its taxation of the richest people in the country.
“Ask your senators what is wrong with asking them to pay a little more,” Obama said.
Obama also discussed the fact that more than 1 million construction workers have lost their jobs, and he said that the average age of a bridge in Pittsburgh is 54 years.
“We are still benefiting from the work that was done by our grandparents,” he said. “This bill will give local contractors the chance to get back to work in rebuilding America. Why would anyone say no to that?
“The Senate should vote for this jobs bill today. They should not wait.”
During his meeting with the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, Obama stressed that he would act even without congressional approval of his whole jobs bill. He noted that federal agencies are “scouring” the bill to find efforts that can be done administratively and that could approve planks piecemeal as well.
“The American people can’t afford to wait,” Obama said. “They need help right now.”
He also called on businesses to help get the bill “across the finish line.”
Obama said that passing the bill means that the nation would come together and strengthen the economy.
“It’s a matter of shared priority and shared sacrifice,” Obama said. “It’s time to build an economy that has good, middle-class jobs, to build jobs that last, and that’s what this bill will do.”
Obama urged the crowd attending his speech to email, Tweet and send a letter to its leaders to pass the bill.
“If you want tax cuts for your family and small business owners, pass this bill,” he said. “Do the right thing.”
A throng of protesters marched down East Carson shortly after 11 a.m. before Obama arrived, chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Keystone Pipeline’s gotta go,” and “This is what democracy looks like.”
After walking down to the intersection of East Carson and 27th Street, the throng turned around and marched back toward downtown Pittsburgh.
Small crowds gathered at the corners of each side of the street outside of the IBEW training center. One woman stood with her cane and said, “This is the only time I’ll get to see the president. I don’t have another 60 years.”
Barbara Stanton, 39, of the Pittsburgh’s North Side area, waited on East Carson for the president to arrive. Stanton works on the South Side and decided to come out for the experience.
“Just to be this close to it is kind of cool,” she said. “I’ve never seen a presidential motorcade before.
“This is what makes our country great, but at the same time, look at the shape our country is in. It’s good that he is here to present this.”
Stanton said that she felt that Pittsburgh was the perfect place for the president to discuss the American Jobs Act.
“Pittsburgh is very working class. We are salt-of-the-earth people.”
This article originally appeared on the Forest Hills-Regent Square Patch.
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