Ahead of his Thursday address to Congress, President Obama told Republicans today it’s time to “get on board” and urged them to support his proposals to boost jobs creation and help the middle class.
In a campaign-style speech at a Labor Day rally in Detroit, Obama challenged Congressional Republicans to put country ahead of party but warned “we’re not going to wait for them.”
“The time for Washington games is over. The time for action is now,” Obama told thousands of union workers gathered at the annual event.
The president declined to offer any new specifics of his jobs plan, saying he wanted everyone to tune in on Thursday. Offering “just a little bit,” the president hinted that he would be putting forth ideas to rebuild roads and bridges across the country and to get more than one million unemployed constructions workers back on the job.
“There is work to be done and workers ready to do it… We just need Congress to get on board. Let’s put America back to work,” Obama said.
The event included a slate of performers, including Aretha Franklin, and speakers, including Teamsters head James Hoffa. He warned the audience against the influence of the Tea Party, which he said wants to attack organized labor.
“Lets take these sons of bitches out,” he told the audience before Obama spoke .
The event in Detroit came several hours before a gathering of Republican presidential candidates in South Carolina. Sponsored by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, Republicans talked at the forum about their own jobs proposals. GOP Front-runner and Texas Gov. Rick Perry was a last-minute cancellation for the South Carolina event. He traveled back to Texas, where wildfires rage out of control.
The president in Detroit tried to stay focused on his jobs agenda. He also called on Congress to once again extend the payroll tax cut and said putting money back in the pockets of working American’s is the best way to stimulate the economy.
Going forward, Obama said that he will be proposing ideas that both parties can support and stressed that “folks have got to get together” to take the steps necessary to create jobs.
Obama also courted the union vote, describing unions as the “bedrock” of the country. “America cannot have a strong growing economy without a strong growing middle class and without a strong labor movement,” he explained.
Speaking out against anti-union forces, the president promised to fight for workers’ rights. “I know this is not about economics, this is about politics,” Obama said of those who have “their sights trained” on unions.
“I want everybody here to know that as long as I’m in the White House I’m going to stand up for collective bargaining,” Obama said as the boisterous crowd chanted “four more years!”
“We understand the world is changing. Unions understand the world is changing… but what unions also know is that the values at the core of the union movement, those don’t change. Those are the values that have made this country great. That’s what the folks trying to undermine your rights don’t understand,” Obama said.
The president hailed Detroit as a city that is making a comeback, and touted his administration’s decision to bail out the auto industry, which is now boasting profits.
“You ask somebody here if times are tough, they’ll say, ‘yeah, it’s tough, but we’re tougher,’” Obama said, describing Detroit as a city that’s been “to heck and back.”
“Yes, times are tough. But we’ve been through tough times before. I don’t know about you, but I’m not scared of tough times. I’m not scared of tough times because I know we’re going to be all marching together and walking together and working together and rebuilding together and I know we don’t quit! I know we don’t give up our dreams and settle for something less. We roll up our sleeves and we remember… we are strong when we are united. We are firing on all cylinders and the union movement is going to be at the center of it,” Obama concluded.