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In a speech at an warehouse in Chattanooga, Tennessee, President Obama continued his assault on the GOP’s plans to demand more cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit and continuing to fund the government. He seized on increasing evidence that the public is tired of Republicans’ intractable partisanship by introducing a new offer to congressional leaders.

“If folks in Washington want a ‘grand bargain,’ how about a grand bargain for middle-class jobs?” Obama asked.

The president’s plan would simplify the corporate tax code, adding incentives for manufacturing and creating jobs in America, then use some of the proceeds to increase spending on infrastructure, manufacturing hubs that advance technology and training, and community colleges.

Along with this “bargain,” Obama called for more exporting of American goods and help for the long-term unemployed.

“I’m challenging CEOs to do more to help these Americans get back on their feet, and this fall, I’ll bring together the CEOs and companies that are putting in place the best practices for recruiting, training, and hiring workers who’ve been seeking work for too long,” he said.

He punctuated his plans with a challenge to congressional Republicans.

“I am laying out my ideas to give the middle class a better shot in a 21st-century economy.  Now it’s time for Republicans to lay out theirs. If they’ve got a better plan to bring back more manufacturing jobs, or create jobs rebuilding our infrastructure for the long run, or help workers earn the high-tech skills our businesses demand, let’s hear [it],” he said.

The president then ripped apart Republican talking points on jobs, with some pointed words for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

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“But gutting protections for our air and water isn’t a jobs plan, he said. “Gutting investments in things like education and energy isn’t a jobs plan. Putting all your eggs in the basket of an oil pipeline that may only create about 50 permanent jobs, and wasting the country’s time by taking something like 40 meaningless votes to repeal Obamacare isn’t a jobs plan.”

The president’s speech follows several others as part of the rollout of his “A Better Bargain for the Middle Class” tour. Each speech has made a case that the economy has been improving with 7.2 million new jobs over the last 40 months as the deficit is falling faster than it has in 60 years. Each has pointed out that the middle class was suffering even before he took office. And each speech blasted Republicans for purposeful obstruction and clinging to a sequester that will kill 700,000 jobs this year and 900,000 next.

But today in Tennessee, the president made a proposal to Republicans that he says would create middle-class jobs, likely hoping to highlight the Republicans’ response.

Predictably, Republicans rejected the offer even before the speech began.


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