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President Barack Obama talks jobs, economy in Columbus

Cody Cousino / Photo editor

One day after submitting the $447 billion American Jobs Act to Congress, President Barack Obama stopped in Columbus on Tuesday to continue his campaign trail to promote the benefits of the new bill.

In front of an estimated crowd of 3,250 people, Obama spoke about his proposal, briefly outlining his plan to spend billions on rebuilding and modernizing schools, restructure the country’s unemployment insurance and provide tax cuts for small businesses and American families.

The crowd was very receptive of Obama’s speech, chanting along with the president on multiple occasions to “pass this bill.”

The president spoke for about 15 minutes outside Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School, comparing the plans potential and perceived success with that of the newly renovated high school in Columbus.

“The renovation of Fort Hayes is a great example of where (future) jobs can come from if we can finally get our act together in Washington,” Obama said.

Obama’s plan calls for a $25 billion investment in school infrastructure that would modernize at least 35,000 public schools.

Obama said the act of spending money on infrastructure improvements to create jobs “is one of the most common-sense ideas out there.”

Obama says that everything in this bill is something Republicans have agreed upon and accepted in the past, but House Speaker John Boehner has already spoken outwardly against the proposed bill saying that the Republicans have a “different approach” to create jobs.

“When you look at what we saw in the president’s pay-for’s yesterday, we see permanent tax increases put into effect in order to pay for temporary spending,” Boehner said. “I just don’t think that’s really going to help our economy the way it could.”

Republicans and Democrats not agreeing is just about all they can agree on lately. Ever since the debt-ceiling crisis in early August, both parties have been contentious towards each other.

These sentiments were prevalent again during Obama’s speech when he said, “Already, yesterday there were some Republicans quoted in Washington saying that even if they agree with the proposals in the American Jobs Act, they shouldn’t pass it because it would give me a win.”

Obama then said, “That’s the kind of game-playing we’ve gotten used to in Washington. Think about that. They supported this stuff in the past, but they’re thinking maybe they don’t do it this time because Obama is promoting it.”

Lucindy Luckett, an Instruction Assistant with Special Education at Arts Impact Middle School agreed with Obama’s thoughts on the political game in Congress.

“I think the shots at Congress are warranted. Congress is just trying to do a political game. All (Obama) is trying to do is clean up the mess that (Congress) has left,” Luckett said. “It takes more than four years to clean up this mess. It took more than four years to make it.”

Kimberly Webber-Wilson, an English teacher at Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School, thinks the proposed bill is imperative in putting teachers back in the classroom to improve education.

“I’m a perfect example of this,” she said. “At the (high school) newspaper, I’m it right now because I’m choosing to work out-of-contract. We lost a teacher, and when we lost a teacher our creative electives for the English program were completely dissolved.”

Webber-Wilson also said how teachers are educating in “packed houses” to more than 30 students, which is diluting the ideal educational process.

Ohio, along with the city of Columbus, would become a big beneficiary of the proposed bill if passed. Under the American Jobs Act, Ohio could receive up to $985.5 million in funding for K-12 schools to support as many as 12,800 jobs. Ohio would receive the sixth highest amount of funding in the country.

Included in this amount are direct funds for four of Ohio’s largest school districts, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo. Cleveland and Columbus would be guaranteed more than $100 million each, which is more than what 12 states in the country would receive in total.

Also, Ohio could receive $148.3 million in funding in the next fiscal year for its community colleges.

The American Jobs Act is an obvious effort to curb the stagnant 9.1 unemployment rate.

Melanise Nixon, a pharmaceutical technician at OSU East Hospital and U.S. Military Veteran, understands the stress and struggles that come with being unemployed.

“I was laid off for 13 months before I got the job at OSU and it was pretty rough on me … currently my niece is residing with my brother and his wife because her mother lost her job. For two years we’ve had to take care of her.”

It’s highly unlikely the GOP-led House will accept the bill in its entirety, which means some form of the legislation might not be passed for months.

Obama has sent the bill to Congress. Now, he is taking his proposed ideas to the American people. As he walked off the stage Tuesday, he shook hands with people in the crowd. While people were cheering, a Stevie Wonder song played on repeat.

It was his 1970 hit, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.”

Obama continues his jobs tour on Wednesday. He will be in Apex, North Carolina, visiting a small manufacturing business that would benefit from the proposed bill.

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