Before leaving North Carolina on Tuesday, President Barack Obama warned that failure to pass his proposed jobs bill would mean a $1,000 tax increase for most American families.
Speaking at Guilford Technical Community College, Obama tried to combat a new television ad released this week that implied approving parts of his $447 billion jobs package would raise taxes.
"Don't be bamboozled," Obama told a supportive crowd. "It's just not true. Here's what will happen. Voting 'no' on the jobs bill is voting in favor of middle-class families' income taxes going up."
The visit to the college outside Greensboro was Obama's final N.C. event on a three-day bus tour to promote the American Jobs Act. The trip concludes today after stops in Virginia.
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The Senate, with solid Republican opposition, voted last week to block the jobs bill. The administration plans to re-introduce elements of the bill, starting this week with a $35 billion proposal to prevent layoffs of firefighters, teachers and police. If passed, Obama told the crowd, it would mean 13,000 education jobs in North Carolina alone. Obama told a crowd estimated at 1,100 people that he was watching a football game when he saw a TV ad sponsored by American Crossroads. The political action committee contends the jobs bill is based on the old ideas behind the 2009 federal stimulus.
"President Obama's way is still the wrong way," a female narrator states.
But Obama said the advertisement isn't true. A provision in the jobs bill extends last year's payroll tax cut; if that cut isn't extended, Obama said most taxes for families will go up $1,000.
'I NEED TO FIND A JOB'
Obama's appearance at a technical college underscored his administration's push to retrain American workers.
At the rally, Quentin Stukes, 25, said he wants Congress to pass something that works.
Except for odd jobs, Stukes says he's been out of work since 2009. He estimates he has applied for at least a dozen jobs in the past year, including one at United Parcel Service this week.
He has returned to school at Guilford Tech to study automotive technology.
"This impacts me personally," he said. "I graduate in the summer 2012. I need to find a job."
The manufacturing-heavy Piedmont Triad region has been hit hard by job losses, according to N.C. A&T University Chancellor Harold Martin, who attended the rally.
Martin said his school has lost about 150 positions. Many students, he said, are asking whether their education is going to make a difference in finding a job.
Martin said some students have dropped out or had to rethink returning to school because one or both of their parents have lost jobs.
"It has had a significant impact on our student's ability to stay in school or return to school," he said of the struggling economy.
The White House describes Obama's three-day bus tour as a policy trip, but on Tuesday - as in the N.C. mountains Monday - it had the feel of a campaign.
At the school, the crowd started a "Fired Up, Ready to Go" chant in the gymnasium before Linda Phillips, a Ragsdale High School teacher, introduced the president.
Republicans have been critical of the political nature of the tour of North Carolina and Virginia, two swing states in the 2012 presidential election.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Tuesday accused his 2008 presidential race foe of an unprecedented level of campaigning on taxpayers' dollars.
Evoking his failed run for the presidency, McCain noted that he "didn't need a bus to be paid for and built by the government and the taxpayers of the United States."
Obama's road trip comes at a time when polls show him with some of the lowest ratings of his presidency.
In North Carolina, an Elon University poll this month found that about 42 percent of voters approve of the president's job performance.
Late Tuesday, as his bus entered Virginia, crowds flocked to watch the motorcade pass. Along one road, three men stood in a truck bed holding signs that read: "Job?" and "liar."
A woman held a sign saying: "Yes we can, 0bama 2012."
And a bowling alley sign offered this deal: "Presidents bowl free."