Obama: Budget cuts shouldn't target education

President Barack Obama answers a reporter's question after signing the Honoring Americaâ Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

(CBS News) In the back-to-school spirit, President Obama in his weekly address urged House Republicans to sign onto his jobs bill, which he argued would help state and local governments keep education a priority "even in tough fiscal times."

Drawing from a visit to Cascade High School earlier this week during a campaign swing through Iowa, the president lamented that "this year, several thousand fewer educators will be going back to school" because of budget cuts. "At a time when the rest of the world is racing to out-educate America," he said, "these cuts force our kids into crowded classrooms, cancel programs for preschoolers and kindergarteners, and shorten the school week and the school year."

Mr. Obama blamed the GOP-controlled House for blocking passage of the jobs bill he sent to Capitol Hill last September, which he said "included support for states to prevent further layoffs and to rehire teachers who'd lost their jobs." Their alternative plan, he continued, "would make the situation even worse" by further gutting education programs like Head Start - "all to pay for a massive new tax cut for millionaires and billionaires."

"I am only the President of the United States today because of the chance my education gave me," he said. "I want every child in America to have that chance - that's what I'm fighting for. And as long as I have the privilege of being your president, that's what I'm going to keep fighting for."

Meanwhile, delivering the Republicans' weekly address, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., a working farmer, used her own current event of choice to point a finger back at Mr. Obama and defend her party's efforts in the House.

Nodding to August's ongoing state fairs, which she said this year "means recognizing the perseverance of our farmers and ranchers as they face the worst drought our country has suffered in decades," Hartzler charged the president and the Democrat-controlled Senate with dropping the ball on House-approved measures to help farmers affected by the drought in the Midwest - Missouri included.

"I was relieved earlier this month when the House passed a bipartisan measure helping farmers devastated by the ongoing drought," Hartzler said. "A lot was riding on this bill, but the Senate, a body controlled by the president's party, left Washington for the month of August without even bringing it to a vote."

Hartzler also credited House Republicans with passing "more than 30 jobs bills," a budget that "saves Medicare," and efforts to stop a Jan. 1 triggered tax hike on small businesses.

"While the president tells small business owners like me 'you didn't build that,'" she said, repeating the GOP's new favorite attack line from a recent speech by the president, "Republicans know better and are committed to getting government out of their way."

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    Lindsey Boerma is senior video producer for CBSNews.com.

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