A passionate President Obama's made hisa call to action: "Pass this jobs bill." He uttered the phrase, like a chant, more than a dozen times during his 33-minute address (see the video and speech excerpts below), and invoked former President John F. Kennedy in his closing remarks: "President Kennedy once said, 'Our problems are man-made - therefore they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants.'"
The challenge for Mr. Obama is whether the men and women in Washington can solve the man-made problems, and stop the "political circus," as he called it. If the debt ceiling drama was any indication, the problems and divisiveness in government won't be easily solved or overcome.
In closing, Mr. Obama acknowledged the challenge of getting Congress, meaning the Republican side, to find common ground and pass his plan, which is about $450 billion (half in tax cuts) in added cost that must be offset by savings:
"I know there's been a lot of skepticism about whether the politics of the moment will allow us to pass this jobs plan - or any jobs plan. Already, we're seeing the same old press releases and tweets flying back and forth. Already, the media has proclaimed that it's impossible to bridge our differences. And maybe some of you have decided that those differences are so great that we can only resolve them at the ballot box. But know this: the next election is fourteen months away. And the people who sent us here - the people who hired us to work for them - they don't have the luxury of waiting fourteen months."
As he has done over the last several months of battles with the GOP, the president said his plan was the right thing to do and that he would take his message on road to appeal directly to Americans. "Regardless of the arguments we've had in the past, regardless of the arguments we'll have in the future, this plan is the right thing to do right now. You should pass it. And I intend to take that message to every corner of this country."
After the speech, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said that he saw areas of commonality, such as small business tax relief and streamlining infrastructure financing, but maintained that Mr. Obama's "my way or the highway approach doesn't work in this town or anywhere."
"There's a lot in the president's speech tonight I think we can agree on and what I would say is we reject the all-or-nothing approach that he took tonight," Cantor said. "But as majority leader I'd like to see us peel off the things we can agree on together and put those in motion and across the floor as soon as possible so that we can deliver results for people that put us here, so we can see an economy start to grow again and people get back to work."
On Friday, Mr. Obama is going to Richmond, Virginia -- in Cantor's home state -- to start selling his plan to the American people in a speech at the University of Richmond's Robins Center. He hopes his new plan to stimulate the economy and create jobs will sell better than his failed effort to "go big" to reduce the U.S. debt in July.
More from Mr. Obama's remarks:
I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away. It's called the American Jobs Act.
It will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and hire, there will be customers for their products and services. You should pass this jobs plan right away.
Pass this jobs bill, and starting tomorrow, small businesses will get a tax cut if they hire new workers or raise workers' wages.
Pass this jobs bill, and all small business owners will also see their payroll taxes cut in half next year.
It's not just Democrats who have supported this kind of proposal. Fifty House Republicans have proposed the same payroll tax cut that's in this plan. You should pass it right away.
Pass this jobs bill, and we can put people to work rebuilding America.
The American Jobs Act will repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools....It's the kind of proposal that's been supported in the past by Democrats and Republicans alike. You should pass it right away.
Pass this jobs bill, and thousands of teachers in every state will go back to work.
Pass this jobs bill, and put our teachers back in the classroom where they belong.
Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get extra tax credits if they hire America's veterans.
Pass this bill, and hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged young people will have the hope and dignity of a summer job next year.
Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get a $4,000 tax credit if they hire anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job.
Democrats and Republicans in this Chamber have supported unemployment insurance plenty of times in the past. At this time of prolonged hardship, you should pass it again - right away.
Pass this jobs bill, and the typical working family will get a fifteen hundred dollar tax cut next year.
Now is not the time to carve out an exception and raise middle-class taxes, which is why you should pass this bill right away.