WASHINGTON - (AP) - President Barack Obama said Thursday his planto create jobs and rebuild U.S. highways, bridges and schools wasan "insurance policy" against the slowing economy falling backinto recession and challenged Republicans to explain to theAmerican people why they are opposed to those measures.
The embattled president also implied that he was changing coursein his dealings with Congress, saying he had learned that he gotnowhere by trying to find a middle ground in the huge partisandivide that now splits the American political system.
With Obama facing a tough re-election battle in 2012 anddeclining approval ratings, the Republicans see him as vulnerableand have refused to compromise on any legislative proposal he hassent to Congress since the party regained a majority in the Houseof Representatives in November 2010.
Therefore, Obama said: "I think it's fair to say that I havegone out of my way in every instance - sometimes at my ownpolitical peril and to the frustration of Democrats - to work withRepublicans to find common ground to move this country forward." That tactic has not worked, he said.
"Each time, what we've seen in games-playing, a preference totry to score political points rather than actually get somethingdone on the part of the other side."
The president said that without his nearly $450 billion packageof tax cuts and public works spending there will be fewer jobs andweaker growth. He said the bill could guard against anothereconomic downturn if the situation in debt-laden Europe worsens.
With the plan expected to come up for debate in the Senate nextweek, he urged every senator to think "long and hard about what'sat stake."
"Any senator out there who's thinking about voting against thisjobs bill when it comes up for a vote needs to explain exactly whythey would oppose something we know would improve our economicsituation at such an urgent time," Obama said at a White Housenews conference.
"Our economy really needs a jolt right now," he said.