President Obama sought today to place some of the blame for a struggling economy on Congress, saying its refusal to act on parts of his jobs bill has helped keep unemployment high.
"Congress can't just sit on their hands," Obama told an enthusiastic crowd at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.
"So my message to Congress is: Let's get to work."
Among Obama's proposals: Road, bridge, and other infrastructure projects to create construction jobs, and more aid to states to prevent the layoffs of teachers, police officers, and firefighters.
Speaking to a college audience, Obama also urged to renew a low-interest student loan program that expires July 1. Without renewal, Obama told the students that their loan payments may double.
"Congress has got to do its part," Obama said.
Congressional Republicans said the GOP-run House has passed legislation that would help create jobs, but they have been blocked by the Democratic-run Senate.
GOP leaders also said they are willing to extend the low-interest student loan program, but the Obama administration isn't negotiating with them.
"The only people dragging their feet on this issue are over at the White House," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
The economy -- including an unemployment rate that continues to hover over 8% -- is the major issue in this year's election between Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
One of the differences between the parties: Obama has proposed financing his jobs plan with higher taxes on the nation's wealthiest people; Republicans say tax hikes will inhibit job creators.
As for the student loan issue, Republicans say the costs of extending a five-year-old, low interest student loan program should be offset by budget cuts; Democrats have proposed a different set of cuts, including elimination of subsidies for oil and gas companies.
In his speech at UNLV, Obama said budget politics should force students to pay more college loans.
"This is one of the best things we can do for the economy," Obama said. "Making college affordable."
Obama also discussed other parts of his jobs plans, including new rules for the re-financing of home mortgages, tax credits for clean energy programs, creation of a "Veterans Jobs Corp," and tax breaks for companies that hire new people.
Republicans, including presidential candidate Romney, say businesses are leery of Obama's economic policies because so many of them involved higher taxes and more government regulations.
"Instead of pushing pro-growth policies that will help improve our economy, President Obama has repeatedly made it harder for businesses to grow, thrive, and create new jobs," said Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul.