He urged Senate Republicans to “end a month-long standoff” on the small business jobs bill that has already passed in the House. According to Obama, the bill will provide incentives for 4 million small businesses to create jobs and will in some cases double the amount of money they can borrow. “It’s a bill that’s been paid for, a bill that won’t add to the deficit. It has been written by Democrats and Republicans,” he said. “Yet a minority of Republican senators have been using legislative tactics to prevent the bill from even getting to a vote.”
During the press conference Obama announced that economic adviser Austan Goolsbee will replace Christina Romer as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors. He also addressed a number of other issues, including black and Native American farmer settlements, which he said would continue to be a priority.
The president was asked several questions about the controversial Islamic community center to be built a few blocks from Ground Zero and the Florida minister who’d been threatening to hold a Quran burning event on Sept. 11.
He acknowledged why some people are upset about the proposed center, but said that if a church, synagogue or a Hindu temple could be built at a site, a mosque should, too. He also warned of the dangerous and offensive message that any hint of Islamophobia sends to Muslims not just abroad, but in the U.S. as well.
“I’ve got Muslims who are fighting in Afghanistan in the uniform of the United States armed services,” putting their lives on the line, the president said. “We’ve got to make sure that we are crystal-clear for our sakes and their sakes [that] they are Americans and we honor their service. And part of honoring their service is making sure that they understand that we don’t differentiate between them and us. It’s just us.”