News Wrap: Obama Presses Senate to Pass Parts of Jobs Bill
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KWAME HOLMAN: President Obama was back on the bus today, in North Carolina and Virginia. He pressed the Senate to pass parts of his jobs bill. Last week, Republicans blocked the larger $447 billion measure.
In Jamestown, N.C., Mr. Obama urged voters to let their voices be heard.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Congress has a choice to make in the coming weeks. If they vote against the proposals I’m talking about, if they vote against taking steps that we know will put Americans back to work right now, they don’t have to answer to me. They’re going to have to answer to you.
They’re going to have to come down here to North Carolina and tell kids why they can’t have their teachers back in the classroom.
KWAME HOLMAN: Senate Democrats plan to bring up a $35 billion piece of the plan to help local governments pay for teachers, police and firefighters.
But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell argued the president’s previous attempts to create jobs have not worked and just drove up the nation’s debt.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-Ky., minority leader: They borrowed. They spent. They over-regulated. And all of those policies are in place. And you can see how much it’s done for the economy — 1.5 million jobs lost since the first stimulus. Now he’s coming back and asking us to do it again. You all have heard this before, because it’s one of my favorite sayings. At home, we say there’s no education in the second kick of a mule.
KWAME HOLMAN: The Senate could vote this week on the first part of the jobs plan.
Wall Street surged late in the day, recouping much of Monday’s losses. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 180 points to close at 11,577. The Nasdaq rose 42 points to close at 2,657.
The rally especially benefited financial institutions, with Bank of America shares up 10 percent. The company reported a third-quarter profit today, despite weakness in its core businesses.
The cost of mailing a letter in the U.S. is going up by a penny, to 45 cents. Increases in first-class postage and other rates will take effect on Jan. 22. The U.S. Postal Service lost $8 billion in 2010, and 2011 is expected to be even worse. The rate increases will not be nearly enough to make up the difference, but federal law bars raising the price of stamps more than the rate of inflation.
In Greece, the government ordered garbage crews back to work today to dispose of 17 days’ worth of trash rotting in piles in Athens. President — Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou used emergency powers to force action. It came on the eve of a general strike that’s expected to disrupt most public services. The planned two-day strike would coincide with a Greek Parliament vote on the toughest round of austerity measures yet.
Record flooding in Thailand menaced Bangkok, just a day after the city appeared to have skirted the danger. Monsoon downpours have affected two-thirds of the country, and now industrial sections and residential areas on the capital’s northern edge are submerged.
We have a report from John Sparks of Independent Television News.
JOHN SPARKS: For weeks, government ministers have been clear about one thing. Bangkok won’t flood, they said. Well, they were wrong. This is the Navanakorn district on the city’s northern edge, now subject to a full evacuation order, tens of thousands of workers and residents seeking sanctuary in the back of a truck, food and water from a plastic bag.
The Hongsala (ph) family told us they had to leave in a hurry.
WOMAN (through translator): They guaranteed us that Navanakorn was safe, but it flooded. I was so scared. My child was crying. We couldn’t stay.
JOHN SPARKS: We hitched a ride with the army. Their four-by-four trucks are now the only way in. And there was much work to do. Hundreds of firms have been flooded. Thousands of people had to be rescued.
This area was dry overnight, but the floodwaters have come in. In a matter of hours, there’s now three for four feet of water here. And the Navanakorn estate has now ground to a halt.
On a piece of high ground, we found workers waiting with Japanese factory managers. They have called the floods their second tsunami. Production has stopped. Their global supply chains in tatters. Yesterday, the military began dropping shipping containers in canals near Navanakorn in a bid to stem the flow.
The government’s ministers, the prime minister herself, has been telling people that Bangkok will be fine. They have been saying that for days.
SEAN BOONPRACONG, Government Flood Response Center, Thailand: Yes, they have. And I…
JOHN SPARKS: And you were wrong.
SEAN BOONPRACONG: Well, they — though, what we need to do is prepare in case a worst-case scenario happened.
JOHN SPARKS: Reality has set in. Soldiers and volunteers worked frantically this afternoon to bolster the city’s sandbag-filled barriers, and the governor of Bangkok says he needs another 1.2 million of them urgently.
KWAME HOLMAN: Officials also warned of new flooding dangers to districts just east of Bangkok.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.