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Obama blasts GOP as naysayers on economic agenda

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Lumping Republicans together as the "just say no" crowd, President Barack Obama challenged his critics yesterday to explain why they oppose his steps to fix the economy. Said Obama: "Tell us why doing nothing would be better for America."

In the latest campaign stop for his economic agenda, this one in struggling Ohio, Obama took concerted swipes at what he called the "unified, determined opposition of one party."

He said it's not too late for bipartisanship, even as he criticized those he said were badmouthing his efforts. "If the just-say-no crowd had won out - if we had done things the way they wanted to go - we'd be in a deeper world of hurt," Obama said, in the swing state of Ohio. Unemployment there is close to 11 percent, above the nationwide average of nearly 10 percent.

The president came to explain and defend economic stimulus spending, and measures like tax credits and extended unemployment benefits he'd championed with mostly Democratic support in Congress. Without those measures, he said, "the steady progress we are beginning to see across America just wouldn't exist."

Republicans have opposed the steep cost of Obama's plans and criticized the pace of the promised recovery, particularly on the key measure of jobs.

His comments came on a day of closely watched primary elections in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Arkansas, which are shaping up as a referendum on incumbent Democrats - and to a degree the president.

The president is on a drive to show people that the country's economy is getting better, even as their individual situations may not be yet. He got out of Washington and donned a hard hat, goggles and a fire-retardant jacket while touring a hot, noisy plant where metal piping was being manufactured.

He acknowledged that some may not be impressed by a president swooping into town, when all they want to see is a headline saying: "You're hired." Still, he tried to keep spirits up for employees at V&M STAR, a place he said is benefiting directly from his economic policies.

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