UPDATE 1-Obama counters Republican critics on jobs agenda

* Obama says efforts working despite 9.9 pct unemployment

* Acknowledges that times are still tough in many places

* Urges Congress to act on measures to help small business
(Updates with Obama fundraiser speech in Manhattan)

By Ross Colvin

BUFFALO, N.Y., May 13 (BestGrowthStock) – President Barack Obama
defended his administration’s economic recovery efforts on
Thursday and accused Republicans of trying to block Democratic
policies for political gain.

With public anxiety over the fragile economy threatening
Obama’s Democrats in November’s congressional elections, he
tried to turn the tables on Republican critics, accusing them
of sitting on the sidelines last year when he was tackling the
financial crisis.

Obama, speaking to factory workers in Buffalo, New York,
made the case that his administration acted “boldly and
quickly” to avert another Great Depression and move the country
on the path to recovery.

Touting the latest government reports showing job growth
for the fourth straight month, Obama argued that his efforts
were working despite a 9.9 percent unemployment rate in April.

“Today, we are heading in the right direction,” he said.
“Despite all the naysayers who were predicting failure a year
ago, our economy is growing again.”

Later, at a Democratic fund-raising speech in Manhattan,
Obama was blistering in his criticism of Republicans who are
poised to pick up seats against Democratic majorities in
November elections for the U.S. House of Representatives and
the Senate.

Obama said Republicans have “done their best to gum up the
works” and said they generated much of the country’s fiscal
deficit that they now complain about.

“Their basic attitude has been, if Democrats lose, we win.
After they drove the car in the ditch, made it as difficult as
possible for us to pull it back, now they want the keys back.
No. They can’t drive. We don’t want to have to go back in the
ditch,” he said.

TOUGH TIMES

Obama, who has called job creation his top domestic
priority, predicted the economy would be stronger next month
than last and better next year than it is now, but acknowledged
that times are still tough in many places.

Hard-hit western New York had a message for the president.

In a counterpoint to Obama’s upbeat outlook, a billboard
put up by a local businessman in economically hard-hit Buffalo
carried the message: “Dear Mr. President, I need a freakin job.
Period.”

Republicans hoping to capitalize on the public’s economic
concerns to score electoral gains went on the attack against
Obama’s jobs agenda.

“Check your facts, Mr. President,” U.S. House of
Representatives Republican leader John Boehner said in a
statement. “More debt, higher taxes, and bigger government may
be President Obama’s idea of a ‘jobs program,’ but it’s hurting
our economy and making it harder to put people back to work.”

Republicans say Obama’s policies have failed to dent
unemployment, a political sore spot for the president that has
helped drag down his approval rating to 50 percent or lower.

Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package approved last year by
the Democratic-controlled Congress was largely rejected by
Republicans. However, many independent economists have said the
measures helped avert an even deeper recession.

Recalling the stimulus fight, Obama said he refused at the
time to give in to “partisan posturing.”

“I had one side of the aisle just sit on the sidelines as
the crisis unfolded,” Obama said. “And if we had taken that
position, just thinking about what was good for my politics,
millions more Americans would have lost their jobs and their
businesses and their homes.”

He urged Congress to act on measures his administration has
proposed to help small businesses get loans and create jobs.

Growth Stocks

(Writing by Matt Spetalnick, additional reporting by
Patricia Zengerle and Steve Holland; Editing by Xavier Briand
and Sandra Maler)

UPDATE 1-Obama counters Republican critics on jobs agenda