Barack Obama comes home this week to celebrate his birthday, and to visit a Ford plant that has begun hiring again, aided by federal loan guarantees for clean energy production. Although Ford wasn't bailed out, it is part of an auto industry saved by the president's bold decision -- a decision that is paying off as the restructured companies are turning a profit and putting people back to work.

The auto company rescue was unpopular when President Bush first made the decision to intervene -- so that his successor could make his own choice. It was unpopular when Obama decided to rescue the companies, with an arranged bankruptcy for General Motors and Chrysler forcing restructuring. It is unpopular to this day. But it has worked. And it saved an estimated million jobs that would likely have been lost if the auto industry had been allowed to fail.

That success was the result of bold action. And now we need more bold action to help Chicago, Illinois and the nation -- which seem perilously close to turning back toward recession.

Illinois, like many states, faces brutal budget pressures. Gov. Quinn just released a budget calling for cuts in schools and universities, in public safety, in programs for the disabled, the elderly and the poor, and in Medicaid. But the governor is left with what he estimates may be a deficit as much at $13 billion.

Chicago, with its own budget crunch, gets hit with those cuts and more. Some 1,500 Chicago teachers may be laid off by the time the school year begins. High school class size is increasing from 28 to 33 students. After-school programs are being canceled. Chicago Public School children already receive hundreds of hours less in instruction each year than those in other major cities, and graduate (when they graduate) with the equivalent of four school years less in schooling.

And the crisis continues. The Chicago metropolitan area has gained about 9,000 jobs over the last months, but we lost 337,000 in the Great Recession. A staggering 42 percent of small apartment rental buildings are at risk of foreclosure. Homes have lost some 27 percent of their value.

With the economy still down, states under water, homeowners under water, severe cuts coming in teachers and safety officials, help is wanted.

The president can't do this alone. Stunningly, congressional Republicans have chosen to oppose every initiative proposed to make things better. It took weeks simply to get unemployment benefits extended. Republicans and conservative Democrats have blocked efforts to get money to the states to save the jobs of some 300,000 teachers and education workers who are facing layoffs across the country. Efforts to help the states with Medicaid support are also stymied. Worse, all major jobs programs have been shelved.

These initiatives spend money on one-time programs that will put people to work, help to get the economy moving, and be phased out as the economy recovers -- the exact kind of action needed in a recession.

But the Republicans, and some Democrats, who say we can't afford such programs because of the deficits are calling for extending the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans permanently -- an action that would do little to help the economy in the short term and add literally trillions to the deficits in the long term. After the recession itself, the Bush tax cuts are the biggest source of our current deficits.

So, celebrate your birthday and the signs of life in the auto industry, Mr. President. Get some rest. And look around. The city you love, the neighborhoods you once organized and taught in, are in trouble.

We need help, big time.

We need the president to call the opposition in Congress to account, to demand action on behalf of the country. The United Auto Workers, the Rainbow Coalition and dozens of other organizations will help sponsor marches on Aug. 28 in Detroit and on Oct. 2 in Washington, D.C., in which will stand, thousands strong, demanding action on jobs and challenging those standing in the way.