President Obama called on Congress to “pass this jobs bill” in a punchy speech delivered in urgent tones on Sept. 9.
Obama’s $447 billion package of tax cuts and new government spending is designed to revive an economy stuck in neutral.
Obama emphasized that many of the things he was proposing had been supported by both Republicans and Democrats in the past. To keep the proposals from adding to the swelling federal deficit, Mr. Obama also said he would encourage a more ambitious target for long-term reduction of the deficit.
“You should pass this jobs plan right away,” the president said repeatedly in his 32-minute speech.
Called the American Jobs Act, Obama’s proposal includes more than $250 billion in tax incentives for small businesses and employers, according to administration estimates. The rest of the money would be devoted to infrastructure spending, state aid, unemployment insurance, and neighborhood rehabilitation. The president will pay for the proposal by asking the congressional super committee tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction to offset the cost of the package in their proposal.
Obama’s proposals were substantially larger than predicted, and much of the money would flow into the economic bloodstream in 2012.
“The proposals the president outlined tonight merit consideration,” Speaker John A. Boehner said in a statement. “We hope he gives serious consideration to our ideas as well.”
“Ultimately, our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our businesses and our workers,” Obama said. “But we can help. We can make a difference. There are steps we can take right now to improve people’s lives.”
In setting out his program, Mr. Obama was, in effect, daring Republicans not to pass measures that enjoy support among independent voters and business leaders. If the Republicans refuse to embrace at least some of the measures, administration officials said, Mr. Obama will take them directly to the American public, portraying Congress as do-nothing and obstructionist.
“Maybe some of you have decided that those differences are so great that we can only resolve them at the ballot box,” Mr. Obama told the lawmakers. “But know this: the next election is fourteen months away. And the people who sent us here — the people who hired us to work for them — they don’t have the luxury of waiting fourteen months.”