By Bonnie K. Goodman
Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:
IN FOCUS: PRESIDENT OBAMA ADDRESS UNVEILS $450 BILLION JOBS LAN WITH PAYROLL TAX CUTS TO A JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS
President Obama to unveil nearly $450 billion jobs program: In a speech tonight before Congress, President Obama will propose a nearly $450 billion program of tax cuts and new government spending aimed at energizing the country’s stalling economic recovery, the Associated Press reported.
Congressional officials and others outside the White House say the plan would increase and extend a payroll tax cut for workers and employers, AP reported. The initiative, which faces a tough fight in Congress, comes amid mounting concerns that the U.S. economy is slipping back into recession and as Obama’s approval rating has tumbled to new lows, barely more than a year before he faces re-election.
“The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours. The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy, whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.” — President Barack Obama
“Now is not the time to carve out an exception and raise middle-class taxes, which is why you should pass this bill right away.” — President Barack Obama
“The only thing we can do restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everyone’s money, let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own.” — President Barack Obama
“These are real choices we have to make. And I’m pretty sure I know what most Americans would choose. It’s not even close.” — President Barack Obama
“I know some of you have sworn oaths never to raise any taxes on anyone for as long as you live. Now is not the time to carve out an exception and raise middle-class taxes, which is why you should pass this bill right away.” — President Barack Obama
“There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by Democrats and Republicans.” — — President Barack Obama
“Ultimately, our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our businesses and our workers. But we can help. We can make a difference. There are steps we can take right now to improve people’s lives.” — President Barack Obama
“The proposals the president outlined tonight merit consideration. We hope he gives serious consideration to our ideas as well. It’s my hope that we can work together to end the uncertainty facing families and small businesses, and create a better environment for long-term economic growth and private-sector job creation.” — House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement
“This package of common-sense, bipartisan proposals will present a litmus test to Republicans. I hope they will show the American people that they are more interested in reating jobs than defeating President Obama.” — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement
“This wasn’t at the behest of Congress. This is the president who called 535 members back to hear what I believe was nothing more than a political speech….
This is a speech that we got, and the Congressional Budget Office has said it is impossible for them to score a speech. So we don’t know the details, but I’m clearly disappointed by what I heard tonight.” — Rep. Michele Bachmann
Full Text September 8, 2011: President Barack Obama’s Address to Joint Session of Congress Unveiling $450 Billion Jobs Plan — (Speech Transcript), 9-8-11
Live Blog: President Obama’s Address on Job Creation to a Joint Session of Congress — ABC News, 9-8-11
- Factbox: Key elements of Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan: President Barack Obama proposed a $447 billion package of tax cuts and spending measures on Thursday aimed at spurring growth and hiring. Here are some of the key elements of his American Jobs Act, which he announced to a rare joint session of Congress:
EMPLOYEE PAYROLL TAX HOLIDAY
EMPLOYER PAYROLL TAX HOLIDAY
EXTENDING 100 PERCENT COMPANY EXPENSING INTO 2012
$85 BLN IN AID FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
ROAD, RAIL AND AVIATION INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING
EXTENDING UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE, BRIDGE TO WORK
…. – Reuter, 9-8-11
- Will Obama’s jobs plan work? — Politico Arena, 9-8-11
- Obama Challenges Congress on Job Plan: Mixing politically moderate proposals with a punchy tone, President Obama challenged lawmakers on Thursday to “pass this jobs bill” — a blunt call on Congress to enact his $447 billion package of tax cuts and new government spending designed to revive a stalling economy as well as his own political standing.
Speaking to a joint session of Congress, Mr. Obama ticked off a list of measures that he emphasized 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 set his sights on a more ambitious target for long-term reduction of the deficit.
“You should pass this jobs plan right away,” the president declared over and over in his 32- minute speech that eschewed Mr. Obama’s trademark oratory in favor of a plainspoken appeal for action — and a few sarcastic political jabs…. – NYT, 9-8-11
- In jobs speech, Obama urges passage of $447 billion package: In a last-gasp attempt to jolt the economy and his reelection prospects, President Barack Obama on Thursday put forward a $447 billion jobs package, challenging Congress to shut down the “political circus” and pass his bill as soon as possible.
After three weeks of buildup, Obama delivered the speech amid high stakes, potentially one of his last major opportunities to wrest the economic debate back from Republicans and reenergize the economy after months of sputtering growth. But expectations that the entirety of his plan would prove palatable to the Republican-controlled House remained low.
Obama disregarded that political reality and called on Congress to approve his American Jobs Act “right away,” a phrase he repeated eight times in the 34-minute speech. Speaking with an urgent, clipped tone, he pit lawmakers against their constituents, saying Americans couldn’t wait while Washington played games…. – Politico, 9-8-11
- Jobs speech response: Michele Bachmann says Obama ‘politically paralyzed’: Rep. Michele Bachmann accused President Barack Obama of being “politically paralyzed” and urged lawmakers not to pass the jobs proposal she charged was nothing more than a campaign tactic…. – Politico, 9-8-11
- Analysis: Among the jobs Obama hopes to save is his own: Among the jobs President Obama hopes to save with Thursday night’s proposals to a Joint Session of Congress is his own. There are no guarantees that the $447 billion American Jobs Act will be enacted, or that it would significantly reduce unemployment if it were. But the package of payroll tax relief, extended jobless benefits, and funding to repair schools, fix roads and keep teachers working at the minimum gives Obama a plan to extol — and to batter a “do nothing” Congress with if it fails to act. He exhorted Congress to “pass this jobs bill” or “pass it right away” 16 separate times. And he said the word “jobs” 37 times in 34 minutes…. – USA Today, 9-8-11
- Obama’s Bid to Spur Growth President Asks Congress for $447 Billion In Cuts, Spending; Tepid GOP Response: Only part of President Obama’s American Jobs Act is likely to pass Congress in the end, with the final tab closer to $150 billion than the $447 billion the president has proposed, WSJ’s David Wessel tells Simon Constable. Photo: Getty Images.
President Barack Obama called on Congress Thursday to pass a $447 billion package of spending initiatives and tax cuts to boost economic growth, in what might be the White House’s last chance to revive its political fortunes before the 2012 campaign kicks into high gear.
The president’s plan, unveiled in a speech to a joint session of Congress, is an attempt to wrest the initiative in Washington’s protracted debate about fiscal policy. Both parties emerged from the debt-ceiling fight this summer with their approval ratings heading south as the economy stalled with the unemployment rate stuck above 9%.
In one sense, the jobs plan is in part a political strategy designed to give Mr. Obama room to campaign against Congress if lawmakers don’t act. White House officials say they don’t expect Congress to pass much of the proposal, which they say was constructed from policies that have previously won bipartisan support—a point Republicans dispute…. – WSJ, 9-8-11
- Small Business Is Focus of Tax Cuts: President Barack Obama’s new jobs plan seeks to coax wary employers to invest and hire more by slicing their share of payroll taxes next year. But while the payroll-tax cuts figure to appeal to Republican lawmakers…. – WSJ, 9-8-11
- Obama Prods Congress to Pass $450B Jobs Package ‘Right Away’: President Obama urged Congress to pass a new jobs bill, which includes plans to expand a payroll tax cut, in an address to Congress. “This plan is the right thing to do right now,” the president said…. – PBS Newshour, 9-8-11
- Obama to Congress: Americans want action now on jobs: President Obama urged Congress to end the “political circus” and act to help a nation still facing economic hardship, outlining a $447-billion legislative package that includes tax cuts for working families and small businesses and spending to rebuild infrastructure.
The president, in a Thursday evening address to lawmakers in a special joint session, argued that there “is nothing controversial” about his plan – though the price tag was larger than expected, and, perhaps, more than Republicans in Congress will seriously consider.
Obama acknowledged the political prism through which his speech was being viewed. His approval rating is at or near the low point of his presidency, and the Republican campaign to unseat him is in full swing…. – LAT, 9-8-11
- Obama Urges Congress to Pass $450 Billion Jobs Plan ‘Right Away’: Seeking to boost a slumping economy along with his hopes for re-election, President Obama on Thursday night implored Congress to pass a $450 billion jobs plan that he says will give an array of tax cuts to small businesses that hire while reforming the corporate tax code and investing in infrastructure projects.
In a highly-anticipated speech to a joint session of Congress, Obama repeatedly called on lawmakers to pass his plan “right away,” saying “there should be nothing controversial” about the American Jobs Act. Obama said all the proposals are paid for with spending cuts although he won’t detail them until next week.
The biggest element in Obama’s plan calls for increasing and extending a payroll tax cut for workers that goes to Social Security, while providing the tax cut to employers, too. For workers, the tax that has been cut from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent for this year would fall to 3.1 percent under Obama’s plan — a $175 billion cost. The tax will go back up to 6.2 percent without congressional action by the end of the year.
Senior administration officials wouldn’t say how many job the plan would create but noted that it could have an immediate impact. The idea is to have an effect “within the year,” one official said…. – Fox News, 9-8-11
- Obama unveils $447B jobs plan: Urging Congress to “stop the political circus,” President Obama on Thursday night called for immediate action on a $447 billion package of spending initiatives and tax cuts designed to jump-start the stalling economy.
In the face of the worst recovery from a recession in the nation’s history, a stubborn unemployment rate hovering around 9 percent and zero job growth in the month of August, the pressure is on the president to take action. The challenges remain daunting, however, as Republicans in Congress are taking a combative stance against the president’s policies, with 14 months to go before the 2012 elections.
Dubbed the “American Jobs Act,” the plan Mr. Obama is sending to Congress is larger than many expected. More than half of the plan is tax cuts for working Americans and small businesses. It also includes spending initiatives in areas like infrastructure. While a package that costs hundreds of billions may be hard to swallow for a Congress that’s been more focused this year on deficit reduction, the president is signaling to Republicans that they’re also responsible for the poor economy…. – CBS News, 9-8-11
- Bachmann Says Obama Jobs Plan Nothing New: Republican congresswoman and 2012 presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has called President Obama’s address just another political speech, with no new proposals…. – Voice of America, 9-8-11
- For Obama, a ‘Moment’ Speech at a Time of Great Obstacles to Change: Thursday’s address on job creation, coming as the prospect of a double-dip recession looms, seemed to be a chance for President Obama to galvanize the nation and persuade his adversaries…. – NYT, 9-8-11
- Obama the aggressive: President Barack Obama delivers a speech to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011. Watching are Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)President Obama delivered a forceful call to action in a speech on jobs tonight to Congress, repeatedly employing rhetoric that sounded like the early stages of his 2012 campaign stump speech.
Many of the proposals in Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan had been previewed before he stepped in front of a joint session of Congress around 7 pm eastern time. But his aggressive tone was something new — and unexpected…. – WaPo, 9-8-11
- Don’t be shocked if Obama plan increases U.S. debt: “Everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything,” says President Obama. Perhaps it won’t shock you if this turns out to be wrong.
The job of paying or not paying for things will almost certainly be left up to the joint panel known as the supercommittee, which faces a Nov. 23 deadline. But Obama kept saying to Congress, you should pass this stimulus now. And there is a decent chance that the Republican-flavored components of the Obama plan will be passed by the full Congress in the next few weeks.
Extend and expand the payroll tax cut. Give tax credits to companies that hire the unemployed. Throw in some public infrastructure spending and you could get a $300 billion or $400 billion stimulus passed by Congress and signed in to law by mid October. Then you tell the supercommitee: OK, go pay for it with future program cuts and tax increases…. – Baltimore Sun, 9-8-11
- Social Media Gears Up for Obama Address: While the Republican Party will not deliver a formal response to President Obama’s job speech on Thursday, some members of Congress and Republican presidential candidates will be turning to Twitter to get their message across. … – NYT, 9-8-11
- Obama Offers $447B Stimulus Plan to Spur Jobs: President Barack Obama called on Congress to pass a jobs plan that would inject $447 billion into the economy through infrastructure spending, subsidies to local governments to stem teacher layoffs and cutting in half the payroll taxes paid by workers and small-business owners.
The package is heavily geared toward tax cuts, which account for more than half the dollar value of the stimulus, and administration officials said they believe that will have the greatest appeal to Republican members of Congress…. – Bloomberg, 9-8-11
- Ron Paul boycotts President Obama’s speech: Texas congressman Ron Paul said Thursday that he will not attend President Obama’s address before a Joint Session of Congress.
Mr. Paul’s campaign spokesman Gary Howard confirmed Wednesday that the Texas congressman “doesn’t plan on going” to the address, adding that Mr. Paul will remain on the campaign trail, where he is currently running for the Republican presidential nomination…. – The State Column, 9-8-11
- Sen. David Vitter will sit out President Barack Obama’s speech: He is one of five members, all Republicans, who are planning to skip the president’s address to a Joint Session of Congress…. – NOLA, 9-8-11
- Who’s Sitting With the First Lady: A sushi chef, a third-grade teacher facing a layoff and an Iraq war veteran are among the two dozen guests who will be seated with Michelle Obama on Thursday night when President Obama lays out his jobs plan before a joint session of Congress.
Several small-business executives, as well as members of the president’s jobs council, and the mayors of Cincinnati and Los Angeles will also sit in Mrs. Obama’s box…. – NYT, 9-8-11
- Obama appeals to Congress to pass American Jobs Act: President Obama on Thursday night will appeal to Congress to “stop the political circus” and help him get the economy moving again with a package of spending and tax cut initiatives expected to cost $447 billion…. – CBS News, 9-8-11
- Obama to Lay Out $450 Billion Jobs Plan in Prime-Time Speech: Seeking to boost a slumping economy along with his hopes for re-election, President Obama is unveiling his $450 billion jobs plan Thursday night in a highly-anticipated speech to a joint session of Congress. The American Jobs Act contains a blend of … – Fox News, 9-8-11
- Obama Jobs Plan: $447 Billion, More Than Half In Tax Cuts, To Be Paid For By Super Committee: Hoping to stem the tide of poor economic news and boost his falling poll numbers, President Barack Obama will propose a $447 billion jobs plan to Congress on Thursday evening. Titled the American Jobs Act…. – Huff Post, 9-8-11
- Obama to push Congress to end ‘circus,’ act now on economy: President Barack Obama waves during a Labor Day event Monday at General Motors headquarters in Detroit. WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will ask lawmakers to “stop the political circus” and approve his plan to help the economy by cutting payroll tax…. – MSNBC, 9-8-11
- Obama Jobs Plan Unlikely to Create Many: New numbers from the Labor Department today showed that new jobless claims are again inching back upward, last week by 2000. Last week’s unemployment report showed net job growth to be stuck at zero…. – U.S. News & World Report, 9-8-11
“We want specifics. We want to hear that he understands the impact, the heavy wet blanket that regulations are on our job creators. We need to make it easier and cheaper for the private sector to create jobs and it seems what comes out of the White House makes it harder and more expensive to create private sector jobs.” — Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyoming
“No one blames the president for the economy he inherited, but he should take responsibility for his policies making it worse. Republicans are ready to work with the president and to make it easier and cheaper to create private sector jobs. We’ve suggested a number of ways to do that: lower tax rates with fewer loopholes, fewer regulations.” — Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee
“It’s a $112 billion cost and it’s also something that, in my view, is a very short term sort of sugar high, maybe get a very little economy pop in the near term but we ought to be focused on long term policies that will promote economic growth.” — Senator John Thune, R-South Dakota
“Well it depends on whether it’s conglomerated with a whole bunch of other things we can’t support. Most of us are for tax cuts and that would amount to a tax cut.” — Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah
POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES
President Obama presented a jobs plan to a joint session of Congress on Thursday night in the Capitol.
American Jobs Act: Get the Facts
Viewers who tuned in to watch it live-streamed from whitehouse.gov/live got an enhanced experience, one that included real time graphic elements that explained the research and the facts that helped inform some of aspects of the American Jobs Act. And now you can watch it that way, too.
The American Jobs Act
To create more jobs now, the President is sending Congress the American Jobs Act – a set of ideas supported by both Democrats and Republicans that Congress must pass right away. The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: put more people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans. Here’s how:
- First, it provides a tax cut for small businesses, not big corporations, to help them hire and expand now, and provides an additional tax cut to any business that hires or increases wages.
- Second, it puts more people back to work, including up to 280,000 teachers laid off by state-budget cuts, first responders and veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and construction workers repairing crumbling bridges, roads and more than 35,000 public schools, with projects chosen by need and impact, not earmarks and politics. And, it expands job opportunities for hundreds of thousands of low-income youth and adults through a new Pathways Back to Work Fund that supports summer and year round jobs for youth; innovative new job training programs to connect low-income workers to jobs quickly; and successful programs to encourage employers to bring on disadvantaged workers.
- Third, it helps out-of-work Americans by extending unemployment benefits to help them support their families while looking for work and reforming the system with training programs that build real skills, connect to real jobs and help the long-term unemployed. It bans employers from discriminating against the unemployed when hiring, and provides a new tax credit to employers hiring workers who have been out of a job for over 6 months.
- Fourth, it puts more money in the pockets of working and middle class Americans by cutting in half the payroll tax that comes out of every worker’s paycheck, saving families an average of $1,500 a year’ and taking executive action to remove the barriers that exist in the current federal refinancing program (HARP) to help more Americans refinance their mortgages at historically low rates, save money and stay in their homes.
- Last, the plan won’t add a dime to the deficit and is fully paid for through a balanced deficit reduction plan that includes closing corporate tax loopholes and asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.
As the President said, “The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours. The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy. The question is — the question is whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.”
Later, he said, “Now, the American Jobs Act answers the urgent need to create jobs right away. But we can’t stop there. As I’ve argued since I ran for this office, we have to look beyond the immediate crisis and start building an economy that lasts into the future — an economy that creates good, middle-class jobs that pay well and offer security. We now live in a world where technology has made it possible for companies to take their business anywhere. If we want them to start here and stay here and hire here, we have to be able to out-build and out-educate and out-innovate every other country on Earth.”
The President concluded the speech by saying, “Regardless of the arguments we’ve had in the past, regardless of the arguments we will have in the future, this plan is the right thing to do right now. You should pass it. And I intend to take that message to every corner of this country. And I ask — I ask every American who agrees to lift your voice: Tell the people who are gathered here tonight that you want action now. Tell Washington that doing nothing is not an option. Remind us that if we act as one nation and one people, we have it within our power to meet this challenge.
President Kennedy once said, ‘Our problems are man-made –- therefore they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants.’
These are difficult years for our country. But we are Americans. We are tougher than the times we live in, and we are bigger than our politics have been. So let’s meet the moment. Let’s get to work, and let’s show the world once again why the United States of America remains the greatest nation on Earth. ”
For more information on the American Jobs Act, click here.