WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will roll out a jobs package on Thursday that strives to lift the ailing economy through $300 billion worth of tax credits, and $300 Billion in new cuts. The jobs package will include school renovation projects, job training for the unemployed and a program to prevent teacher layoffs, according to a person familiar with the administration’s plans.
In his speech before a joint session of Congress, Obama also will ask lawmakers to renew the 2 percent payroll tax cut that was approved last December and to extend jobless benefits, said the person, who requested anonymity to talk more freely about White House internal deliberations.
The White House would not confirm specifically what is in the plan. And details could change as White House advisers fine-tune the package.
The address being written by chief White House speechwriter Jon Favreau looms as one of the most important of Obama’s presidency. Unemployment stands at 9.1 percent and the fragile economic recovery appears to have stalled.
A new wave of polling this week shows that people are deeply pessimistic about the country’s future and dissatisfied with Obama’s management of the economy.
A survey by The Washington Post-ABC News showed that 77 percent believe the country is on the wrong track.
Obama is under pressure from his Democratic base to submit a “bold” package that would put a real dent in the jobless rate — and revive his re-election prospects.
To the extent he follows this advice, though, he risks alienating Republicans and even conservative Democrats who want to avoid anything that smacks of another expensive stimulus package.
Briefing reporters on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that impartial economists will conclude that the new jobs plan would “have a direct, quick and positive impact on the economy and job creation.”
Carney also said the package would be “paid for,” not financed through deficit spending.
Whether it can pass the Republican-controlled House is no sure thing. Obama has said the jobs plan would include ideas that Republicans have traditionally embraced. One such proposal is a tax credit for businesses that hire new workers, an idea that fits within Republican economic doctrine. But the level of polarization in Congress doesn’t bode well for any new presidential initiatives.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky gave a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday predicting that Obama would unveil ideas that “represent more of the same failed approach that’s only made things worse over the past few years.”
The top-ranking House Republican leaders, meantime, sent Obama a letter Tuesday asking him to meet with congressional leaders of both parties and discuss his jobs package before laying it out in a nationally televised speech.
An aide to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said that in crafting the jobs package, the White House has not consulted Boehner.