From Fox News
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.
Obama also called on Congress to “stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy.”
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.
The president’s plan would also spend $25 billion on school infrastructure to modernize at least 35,000 public schools, including spending on computer labs and on emergency repairs. He would spend an additional $35 billion to prevent layoffs of up to 280,000 teachers and support the hiring of thousands more.
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.
Obama’s plan strikes the “right balance” and contains the “right mix” of elements to get people back working again, an official said. But the officials added there’s no “magic here.”
Republicans didn’t rule out support for Obama’s plan but noted that they had their own proposals too.
“The proposals the president outlined tonight merit consideration,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. “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.”
Obama wanted to convey a deep sense of urgency about the economy in his speech and try to back Republicans into a corner, said top Democrats who spoke to the president about his speech.
But top Republicans wonder why it took nearly three years to convey this urgency. They suspect the timing has more to do with the president now trying to save his own job.
“The president’s so-called jobs plan is to try those very same policies again and then accuse anyone who doesn’t support them this time around of being political or overtly partisan, of not doing what’s needed in this moment of crisis,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. “This isn’t a jobs plan. It’s a re-election plan.”
A key audience is the all-important independent voters who helped elected the president in 2008 but have been fleeing. One year ago, 40 percent of independents approved of his job performance. Now it’s down to 31 percent, according to the latest Fox News poll.
The president is gambling that since Congress has an approval rating of only 10 percent, Republicans will feel election pressure to work with him. But passage of the plan may rest on how the president plans to pay for it.