News / USA

Congressional Reaction Mixed to Obama Economic Proposals

President Barack Obama delivers a speech to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington. Watching are Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner, September 8, 2011
President Barack Obama delivers a speech to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington. Watching are Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner, September 8, 2011

Congressional reaction has been mixed to President Barack Obama's plan to give a jolt to the stalled U.S. economy and create jobs.  Democrats reacted enthusiastically to the president's proposals to rebuild old and decaying bridges and highways and to help struggling homeowners refinance their mortgages.  Republicans say they may be able to work with the president on some aspects of the plan, but many expressed doubt that the whole package will be approved.  

The president's speech laying out his "American Jobs Act" came as opinion polls show most Americans have lost faith in politicians' ability to do anything to bring down the nation's stubbornly high unemployment rate.

During the speech to a joint session of Congress, Democratic lawmakers stood up and applauded heartily when the president talked about providing funding to local governments so that teachers do not lose their jobs, and when he talked about strengthening workers' collective bargaining rights.

Republicans rarely rose to their feet, but they stood up and cheered when Obama called on Congress to approve trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea - a moment when most Democrats remained seated and stonefaced.

Some Democrats had called before the speech for the president to "be bold" and to stop focusing on reaching out to Republicans. Most Democrats seemed happy with the $447 billion plan that includes extending the payroll tax for workers and extending unemployment benefits.

Democratic Representative Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri echoed the sentiments of many when he said he liked the fiery tone of President Obama's address.

"Clearly the people around the country are excited about something like this, and frankly the tone the president took tonight.  I mean, he stood up and was very tough about where he was wanting to take the country, and I think a lot of people wanted to see that," Cleaver said.

Over and over again during the speech, President Obama challenged Congress to pass the jobs plan now, saying most Americans cannot wait 14 months until the 2012 elections.  Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland agreed.

"I also liked his insistence and his sense of urgency.  People are hurting.  They want results, and they want results now," Mikulski said.

The response from Republicans was more subdued.  Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said the plan merits consideration, and urged to the president to also carefully consider alternative ideas proposed by Republicans.  

Republican Representative Darrell Issa of California said the basic ideological differences between Democrats and Republicans are still there.

"I am perfectly willing to support the president in tax reform, but ultimately government reduction was something he basically said 'No way,' that the kinds of cuts that we are envisioning that get government off people's backs he is only giving lip service to," Issa said.

Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa said he did not believe the whole bill would pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

"I am really doubtful if there is going to be a movement in this House to pick up a package.  There might be a couple of things that we could try to lift out of it.  I am not sure what they are at this point," King said.

President Obama said he would send the American Jobs Act to Congress next week, and vowed to travel to "every corner" of the country to take his case to the American people.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs