News / USA

Obama Jobs Plan Faces Congressional Hurdles

President Barack Obama delivers a speech about his new jobs plan to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., September 8, 2011.
President Barack Obama delivers a speech about his new jobs plan to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., September 8, 2011.
Michael Bowman

One week after U.S. President Barack Obama urged Congress to act swiftly to spur job creation and economic growth, bipartisan backing for his proposals has yet to materialize. The president’s package of temporary tax cuts and short-term additional federal spending faces daunting legislative hurdles.

In a nationally-televised address to Congress last Thursday, a feisty-sounding President Obama challenged lawmakers to take a break from partisan gridlock and unite to boost a sagging U.S. economy.

“There are steps we can take right now to improve people’s lives. I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away,” he said.

The $447-billion package would cut taxes paid by wage-earners, as well as businesses that hire new workers, extend government-provided jobless benefits, and boost federal spending on domestic infrastructure. Longer term, the administration wants to end corporate tax breaks and raise taxes on the wealthy.

In the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, Majority Leader Eric Cantor said he is willing to trim taxes, but opposes additional spending by a federal government already drowning in debt.

Cantor pointed out that an $878-billion stimulus plan enacted at the start of the Obama administration failed to bring U.S. unemployment below the current nine-percent range.

“The stimulus program was a failure. Why would we want to go do something like that again?” he asked.

That message is echoed by Republicans in the Senate, where the party is in the minority but can still block legislation. The ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, Jeff Sessions, said the Obama jobs plan would eradicate initial savings from last month’s contentious federal budget agreement.

“Should not we think very, very carefully about a new stimulus plan that would spend $450 billion, obliterating that [budget] savings?” said Sessions.

President Obama’s allies in Congress argue America’s fiscal woes will only worsen if the economy languishes and millions remain unemployed. Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts said, “We need [economic] growth, not just revenue and not just [spending] cuts. Any economist will tell us: creating jobs today helps reduce the deficit tomorrow.”

Democrats also argue that corporations and the wealthy who benefited from previous tax breaks should be willing to pay more now in order to spare the poor and middle class from further economic pain.

Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois said, “Those who are making the highest incomes in America should join with every other family in America and help us get beyond this recession.”

This week, Congress heard conflicting testimony from two well-known economists on the value of government spending during economic downturns. The head of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, appeared to back the Obama administration’s call for short-term stimulus combined with long-term fiscal austerity.

“To provide the greatest boost to economic activity now, and the medium and long term, the combination of fiscal policies likely to be most effective would be [to] cut taxes or increase spending in the near term. But over the longer term, move in the opposite direction and cut spending or raise taxes,” he said.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan had a very different message when discussing America’s debt burden.

“Our spending is already committed to more than we have the capacity of achieving. And unless and until we understand that our problem is spending, and not taxes, I think we will lead ourselves astray,” said Greenspan.

House Speaker John Boehner urged reducing government regulation, while also cutting federal taxes and spending.

House Majority Leader Cantor said partisan disagreements on how best to invigorate the economy will set the stage for next year’s general election.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia speaks with reporters about jobs, as Congress waits for President Barack Obama to submit the jobs plan, in his Capitol Hill office in Washington, D.C., September 12, 2011. (AP)
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia speaks with reporters about jobs, as Congress waits for President Barack Obama to submit the jobs plan, in his Capitol Hill office in Washington, D.C., September 12, 2011. (AP)

“Republicans and Democrats are not going to agree on everything. And maybe the issue of taxation and some other issues will have to be left for the election,” said Cantor.

The administration is urging Congress to hold up-or-down votes on the president’s entire jobs plan. But White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president will sign any portion that arrives on his desk.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid