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 Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

At Boston Bombing Hearing, Sides Spar Over Boat

At final pre-trial hearing, lawyers for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, prosecutors disagree on whether vessel where he hid from police can be shown to jurors More

Iran Judiciary 'Picks' Lawyer for Detained WP Reporter

Masoud Shafii has been attempting to secure official recognition as Rezaian’s attorney, but is not allowed to see his client in prison 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More