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

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid