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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

Why Europe and the US may be "whistling past the graveyard?" More

Egyptian Court Jails 23 Pro-Morsi Supporters

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say gunmen have killed two members of the country's security forces More

Pakistani Journalists Protest Shooting of Colleague

Hamid Mir, a host for private television channel Geo, was wounded after being shot three times Saturday, but is expected to survive 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid