News / USA

Obama Plans Jobs Speech to Congress Next Week

US President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 25, 2011 (file photo)
US President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 25, 2011 (file photo)

U.S. President Barack Obama says he will announce plans to promote jobs and economic growth in a speech to Congress on September 8.

In a sign of continued fraught relations between the two political parties, the date for the speech was only settled Wednesday after a public disagreement with Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in the House of Representatives.

Mr. Obama, a Democrat, had asked congressional leaders to call a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives for the speech on September 7.  But shortly after his request was made public, House Speaker Boehner responded asking Mr. Obama to postpone his remarks by a day.

Boehner said it would be logistically difficult to approve the joint session of Congress in time for a speech next Wednesday after a recess.  

Mr. Obama agreed to Boehner's proposal a few hours later, saying he is focused on "the urgent need" to create jobs and economic growth, and he looks forward to challenging congressional leaders to "start focusing 100% of their attention" on helping the American people.

The statement also said that Speaker Boehner had been consulted about the speech timing before the September 7 date was announced.

Mr. Obama's proposed time would have coincided with a scheduled televised debate among Republican presidential contenders.  The September 8 time slot means Mr. Obama will be speaking at the same time as the nationally-televised first official game of the American football season.

The president says he will announce in the speech what he called "bipartisan proposals" that Congress could immediately enact. The sluggish American economy is still reeling from the global economic downturn of 2008 and 2009, with about 14 million U.S. workers unemployed and millions more working part-time or in jobs they consider beneath their skill levels.

Mr. Obama's re-election chances next year may largely hinge on the nation's economic fortunes. He said lawmakers in Washington need to "put aside politics and start making decisions based on what is best for our country" and not political considerations.

News accounts say Mr. Obama may propose tax credits for companies that hire more workers, and possibly new spending for repairing schools and other public infrastructure.  His plans are likely, however, to encounter stiff opposition from Republicans who oppose more government spending.  They say too many federal regulations are hindering U.S. job growth and are proposing legislation to limit the scope of the restrictions.

Republican candidates seeking to oust Mr. Obama from the White House say he has mismanaged the American economy, the world's largest.

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