News / USA

Obama to Propose American Jobs Act

President Barack Obama (file photo)
President Barack Obama (file photo)
Kent Klein

U.S. President Barack Obama will go before a joint session of Congress Thursday night to unveil his ideas for creating jobs and boosting the nation’s stagnant economy.  

President Obama’s American Jobs Act is estimated to cost at least $300 billion. It is intended to help people who are looking for jobs, people trying to keep their jobs and businesses trying to create jobs.

It might also affect whether Obama keeps his job after next year's presidential election.

White House Chief of Staff William Daley says the plan includes new ideas and can help relieve the country’s economic pain, if lawmakers will approve it. He was interviewed by Matt Lauer on NBC television’s Today program.

“These ideas, some of them, have been talked about," said Daley. "But they are, as a package, as an act, if Congress will act now, a way to help people. That is what the president is committed to do.”

Daley said the plan would not require more government borrowing. He suggested that some of the money would come from more taxes on wealthier Americans.

Republicans, who hold a majority in the House of Representatives and a sizeable minority in the Senate, have rejected almost all of Obama’s previous economic initiatives.

The top Senate Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, says the initiative will simply reintroduce the president’s failed economic policies.

“By any measure, including his own, the stimulus and the economic principles it was built on have been a failure," said McConnell. "And that is the reason so many people are skeptical of the president’s economic proposals. They do not work as advertised.”

But House of Representatives Speaker, Republican John Boehner says he will listen to the president’s speech with an open mind.

“I am hopeful that after the president gives his speech, we will be able to sit down in a bipartisan way and find common ground that will help improve our economy and improve the job picture for the American people,” he said.

The Jobs Act is said to include renewed financial help for long-term unemployed workers.  Other provisions reportedly include tax cuts for workers and employers as well as a tax break for businesses that hire more workers.

Obama is also expected to propose more spending to repair the nation's crumbling roads, bridges and schools.

With about 14 million Americans unemployed and the U.S. economy barely growing, the president’s approval ratings have sunk to the lowest point of his tenure.

The number of jobless people seeking government financial assistance was slightly higher last week than the week before. The government said 414,000 people sought their first unemployment compensation, suggesting that hiring has stalled.  

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