News / USA

Obama Calls for 'Balanced Plan' of Spending Cuts, Tax Reform

President Barack Obama delivers a speech to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington,  Sept. 8, 2011
President Barack Obama delivers a speech to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 8, 2011

President Barack Obama has urged a joint session of the U.S. Congress to end what he calls the "political circus" in Washington, and move rapidly to approve job creation legislation he is sending to Capitol Hill.

The president designed his speech to substantially raise the stakes in his struggle with Republicans over how to address stubborn 9.1 percent unemployment, and continue to fix the nation's fiscal woes.

Urged by fellow Democrats to put forward the boldest possible proposals, he unveiled a legislative package estimated at $450 billion, including extended payroll tax cuts for workers and employers, and incentives for businesses to hire.

As a spending bill, what he is calling The American Jobs Act would be considered and voted on first by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Mr. Obama says it would provide a jolt to a stalled economy.

"I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away.  It’s called the American Jobs Act.  There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation.  Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans - including many who sit here tonight.  And everything in this bill will be paid for.  Everything," Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama's speech came after months of difficult political battles with Republicans over how to lower government deficits and the $14 trillion national debt.

A compromise this past July provided for $1 trillion in spending cuts linked to raising the national debt ceiling, but also led to a harmful downgrading of the government's credit rating.

Mr. Obama made a point of underscoring past bipartisan support for proposals in his jobs package. And he called on Democrats and Republicans to end the political warfare to put people back to work and the economy back on track.

"The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities.  The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours.  The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy; whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning," Mr. Obama said.

Key aspects include proposals to rebuild and modernize U.S. infrastructure and schools, financial aid to cash-poor state and local governments, job training to help the long-term unemployed, and steps to encourage hiring of military veterans.

Mr. Obama said the wealthiest Americans and large corporations should pay more through elimination of tax loopholes, and repeated his call for a balanced plan that would include "modest adjustments" in expensive government health care programs.

The president plans to send Congress a more ambitious plan in 10 days that will include the cost of his jobs proposal and steps to stabilize the U.S. debt in the long run.

And he is asking the bipartisan congressional committee created by the debt and deficit deal to find more than the $1.5 trillion in additional savings it is tasked with identifying.

In initial reaction, Republican House Speaker John Boehner said Mr. Obama's proposals "merit consideration" adding that he hopes the president gives serious consideration to Republican proposals. Other Republicans had harsher assessments.

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch voiced skepticism, but said he would wait for details of the plan.

"I'm going to give it a good look and hopefully support the president, but right now it looks to me like more of the same," Hatch said.

Statements from key Democratic leaders praised the president, saying he had laid out reasonable proposals to tackle unemployment that will be paid for as part of broader debt and deficit reduction efforts.

In his address, Mr. Obama said while some lawmakers might feel differences can be resolved only through the ballot box, Americans "living paycheck to paycheck" need a Congress that will act now.

"Know this:  the next election is fourteen months away.  And the people who sent us here - the people who hired us to work for them - they don’t have the luxury of waiting fourteen months," the president said.

The president said he will be traveling in coming weeks to urge public support for his jobs proposal, and to urge Americans to tell Congress that "doing nothing is not an option."

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs