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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs