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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease 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.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid