News / USA

Stakes Are High as Obama Prepares Economic Plan

President Barack Obama walks to the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, August 31, 2011.
President Barack Obama walks to the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, August 31, 2011.
Kent Klein

President Barack Obama will go before a joint session of Congress and a nationwide television audience next Thursday, September 8 to announce his plan to boost the struggling U.S. economy. The president’s chances of being re-elected could depend on the outcome.

With the economy stagnating and unemployment hovering around nine percent, the president said recently said he will unveil a plan to put more Americans to work.

“I will be laying out a series of steps that Congress can take immediately to put more money in the pockets of working families and middle-class families, to make it easier for small businesses to hire people, to put construction crews to work rebuilding our nation’s roads and railways and airports, and all the other measures that can help to grow this economy,” said Obama.

Opinion polls

Recent public opinion polls show that Obama’s job approval rating has sunk to about 44 percent, one of the lowest rates of his presidency.  Almost two-thirds of those surveyed [65 percent] say they are not happy with the way he is handling the economy.

As a result, other polls indicate that the president could be vulnerable in the November, 2012 presidential election.

Partially because of political concerns, there has been disagreement within the West Wing and around Washington on how aggressive Obama’s job creation proposals should be.

White House officials are said to be considering including job training programs for long-term unemployed, tax cuts for middle-income Americans, and tax breaks for businesses that hire workers. The program also may contain new spending to rebuild schools, bridges, roads and other infrastructure.

Free-trade agreements

In addition, Obama is expected to continue to call on Congress to approve pending free-trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea.

The president and his aides describe their plan as a reasonable initiative that should be acceptable to opposition Republicans.

“These are bipartisan ideas that ought to be the kind of proposals that everybody can get behind, no matter what your political affiliation might be. So my hope and expectation is that we can put country before party and get something done for the American people,” he said.

But Representative Joe Walsh, from the central state of Illinois, said it is not likely that the president will propose anything that he and his fellow Republicans could endorse.

“In general, I think it is going to be more stimulus, more government expenditures, more government borrowing to try to stimulate the economy, and, look, it has failed for three years. We need the opposite of what the president has done, not more of the same.”

Republican critics

Republicans are expected to campaign instead for tax cuts and and a freeze on some government regulations on businesses.

Because Republicans are not expected to support the president’s plan, some political analysts say Obama should propose a sweeping package of legislation.

Larry Sabato, the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said “The president should probably go big, because the truth is that he is not going to get anything passed whether it is big or small. So he might as well sound as though his plan is grand and that it would have a big impact if the Republicans passed it. But nothing is going to happen, and that is obvious to everybody.”

Roger Hickey, the co-director of a liberal advocacy group called the Campaign For America’s Future, also wants the president to put forth a bold plan.

“If he simply focuses on what will pass the Republican Congress, he will look to the American people like he does not think it is the crisis that they feel it is.”

Even the routine scheduling of the president’s address to Congress became mired in partisan disagreement. Obama asked House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner to allow him to speak in the House chamber next Wednesday night, at the same time as a televised debate among Republican presidential candidates, some of whom are members of Congress.

The speaker rejected the request, and offered to let the president speak the following night, when the National Football League season begins. The administration accepted the offer.

One lawmaker who will not be in the House chamber on Thursday night is Republican Representative Walsh, who said the speech will be nothing more than a political show.

“He is trying to create the impression that he is a leader, and I just will not be a prop in this play of his. I am not going to attend the joint session. I am going to fly home that night and hold a town hall with the real job creators in this country, small business men and women.”

State of the economy

Some people in Washington say this speech may be the most important of President Obama’s career. But Sabato said it’s the state of the economy that will determine whether Obama is re-elected in 2012.

“The only thing that will affect the president’s re-election is whether the economy actually gets better, not whether speeches are given about the economy getting better.”

The administration’s Office of Management and Budget is forecasting that the unemployment rate will linger around nine percent through next year. However, the president’s press secretary, Jay Carney, said passage of Obama’s jobs plan would help reduce that number.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
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.

AppleAndroid