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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More