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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs