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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora