U.S. President Barack Obama is proposing a series of initiatives intended to put more Americans to work. The president's plan focuses on small businesses, energy and the nation's highways and bridges.
President Obama says his administration has steered the U.S. economy away from what could have been a depression. But he says seven million Americans have lost jobs since the recession began two years ago.
"That is a staggering figure, and one that reflects not only the depths of the hole from which we must ascend, but also a continuing human tragedy," Mr. Obama said.
Mr. Obama (Tuesday) went to the Brookings Institution, a Washington policy study institute, and outlined a three-part strategy to ease the nation's 10 percent jobless rate.
First, the president proposed deepening the tax cuts for small businesses included in his $787 billion Recovery Act. He said entrepreneurs have created about 65 percent of America's new jobs in the past 15 years.
"These are also companies that drive innovation, producing 13 times more patents per employee than large companies," Mr. Obama said. "And it is worth remembering, every once in a while a small business becomes a big business and changes the world."
Next, Mr. Obama called for an unspecified amount of new spending for infrastructure projects - work on roads, bridges, water systems, broadband networks and so-called clean energy projects.
"These are needed public works that engage private sector companies, spurring hiring across the country," Mr. Obama said. "Already more than 10,000 of these projects have been funded through the Recovery Act."
And the president said he will ask Congress for new incentives for consumers to make their homes more energy-efficient.
"…which we know creates jobs, saves money for families and reduces the pollution that threatens our environment," Mr. Obama said.
White House officials say some of the aid to small businesses could come from money originally set aside to stabilize the financial system and persuade banks to lend again.
The president credits the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, with helping to prevent a collapse of the financial system. But he says it is time for the program to be discontinued.
"Launched hastily, understandably but hastily, under the last administration, the TARP program was flawed, and we have worked hard to correct those flaws and manage it properly," Mr. Obama said. "And today, TARP has served its original purpose and at a much lower cost than we expected."
The Treasury Department says it expects to get back $200 billion in bank bailout money more quickly than expected. Mr. Obama suggests this money could help pay for his new job creation programs and possibly reduce the nation's $12 trillion debt.