Bold Ideas Wanted in Obama Jobs Speech
Joining fellow members of Congress, U.S. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., is eager to hear President Barack Obama’s jobs plan Thursday night, which could entail at least $300 billion in tax cuts and federal aid to local communities. The proposal is being called “The American Jobs Act” and includes a two percent payroll tax cut, extending unemployment benefits and spending $100 billion on infrastructure projects. It is expected Mr. Obama will put an emphasis on states hit hardest by the recession and cities still dealing with a sluggish economy.
Yarmuth says some parts of the proposal won’t be able to pass the Republican-controlled House, but he hopes certain elements and ideas will be enacted.
“I think the president has to be decisive and I think he has to be—the term is probably overused—bold. And I think he needs to make sure that the American people understand the choices that we have and the absolute necessity of moving in a certain direction,” he says.
The White House has begun promoting the plan, but the it is facing opposition before the president even addresses a joint session of Congress, with some GOP lawmakers vowing to boycott the speech altogether.
Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., slammed the jobs act as a “re-election plan.”
“It’s time the president start thinking less about how to describe his policies differently and more time thinking about devising new policies,” says McConnell. “And he might start by working with Congress, instead of writing in secret, without any consultation with Republicans, a plan that the White House is calling bipartisan.”
The bitter partisanship makes any proposal an uphill battle, but Yarmuth says a group of Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to the White House suggesting the president be more forceful.
“There are those of us who had wished he had done more, we wanted a stimulus package two years ago that was balanced much more in favor of infrastructure projects. Republicans in Congress demanded that a good portion of that stimulus package go to tax cuts for the American people, which they did and unfortunately that hasn’t resulted in the kind of job creation that any of us would want,” he says.
The president will speak before a joint session of Congress tonight at 8 p.m. eastern.