Obama to give major jobs speech next month
The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, August 17, 2011 7:26AM EDT
WASHINGTON - Seeking a jolt for a wilting economy, President Barack Obama will give a major speech in early September to unveil new ideas for speeding up job growth and helping the struggling poor and middle class, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.
The president's plan is likely to contain tax cuts, jobs-boosting infrastructure ideas and steps that would specifically help the long-term unemployed. The official emphasized that all of Obama's proposals would be fresh ones, not a rehash of plans he has pitched for many weeks and still supports, including his "infrastructure bank" idea to finance construction jobs.
On a significant and related front, Obama will also present a specific plan to cut the suffocating long-term national debt and to pay for the cost of his new short-term economic ideas.
His debt proposal will be bigger than the $1.5 trillion package that a new "supercommittee" of Congress must come up with by late November.
The president will then spend his fall publicly pressing Congress to take action as the economic debate roars into its next phase. Both the economic ideas and the plan to pay for them will be part of Obama's speech, although the address will focus mainly on the jobs components.
The president's speech is expected right after the Sept. 5 Labor Day holiday.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because Obama has not yet disclosed his plans.
No final decisions on the economic package have been made.
Seeking re-election in a dispiriting economic time for the nation, Obama's rollout plan allows him to come into September swinging after one of the roughest periods of his presidency.
Obama has hinted about new economic ideas for days as the Republican presidential contenders take whacks as his record. Obama's economic team has been hashing out the new package since he and Congress struck a last-minute debt deal in late July to prevent a debilitating government default.
Obama has been rumbling through the Midwest all week, lobbying the locals along the way to help him pressure a divided Congress into working with him. He has one day of his bus tour left on Wednesday before returning to Washington and heading on a vacation with his family.
Come September, Obama will try to reframe the jobs debate and press lawmakers to act on his ideas. And, since he is almost sure to face political opposition from Republicans, particularly the leadership of the House, he is already preparing to lobby the American public for support if Congress tosses his ideas aside.
As the leader of the country, Obama is under unparalleled pressure to start showing more economic progress. His own job is expected to depend on it.
Nearly 14 million people are unemployed. Many millions more have given up looking for jobs or haven't found a way to move from part-time to full-time work.
The administration official would not offer details about the tax cuts Obama is likely to propose for the middle class.
They are expected to be separate from the extension of the payroll tax cut for employees that Obama has lobbied for by the day. Obama also has promoted a familiar list of other ideas, including patent reform and three major trade deals. And he has pushed for longer benefits for the chronically unemployed.
As for debt reduction, Obama is trying to have some say over the highly influential committee charged with recommending major changes fast.
That 12-person panel of Republicans and Democrats will start work in September on coming up with -- by Nov. 23 -- $1.5 trillion in savings over the coming decades. If not, or if Congress fails to approve the committee's plans, automatic spending cuts that both parties oppose would kick in across the government.
Obama's plan will be bigger. By how much isn't clear, but he has already envisioned $4 trillion in cuts over a slightly longer period of time.
He was in serious talks with House Speaker John Boehner during the recent, wrenching talks over a similar big package, between $3 trillion and $4 trillion. And those talks had included the potential for economic help like the payroll tax cut extension; Obama's new plan is likely to follow similar form.
Without offering any specifics about his plans, the president has been telling audiences he will get detailed in September, and then fight it out.
"My attitude is, get it done," he said in one Iowa town hall on Monday. "And if they (lawmakers) don't get it done, then we'll be running against a Congress that's not doing anything for the American people, and the choice will be very stark and will be very clear."
The economy has rebounded from a deep recession Obama inherited, but growth and hopes have stalled.
The unemployment rate is at 9.1 per cent. No president in recent history has been re-elected with a jobless rate nearly that high.