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President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress and the nation on Thursday night, asking for $447 billion to focus on jobs creation. The proposal, titled the “American Jobs Act,” includes more than $250 billion in tax incentives for small businesses and employers.
The administration would spend the rest of the money on infrastructure spending, state aid, unemployment insurance and neighborhood rehabilitation. According to the President, the proposal will be paid for by spending cuts found by the super committee. Senior administration officials said that the White House plans to introduce the president’s proposal next week as a single piece of legislation.
“I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away,” Obama said in his evening speech. “There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans — including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything.”
President Obama, clearly on the offensive, stated he would push this bill outside of D.C. as well. “I intend to take that message to every corner of this country,” Obama said. “I also ask every American who agrees to lift your voice and tell the people who are gathered here tonight that you want action now.
Tell Washington that doing nothing is not an option.” In all, Obama said the phrase “pass this jobs bill” eight times in his speech. In the end of his speech, Obama called for Congress to close special interest tax loopholes as one way to cover the cost of the jobs bill. “This isn’t political grandstanding,” he said. “This isn’t class warfare. This is simple math. These are real choices that we have to make.”
The president’s suggested spending totals are much smaller than the economy’s actual needs. The country faces a $2 trillion infrastructure deficit, according to Obama’s top advisers. There is an estimated $270 billion to $500 billion in backlogged school maintenance costs. The government has cut over 200,000 jobs, many of them teachers and emergency first responders.
The outlines were still heralded by Democrats as an important start, as well as a much-needed shift in a political conversation that has been dominated by budget cuts.