Obama's jobs plan: Spending, tax cuts

Sept. 7, 2011 at 3:51 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. President Obama's jobs plan could top $200 billion in infrastructure investments and tax cuts but includes ways to pay for the programs, aides said.

People knowledgeable about the deliberations said Obama's plan, to be delivered Thursday during a joint session of Congress, may consist of spending on programs that would extend aid to state and local governments for teacher retention and school facility rehabilitation, as well as put construction workers to work retrofitting commercial buildings to make them greener, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The plan also will include tax cuts -- including an extension of a payroll tax cut enacted in January -- and tax incentives for companies hiring unemployed workers, the aides said, as well as new aid for the long-term unemployed.

Others familiar with the deliberations said mortgage relief for struggling homeowners, through a refinancing option, also is being considered.

The total package is likely to cost more than $200 billion, the Post said. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama's plan will include ways to pay for the programs and is consistent with his commitment to reducing the country's debt and deficit.

Obama and his aides have started briefing allies and lawmakers on the key elements of the plan although they are not going into details, people familiar with the conversations said.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said he thinks the plan has the "right combination" of spending and savings to have a chance of passing the Republican-led House.

"It would have been a mistake to try and narrow the bore of the speech to the point that it might get out of the Republican-controlled Congress," Van Hollen said. "That might be a very short speech. What the president wants to do is tell the country what he thinks is necessary and to fight to get as much as possible."

Some Democrats, however, say Obama's effort to revive the economy by the 2012 elections may be too late. However, they still want him to challenge Congress to move an aggressive new jobs plan.

"The president has to bring forward a bold proposal. He can't start the process by negotiating with himself," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind-Vt., who caucuses with Democrats. "He needs to say, 'If we do A, B and C, we can create millions of new jobs,' and take it to the American people."

Republicans already are criticizing what they anticipate will be Obama's approach to reinvigorating the economy and job growth, Politico reported.

During a news conference Wednesday, Senate Republicans blamed President Obama for not sending to Congress three stalled free-trade agreements and said the economic situation had worsened under his administration.

"We don't blame the president for problems he inherited, but we do believe he ought to accept responsibility for making our economy worse," Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said. "Unemployment is worse. Housing is down and debt is up. The number of jobs lost is worse. And part of the problem is the president's own policies have thrown a big, wet blanket over job creation in America."

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