After weeks of speculations, President Obama presented his “Jobs Plan” to Congress last night and made it clear that he wasn’t about those bipartisan games anymore.
In a speech to a joint session of Congress, Obama told the legislators to “stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy” by quickly approving the $447 billion package of measures so he can sign it into law.
“The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours,” Obama said to applause. “The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy. The question is whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.”
Obama also told legislators that they should quickly pass his plan, called the American Jobs Act.
“There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation,” the president said. “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.”
Obama said he will ask Congress to increase the $1.5 trillion target in deficit reduction being pursued by a special joint congressional committee to cover the cost of the American Jobs Act. He said he will propose his own deficit-reduction plan on September 19 that would reform entitlement programs such as Medicare while changing the tax system to end loopholes, lower the corporate tax rate and increase taxes for the wealthy.
In essence, Obama resurrected his push for a so-called “grand bargain” — a comprehensive deficit reduction package that includes all the drivers of government spending and deficits, including those traditionally favored and protected by both parties.
Republican reaction ranged from an expressed interest in trying to work out compromise to outright rejection and criticism of what was labeled a repeat of failed policies from the past.
House Speaker John Boehner, who backed out of talks with Obama on a major deficit reduction-deal deal earlier this year, said the proposals the president outlined “merit consideration,” and added that he hoped for serious consideration by the White House of Republican ideas.
“It’s my hope that we can work together to end the uncertainty facing families and small businesses, and create a better environment for long-term economic growth and private-sector job creation,” said Boehner, R-Ohio.
Conservative Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, was much more critical.
That doesn’t mean some Republicans still didn’t have something to say, as if one of their own didn’t get us in this situation to begin with, or try to fix it with Stimulus plans in the past.
“President Obama, perhaps not knowing what else to do, is simply calling for more of the same, as if giving us more of the failed policies of the last two-and-a-half years will somehow yield different results,” Kyl said in a statement. “I believe President Obama’s new ‘stimulus’ will further delay economic recovery and continue to inflict harm on so many Americans.”
The Senate’s top Democrat, meanwhile, said Obama’s proposal will present a “litmus test” for Republicans.
“I hope they (Republicans) will show the American people that they are more interested in creating jobs than defeating President Obama,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said in a statement. “Experts from the ratings agencies to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have said that political gridlock is the main obstacle standing in the way of our economic growth. It is time to put jobs and the economy ahead of partisan politics.”
What do you think of the President’s jobs plan? Do you think Congress will finally get their isht together and work for the rest of us on this?