Barack Obama is set to speak to the nation on Thursday to address the country’s dire jobs problem, but White House insiders say that the president’s plan to jump-start employment will cost upwards of $300 billion.
At a time when the country is digging deep in its pockets to make ends meets, President Obama’s proposal is expected to be one that will prove costly for the country. Should Congress give him the go-ahead, Obama’s initiative to revive the American workforce will cost hundreds of billions, sources say.
The Associated Press is reporting that insiders close to the president speaking on condition of anonymity believe that Thursday’s speech will cover a one-year extension of a payroll tax cut for workers and an extension on jobless benefits that would otherwise expire, among other matters. The AP reports that those two tasks alone would cost around $170 billion.
Elsewhere on Obama’s agenda is expected to be a tax credit for businesses that bring aboard the unemployed, which could cost close to $30 billion. Public works projects are also expected to be encouraged by Obama, at a cost of around $50 billion, sources say.
By building schools and adding construction jobs to the infrastructure, the president is aiming to decrease the unemployment rate back under 9 percent.But even with congressional approval, that road appears long and littered with obstacles. Earlier this month the White House said they aim to have an unemployment rate of 8.3 percent in 2012, but America will need to add around 200,000 jobs per month to the workforce in order to come close to that statistic.
The number of jobs added in August according to the Department of Labor: zero.
Bloomberg News is speculating that Obama will offset the $300 billion price tag by raising taxes in a deficit-cutting proposal that will be outlined in the days after he addresses Congress and the nation.
The White House has not offered any official comment on Obama’s plan, which he will deliver at 7pm ET on Thursday, September 8. Reuters has quoted White House spokesman Jay Carney as saying, however, “We need to do things that will have a direct impact in the short-term to grow the economy and create jobs, and the president will put forward proposals that will do just that.”
Some lawmakers, especially those on the right side of the aisle, have showed a lack of faith in Obama at turning the economy around this late in his administration. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) took to Twitter to tell his followers that he will sit-out tomorrow’s address, saying, “Instead of being a prop of another one of the president’s speeches, . . . I will fly home to IL to talk to real job creators.”
Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.)’s spokesperson told The Ticket that the representative will be watching the speech from the confines of his own office, only across the street from the Capitol where Obama will be speaking.
Responding to the array of absences, Carney tells The Washington Post that the White House views the refusal of many Republicans to attend as “regrettable.”
“What’s political is the decision not to attend,” says Carney. “The president is addressing a joint session of Congress to talk about the economy, the American economy — the need to grow the economy and create jobs. I think that’s a goal shared by Republicans of all political persuasions.”
Off the Hill, Americans are also reluctant to put much into Obama’s rhetoric. Recent polls conducted by Gallup, ABC News, NBC News and The Washington Post all reveal an all-time high disapproval rating for the commander-in-chief. Last month a CNN study showed that 84 percent of the country also disapproves with the recent job performance of Congress.
Even if Republicans and the greater public have lost faith in Obama as of late, the president seems confident that his plan has what it takes to revive the nation. Speaking to the Metro Detroit Central Labor Council during the three-day weekend, Obama said his proposal will include plans that previously both Democrats and Republicans have supported. Again, the president urged lawmakers to put aside posturing and “put country before party.”
“We’ve got more than 1 million unemployed construction workers ready to get dirty right now. There is work to be done and there are workers ready to do it. Labor’s on board, business is on board. We just need Congress to get on board,” said Obama.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told Bloomberg in the days before Obama visited the Motor City that it will take some strong action from the president to put faith back in the public sector. “American workers, whether they’re union or not union, are looking for leadership,” he said. “They don’t want excuses. They don’t want bipartisan crap.”
Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell tells Reuters he expects a lot out of the president during tomorrow’s address, but doesn’t think it’ll change much. “I have no doubt the president will propose many things on Thursday that, when looked at individually, sound pretty good, or that he’ll call them all bipartisan.
“I’m equally certain,” added McConnell, “that, taken as whole, they’ll represent more of the same failed approach.”
Meanwhile, former Massachusetts governor and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney laid out a jobs plan of his own on Tuesday, which the GOP frontrunner says will incorporate a 59-step proposal to revive the economy.
“The plan I put in place will create growth in the economy of 4 percent per year over the next four years and it will create 11.5 million jobs,” said Romney.
Other GOP hopefuls are expected to share their take on the job situation on the Republican debate tonight, September 7.