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Obama Unveils Jobs Plan, Calls on Congress to Pass

By Chuck Sudo in News on Sep 9, 2011 2:20PM

Speaking with force, authority and with bass in his voice he hasn't used in a couple of years, President Obama unveiled his wide-ranging jobs bill, brilliantly titled “The American Jobs Act," last night during a joint session of Congress. A $447 billion package of tax cuts and government spending that incorporates ideas from both political parties, Obama repeated to Congress during his 32-minute speech they should pass this bill and he will make sure they're held accountable if the bill stalls.

The bill calls for $200 billion in new spending, mainly in infrastructure repair, and $240 billion in tax cuts. (The Tribune breaks it down with this handy graphic.) The latter may seem like a lot but New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman breaks it down and finds the plan to his liking.

"The lingering effects of the housing bust and the overhang of household debt from the bubble years are creating a roughly $1 trillion per year hole in the U.S. economy, and this plan — which wouldn’t deliver all its benefits in the first year — would fill only part of that hole. And it’s unclear, in particular, how effective the tax cuts would be at boosting spending.

Still, the plan would be a lot better than nothing, and some of its measures, which are specifically aimed at providing incentives for hiring, might produce relatively a large employment bang for the buck."

Others, like Sun-Times financial columnist Terry Savage, are more skeptical.

"The spending cuts of last July will be increased. But those weren’t real cuts — only smaller spending increases than had previously been projected. And his promise that the “Super Committee” would be tasked to find even more spending cuts presumes they can find the required $1.5 trillion in the first place!"

The President, seeming to finally understand the biggest obstacle to a second term is tackling unemployment, geared the speech to those undecided voters who will determine whether or not he's re-elected next year. The plan's details also seemed geared such so the President will be taking this out on the road to gain support. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell derided the Obama jobs plan as "a re-election plan."

Congressional Republicans sat silent through most of the speech, but many indicated there were some good starting points in the plan. Obama did take the time during the speech to promise to hold firm and not let discussion over the bill's passage open the door to further deregulation. “What we can’t do — what I won’t do — is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for generations," the president said.