President Barack Obama Proposes $447 Billion Jobs Plan [Gallery]

Mixing politically moderate proposals with a punchy tone, President Obama challenged lawmakers on Thursday to “pass this jobs bill” — a blunt call on Congress to enact his $447 billion package of tax cuts and new government spending, designed to revive a stalling economy and his own political standing.

  • President Barack Obama shakes hands with Vice President Joe Biden after concluding an address to a Joint Session of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete SouzaPresident Barack Obama shakes hands with Vice President Joe Biden after concluding an address to a Joint Session of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
  • President Barack Obama delivers an address on jobs and the economy to a Joint Session of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Behind the President are Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner. Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete SouzaPresident Barack Obama delivers an address on jobs and the economy to a Joint Session of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Behind the President are Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner. Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
  • President Barack Obama outlines the details of the American Jobs Act during an address to a Joint Session of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Photo: Official White House Photo by Lawrence JacksonPresident Barack Obama outlines the details of the American Jobs Act during an address to a Joint Session of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Photo: Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson
  • Members of Congress listen as President Barack Obama outlines the details of the American Jobs Act during an address to a Joint Session of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete SouzaMembers of Congress listen as President Barack Obama outlines the details of the American Jobs Act during an address to a Joint Session of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
  • Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta watch as President Barack Obama enters the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete SouzaSecretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta watch as President Barack Obama enters the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
  • President Barack Obama shakes hands with Members of Congress as he makes his way through the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Photo: Official White House Photo by Lawrence JacksonPresident Barack Obama shakes hands with Members of Congress as he makes his way through the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Photo: Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson
  • President Barack Obama talks with Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., prior to entering the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete SouzaPresident Barack Obama talks with Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., prior to entering the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
  • President Barack Obama watches a monitor in House Speaker John Boehner’s Ceremonial Office at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., before addressing a Joint Session of Congress on jobs and the economy, Sept. 8, 2011. Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete SouzaPresident Barack Obama watches a monitor in House Speaker John Boehner’s Ceremonial Office at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., before addressing a Joint Session of Congress on jobs and the economy, Sept. 8, 2011. Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
  • President Barack Obama addresses a Joint Session of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner are seated behind the President. Photo: Official White House Photo by Chuck KennedyPresident Barack Obama addresses a Joint Session of Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Sept. 8, 2011. Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner are seated behind the President. Photo: Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

“You should pass this jobs plan right away,” Obama said in a forceful, impassioned tone in the televised speech to a rare joint session of Congress. “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,” he said, taking a swipe at Republicans who have consistently opposed his initiatives.

Obama said his plan would “provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled and give companies confidence that if they invest and hire there will be customers.” He proposed extending unemployment insurance at a cost of $49 billion, modernizing schools for $30 billion and investing in transportation infrastructure projects for $50 billion.

But the bulk was made up of $240 billion in tax relief by cutting payroll taxes for employees in half, to 3.1 percent, next year and trimming employer payroll taxes as well.

Here are the quotes from the speech. About bipartisanship: “The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours.”

“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, whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.”

About Payroll Tax: “Pass this jobs bill and all small business owners will also see their payroll taxes cut in half next year. If you have 50 employees making an average salary, that’s an $80,000 tax cut.”

“And all businesses will be able to continue writing off the investments they make in 2012. It’s not just Democrats who have supported this kind of proposal. Fifty House Republicans have proposed the same payroll tax cut that’s in this plan. You should pass it right away.”

About Trade Agreements: “Now it’s time to clear the way for a series of trade agreements that would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in Panama, Colombia and South Korea – while also helping the workers whose jobs have been affected by global competition.”

“If Americans can buy Kias and Hyundais, I want to see folks in South Korea driving Fords and Chevys and Chryslers. I want to see more products sold around the world stamped with three proud words: “Made in America.”

“Everyone here knows that we have badly decaying roads and bridges all over this country. Our highways are clogged with traffic. Our skies are the most congested in the world. This is inexcusable. Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us an economic superpower.”

“And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads? At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America?”

About deficit reduction: “It’s a balanced plan that would reduce the deficit by making additional spending cuts, by making modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid and by reforming our tax code in a way that asks the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share.”

During the speech, Republicans reacted to many of Obama’s proposals with stony silence. Party leaders said later they would work with the president to find common ground even if they were unlikely to support the entire package.

“Let’s do the things we agree on, set aside the things we differ on and get to work so we can have some results for people who are hurting so badly out there,” said Eric Cantor, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives.

Cantor suggested he could support expanding a payroll tax cut that passed Congress last year. But other Republicans said they were not inclined to back it this time. Democrats cheered plans for investment while Republicans sat stonily through his calls for higher taxes on the wealthy.

Mitt Romney, who is fighting for the Republican presidential nomination, issued a video arguing America had lost nearly 2.5 million jobs since Mr Obama took office. It said: “Mr President, you are 960 days late.”

But Republican House speaker John Boehner, who may dictate the fate of Mr Obama’s plan, offered a conciliatory tone. He said: “The proposals the president outlined tonight merit consideration. We hope he gives serious consideration to our ideas as well.” [via Reuters and The Telegraph]

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