Friday, September 09, 2011

POTUS $447B American Jobs Act "The Right Thing To Do Right Now"

Sep 8: In an effort to bolster a near-recession economy and historic unemployment, President Obama laid the groundwork for what will either be a remarkable coming together of warring political parties; or, the permanent fracture that drives both sides further apart. Following the political circus of the debt ceiling debate, that has driven public approval ratings of Congress and the President to all time lows, the President announced his $447 billion American Jobs Act. The proposed package includes $245 billion in tax cuts; $140 billion in investments in infrastructure and local aid; and $62 billion in continued unemployment benefits.
    In sum, the plan includes tax cuts for small businesses and workers; investments in infrastructure and schools via a National Infrastructure Bank a new "Project Rebuild" program; assistance to keep teacher, cops and firefighters on the job; and, extension of unemployment insurance for 5 million workers and program reforms. And, importantly, the President promised that the initiative would be "fully paid for" via additional deficit reductions which he will detail in a submission to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Supercommittee) within the next 10 days.
    The President emphasized repeatedly the seriousness and urgency of what he called "the economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that's made things worse. . . 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. . ."
    He said, "I know there's been a lot of skepticism about whether the politics of the moment will allow us to pass this jobs plan -- or any jobs plan. Already, we're seeing the same old press releases and tweets flying back and forth. Already, the media has proclaimed that it's impossible to bridge our differences. And maybe some of you have decided that those differences are so great that we can only resolve them at the ballot box. But know this: The next election is 14 months away. And the people who sent us here -- the people who hired us to work for them -- they don't have the luxury of waiting 14 months.  (Applause.)  Some of them are living week to week, paycheck to paycheck, even day to day. They need help, and they need it now. . . Regardless of the arguments we've had in the past, regardless of the arguments we will have in the future, this plan is the right thing to do right now.  You should pass it."
    In a direct affront to much of the Republican's Job Plan [See WIMS 9/8/11], the President said, "Now, I realize that some of you have a different theory on how to grow the economy. Some of you sincerely believe that the only solution to our economic challenges is to simply cut most government spending and eliminate most government regulations. . .  Well, I agree that we can't afford wasteful spending, and I'll work with you, with Congress, to root it out. . . [and] We should have no more regulation than the health, safety and security of the American people require. Every rule should meet that common-sense test. 

    "But what we can't do -- what I will not do -- is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades. I reject the idea that we need to ask people to choose between their jobs and their safety. I reject the argument that says for the economy to grow, we have to roll back protections that ban hidden fees by credit card companies, or rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury, or laws that prevent the health insurance industry from shortchanging patients. I reject the idea that we have to strip away collective bargaining rights to compete in a global economy. We shouldn't be in a race to the bottom, where we try to offer the cheapest labor and the worst pollution standards.  America should be in a race to the top. And I believe we can win that race. In fact, this larger notion that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everybody's money, and let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they're on their own -- that's not who we are. That's not the story of America. . ."

    Again, the President vowed to encourage public support and pressure in support of his plan and said, "I intend to take that message to every corner of this country. And I ask -- I ask every American who agrees to lift your voice: Tell the people who are gathered here tonight that you want action now.  Tell Washington that doing nothing is not an option. Remind us that if we act as one nation and one people, we have it within our power to meet this challenge."
    As of early this morning, the White House has posted support comments on the President's plan from: Steve Case, Chairman & CEO of Revolution LLC, Chairman of the Startup America Partnership; Mark Gallogly Co-founder and Managing Principal, Centerbridge Partners; Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers; Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter; Ken Chenault, Chairman and CEO, American Express; Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO, GE; Matthew Rose, Chairman and CEO, BNSF Railway; Richard D. Parsons, Chairman of Citigroup; Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Carl Levin (D-MI), and Daniel Inouye (D-HI); and Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Frederica Wilson (D-FL). 
    Republican support for the President's plan appears in question. Even before the President's speech, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued a release saying, ". . .in a two-party system like ours, it shouldn't be surprising that there would be two very different points of view about how to solve this particular crisis. What is surprising is the President's apparent determination to apply the same government-driven policies that have already been tried and failed. The definition of insanity, as Albert Einstein once famously put it, is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. Frankly, I can't think of a better description of anyone who thinks the solution to this problem is another Stimulus. The first Stimulus didn't do it. Why would another one?. . . This isn't a jobs plan. It's a re-election plan. That's why Republicans will continue to press for policies that empower job creators, not Washington. . ." Senator McConnell did not issue a release following the speech.
    House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) issued a statement after President Obama's address and said, "American families and small businesses are hurting, and they are looking for the White House and Congress to seek common ground and work together to help get our economy back on track. Republicans have laid out a blueprint for economic growth and job creation -- our Plan for America's Job Creators -- that focuses on one thing: removing government barriers to private-sector job growth. The proposals the President outlined tonight merit consideration. We hope he gives serious consideration to our ideas as well. 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."
    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and author of much of the Republican Jobs Plan issued a series of statements. Rep. Cantor said in part, "We are very focused on making sure that we can do something to provide incentives for small business people to get back in the game of job creation. That is what last night's speech was about. We have a plan to do that. I was glad to hear the Vice President say they are willing to compromise, because last night the President said it is an all or nothing proposal here for us to pick up and pass his bill. I can say there are a lot of things, whether it's the trade agreements, whether it's tax relief for small business people, whether it's the reform of unemployment compensation, that are in our plan as well. We could very easily take these items, put them across the floor, and I believe pass them. Hopefully we can work together and create an environment for jobs. . . on the need for infrastructure spending, we believe that states have monies right now, but Washington has tied up their ability to use those monies. We want to straighten out the system of how money is spent before we start spending more. We don't support the idea of creating a Fannie and Freddie for roads and bridges in an infrastructure bank. We believe that you can facilitate a better flow of funds to construction projects by fixing the current system."
    The President said he will ask the 12-member Super Committee, [See WIMS 8/10/11] that is required to report legislation by November 23, 2011, to reduce the deficit by another $1.5 trillion over 10 years to add the cost of the American Jobs Act to their considerations. He said he is willing to consider modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and reforming the tax code in a way that asks the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share. He will details his proposals soon. A separate, September 9, White House communication from David Plouffe, Senior Advisor to the President indicated the Act would be "fully paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes and by asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share."
    The Supercommittee is just now getting underway and includes the following 12 members. Senate Democrats: Patty Murray (D-WA, Co-Chair), Max Baucus (D-MT), and John Kerry (D-MA). Senate Republicans: Jon Kyl (R-AZ); Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Rob Portman (R-OH). House Republicans: Jeb Hensarling (R-TX, Co-Chair); Dave Camp (R-MI); and Fred Upton (R-MI). House Democrats: James Clyburn (D-SC); Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).
    Access the full text of the President's speech and link to an enhanced video that includes charts, graphs and summary information (click here). Access an overview fact sheet from the White House (click here). Access a additional fact sheet on the American Jobs Act (click here). Access another 3-page summary of the Act (click here). Access links to various supporting comments on the White House website (click here). Access extensive follow-up on the Jobs Act including support and schedule of activities on the White House Blog (click here). Access a release from Senator McConnell (click here). Access a release from Speaker Boehner (click here). Access a series of statements from Rep. Cantor (click here). [#All]