(Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed)
With one in six Americans seeking full-time work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, President Obama is preparing to unveil a major jobs package Thursday that reportedly proposes $300 billion in tax cuts and federal spending.
The plan is expected to include an investment in public works projects, programs to retrain the unemployed and preventing layoffs for teachers, as well as an extension on the 2 percent reduction in the payroll tax that workers pay.
Even before the president appears before a joint session of Congress, Republican leaders are voicing skepticism about his prescription for creating jobs.
In a speech earlier this week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he expected the Obama plan would “represent more of the same failed approach that’s only made things worse over the past few years, and resulted in even fewer jobs than when he started.’’
McConnell was alluding to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the so-called economic stimulus, crafted by the Obama White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill over the near-unanimous opposition of congressional Republicans.
The Obama administration forecast that the $800 billion stimulus would yield sustained economic growth, while lowering the nation’s unemployment rate below 8 percent. Currently, unemployment remains at 9.1 percent.
But as Obama stands at the rostrum in the House of Representatives Thursday evening, he presides over an economy that grew by a mere one-eighth of one percent for the first half of the year and job market in which some 26 million Americans are either out of work, working part-time (when they really want to be working full-time) or have stopped looking for work because of the dearth of available jobs.
The White House says that the jobs plan the president will present in his nationally-televised address includes both Democratic and Republican ideas. However, GOP leaders say they have not been consulted.
In a letter to President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia wrote that “achieving bipartisan agreement on these and other initiatives requires more than just one side declaring a proposal to be 'bipartisan.'"
It may be difficult for Republicans to set aside their differences with the president who made decidedly partisan remarks this week.
“You say you’re the party of tax cuts?" Obama baited Republicans, during a Labor Day speech in Detroit. “Well, then, prove you’ll fight as hard for tax cuts for middle-class families as you do for oil companies and the most affluent Americans."
The president’s remarks seemed almost mild compared to those of James Hoffa, the Teamsters union president, who preceded Obama in Detroit. “Let’s take these sons of b****** out," he said, referring to Tea Party groups aligned with the party of Boehner and Cantor, “and give America back to America where we belong."
The White House has had no comment on Hoffa’s remarks, which, Republicans say, suggests that the president’s professed desire for bipartisanship is more rhetoric than reality.