President Obama offers jobs plan to Congress


In a rare speech scheduled for 4 p.m. PT, /*Obama*/ offered a $447 billion package of ideas that would affect people in their daily lives, including tax relief, unemployment insurance, spending to support construction jobs, aid to states to keep people in their jobs. Businesses would get their own tax breaks. And he promised a long-term plan to pay for it all.

The biggest items in his proposal:

  • $175 billion to extend and deepen the payroll tax cut reduction for working families.

  • $70 billion to cut employer payroll taxes in half and eliminate them in 2012 for new jobs and higher wages.

  • $100 billion on infrastructure and unemployment assistance.

Some of the president's key statements in Thursday night's speech:

"Pass this jobs bill, and starting tomorrow, small businesses will get a tax cut if they hire new workers or raise workers' wages. Pass this jobs bill, and all small business owners will also see their payroll taxes cut in half next year."

"Fifty House Republicans have proposed the same payroll tax cut that's in this plan."

"The American Jobs Act will repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools. It will put people to work right now fixing roofs and windows; installing science labs and high-speed internet in classrooms all across this country. It will rehabilitate homes and businesses in communities hit hardest by foreclosures. It will jumpstart thousands of transportation projects across the country."

"We're cutting the red tape that prevents some of these projects from getting started as quickly as possible."

"The idea for a big boost in construction is supported by America's largest business organization and America's largest labor organization. It's the kind of proposal that's been supported in the past by Democrats and Republicans alike."

"Companies will get extra tax credits if they hire America's veterans."

"Companies will get a $4,000 tax credit if they hire anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job."

"Pass this jobs bill, and the typical working family will get a $1,500 tax cut next year."

"This is the American Jobs Act. It will lead to new jobs for construction workers, teachers, veterans, first responders, young people and the long-term unemployed. It will provide tax credits to companies that hire new workers, tax relief for small business owners, and tax cuts for the middle-class. And here's the other thing I want the American people to know: the American Jobs Act will not add to the deficit. It will be paid for."

"Today you passed reform that will speed up the outdated patent process, so that entrepreneurs can turn a new idea into a new business as quickly as possible. That's the kind of action we need."

"You should pass it right away."

"Regardless of the arguments we've had in the past, regardless of the arguments we'll have in the future, this plan is the right thing to do right now. You should pass it. And I intend to take that message to every corner of this country. I also ask every American who agrees to lift your voice and 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."

Bipartisan appeal

Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Obama is hopeful the speech will help Republicans put aside their partisan interests.

"The president is going to put forward a bipartisan plan, a paid-for plan, about how we can get that done, about what we can do to create jobs right away," Earnest said.

White House officials said Obama would formally send his plan, coined by the administration as the /*American Jobs Act*/, to Congress next week.

House Speaker /*John Boehner*/ said he's hopeful there will be some proposals by the president that Republicans and Democrats can agree on.

But the Republican was critical of the timing of the president's speech, which comes as the National Football League kicks off its regular season.

"Listen, this is not a State of the Union address. The American people shouldn't be forced to watch some politician they don't want to listen to, and frankly, most of them would rather watch a football game," Boehner said.

Since Obama took office in January 2009, nearly 2 million Americans have lost jobs. Almost 14 million people are out of work.

The unemployment rate, which stood at 5 percent at the start of the deep recession and 7.8 percent when Obama began in office, is at 9.1 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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