“Pass This Bill Now”… President Obama said tonight in his address to Congress and the nation, as he “ticked off a list of measures he said would put money in people’s pockets, encourage companies to begin hiring again, and jolt an American economy at risk of relapsing into recession.”
“Pass This Bill Now,” repeated again and again in so many words, as he “all but ordered Congress to pass the legislation.”
“You should pass this jobs plan right away,” the president declared.
With Republicans already lining up to condemn the plan, Mr. Obama said, “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.”
While Republicans did not often applaud Mr. Obama’s plans, party leaders greeted his proposals with a degree of conciliation. “The proposals the president outlined tonight merit consideration,” Speaker John A. Boehner said in a statement. “We hope he gives serious consideration to our ideas as well.”
Obama’s passionate speech was at times fiery as he exhorted Congress to act right away on the American Jobs Act which includes tax help for small business and workers:
The centerpiece of the American Jobs Act is an extension and expansion of the cut in payroll taxes, worth $240 billion, under which the tax paid by employees would be cut in half through 2012. Smaller businesses would also get a cut in their payroll taxes, as well as a tax holiday for hiring new employees.
Mr. Obama said a typical household would benefit to the tune of $1,500 next year.
In a dig to Republicans, Obama said, “I know some of you have sworn oaths to never raise any taxes on anyone for as long as you live. Now is not the time to carve out an exception and raise middle-class taxes, which is why you should pass this bill right away.”
But he also repeated his long standing position that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations should “pay their fair share” — in other words, that corporate loopholes should be closed and the Bush era tax cuts on the wealthiest not extended yet again.
“Should we keep tax loopholes for oil companies? Or should we use that money to give small business owners a tax credit when they hire new workers? Because we can’t afford to do both,” he said. “Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs? Right now, we can’t afford to do both.”
The hope is that obstructionist Republicans will not stand in the way of this legislation that is long overdue. As President Obama said tonight, “there are private construction companies all across america waiting to get to work.” And working to improve our infrastructure is key to jump-starting our ecomony, in my opinion. President Obama also endorsed the Kerry-Hutchison Infrastructure Bank proposal in his speech tonight saying:
“No more earmarks. No more boondoggles. No more bridges to nowhere. We’re cutting the red tape that prevents some of these projects from getting started as quickly as possible. And we’ll set up an independent fund to attract private dollars and issue loans based on two criteria: how badly a construction project is needed and how much good it would do for the economy.
“This idea came from a bill written by a Texas Republican and a Massachusetts Democrat. 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. You should pass it right away.”
Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) released the following statement after President Obama’s speech tonight to a joint session of Congress:
“This morning, 12 of us charged with putting America’s fiscal house in order stressed, one after another, that we were deadly earnest about taking nothing off the table and finding the best ideas, left or right, for the strength and success of our country. Governing in difficult times demands nothing less.
“Tonight I was very encouraged to see President Obama include the Kerry-Hutchison infrastructure bank proposal in his jobs package, and I hope everyone looks at this idea on the merits alone, not as President Obama’s idea or my idea or a bill I wrote with Kay Bailey Hutchison and Lindsey Graham. This single idea is bigger than all of us. This is America’s bill.
“An infrastructure bank is a novel and innovative approach that will create good jobs, help businesses, and make us competitive. There’s almost $200 billion in private capital sitting on the sidelines that could be invested in our infrastructure, but it will take this bank to unlock private investment for bridges, roads, and rail. It will do more with less federal spending. It’s the single cheapest part of the President’s jobs proposal. It will create millions of jobs in the next decade. It’s apolitical. Instead of funding piecemeal projects based on political influence, the bank will operate outside of politics. We have got to build consensus for the infrastructure bank to become law in this Congress.
“Overall, tonight I thought President Obama laid out an aggressive, pragmatic jobs and growth plan. We know we can’t fix the budget without fixing jobs and we can’t fix jobs without fixing the budget. Everyone and I mean everyone needs to cut the rhetoric and the soundbites and the political posturing and quietly roll up our sleeves and get to work. Our joint committee has a big job to do and so does the entire Congress and the White House. Let’s get at it.”
Indeed… “Let’s get at it,” Congress. Time’s a wasting…