On last Thursday the president of the United States, Barack Obama, made one of his most important speeches of the year. In an address to the joint session of Congress, he laid out his plan for the American Jobs Act. The president feels this bill will generate the jobs that so many people in this country desperately need. During his impassioned plea, he repeatedly used several variations of the following phrase: “Congress should pass this bill immediately.” One cable news show aired a compilation which showed him using the phrase about 16 times. He also outlined a few of the specifics of what would make this bill work. The following outline was taken directly from a press release on the White House website, www.whitehouse.gov:
THE AMERICAN JOBS
1. Tax Cuts to Help America’s Small Businesses Hire and
- Cutting the payroll tax in half for 98 percent of
businesses: The President’s plan will cut in half the taxes paid by
businesses on their first $5 million in payroll, targeting the benefit to the 98
percent of firms that have payroll below this threshold.
- A complete payroll tax holiday for added workers or increased
wages: The President’s plan will completely eliminate payroll taxes for
firms that increase their payroll by adding new workers or increasing the wages
of their current worker (the benefit is capped at the first $50 million in
- Extending 100% expensing into 2012: This continues an
effective incentive for new investment.
- Reforms and regulatory reductions to help entrepreneurs and small
businesses access capital.
2. Putting Workers Back on the Job While Rebuilding and
- A “Returning Heroes” hiring tax credit for veterans: This provides
tax credits from $5,600 to $9,600 to encourage the hiring of unemployed
- Preventing up to 280,000 teacher layoffs,while keeping cops and
firefighters on the job.
- Modernizing at least 35,000 public schools across the
country,supporting new science labs, Internet-ready classrooms and
renovations at schools across the country, in rural and urban areas.
- Immediate investments in infrastructure and a bipartisan National
Infrastructure Bank, modernizing our roads, rail, airports and waterways
while putting hundreds of thousands of workers back on the job.
- A New “Project Rebuild”, which will put people to work rehabilitating
homes, businesses and communities, leveraging private capital and scaling land
banks and other public-private collaborations.
- Expanding access to high-speed wireless as part of a plan for freeing
up the nation’s spectrum.
3. Pathways Back to Work for Americans Looking for
- The most innovative reform to the unemployment insurance program in 40
years: As part of an extension of unemployment insurance to prevent 5
million Americans looking for work from losing their benefits, the President’s
plan includes innovative work-based reforms to prevent layoffs and give states
greater flexibility to use UI funds to best support job-seekers, including:
- Work-Sharing: UI for workers whose employers choose work-sharing over
- A new “Bridge to Work” program: The plan builds on and improves innovative
state programs where those displacedtake temporary, voluntary work or pursue
- Innovative entrepreneurship and wage insurance programs: States will also be
empowered to implement wage insurance to help reemploy older workers and
programs that make it easier for unemployed workers to start their own
- Work-Sharing: UI for workers whose employers choose work-sharing over
- A $4,000 tax credit to employers for hiring long-term unemployed
- Prohibiting employers from discriminating against unemployed workers
- Expanding job opportunities for low-income youth and adults through a
fund for successful approaches for subsidized employment, innovative training
programs and summer/year-round jobs for youth.
4. Tax Relief for Every American Worker and
- Cutting payroll taxes in half for 160 million workers next year: The
President’s plan will expand the payroll tax cut passed last year to cut workers
payroll taxes in half in 2012 – providing a $1,500 tax cut to the typical
American family, without negatively impacting the Social Security Trust
- Allowing more Americans to refinance their mortgages at today’s near 4
percent interest rates, which can put more than $2,000 a year in a family’s
5. Fully Paid for as Part of the President’s Long-Term Deficit
Reduction Plan.To ensure that the American Jobs Act is
fully paid for, the President will call on the Joint Committee to come up with
additional deficit reduction necessary to pay for the Act and still meet its
deficit target. The President will, in the coming days, release a detailed plan
that will show how we can do that while achieving the additional deficit
reduction necessary to meet the President’s broader goal of stabilizing our debt
as a share of the economy.
This all sounds very good and I agree that the President and all of Congress should do whatever it takes to put as many people back to work as possible. I talk to people everyday who are struggling to find full-time work. A generation ago, having a college degree was an automatic ticket to obtaining a good-paying and respectable job. Today, the average college graduate will be fortunate just to find a part-time job in today’s economy, nonetheless a full timer. I had two full-time jobs over the past year and half which were both cut. The first was a temp job at a local university (that lasted one year) which was cut due to a lack of funding (budget cuts have really hit the UNC system hard) and the second was another temp position at the same place which ended after about three months. I continue to work part-time at a grocery store that I have been at for almost five years. Since being layed off from my last temp position, I have applied to about 10 different communications (field I got my degree in) related jobs in North Carolina.
This bill needs to pass. People in this country need to get back to work. According a Census Bureau report released yesterday, the overall poverty rate has climbed to 15.1 percent, or 46.2 million, up from 14.3 percent in 2009. Yikes! That doesn’t sound like good news. A report that I saw a few weeks ago on an episode of CBS Evening News stated that nearly 21 percent of all African Americans were unemployed or forced to work a part-time schedule. This is not an African American issue. This is an issue that affects everyone from all walks of life. With gas and groceries getting more expensive on a daily basis, it’s nearly impossible for the average family to support itself on part-time funds.
Anyone that has followed Obama’s presidency knows the opposition he is up against from Congress. The Republicans in Congress have successfully blocked a vast majority of the items he has proposed over the last two and a half years. There is a deep-rooted belief that the GOP wants nothing more than for the presidency of Obama to fail and the easiest way to accomplish that goal is to successfully block every piece of legislation he brings to them. Moments after his address, Eric Cantor, the republican house majority leader, was on a Fox News broadcast sarcastically talking about Obama’s speech. During the address, it was almost comical to see the expression on the face of John Boehner, the speaker of the house, also a republican, whenever Obama would make a comment about how Congress needed to pass laws that cut taxes on middle-class working citizens instead of giving tax breaks to the richest people and corporations (a key aspect of republican philosophy since billion-dollar corporations fund a large percentage of republican campaigns, and in in turn, they are given political incentives). Boehner’s face nearly turned pink when Obama mentioned how billionaire investor Warren Buffet feels that he should be taxed more!
Now there are legit concerns to this bill. Obama probably needs to more concretely explain where a alot of the funding for this bill will come from. Members of both political parties feel there doesn’t need to be another bill passed that puts our nation into more debt. And that is a very legitimate argument. At the same time, all of the political games that are being played over this needs to stop. At the end of the day this bill isn’t about the democrats or the republicans gaining more political points nor is it about refusing this bill just because you dislike the president and his policies. It’s about getting American men and women back to work. And it should pass for that reason alone.