President unveils job creation package
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Last night, the President delivered an address on job creation before a joint session of Congress. The speech laid out the Administration’s plan to encourage job growth amid consistently disappointing unemployment reports. Leading up to the speech, experts had estimated the plan would cost anywhere from $100 to $400 billion. The cost of the measures unveiled last night total $447 billion. However, the chances of the entire package passing Congress remain very uncertain.
Politico explains how the package, dubbed the “American Jobs Act,” breaks down:
About 55 percent, or $240 billion, would be spent on an expansion and extension of the one-year payroll tax cut…
It offers $62 billion for unemployment insurance and jobs programs, $60 billion for infrastructure projects, $35 billion to keep 280,000 teachers on the job and to prevent layoffs of police and firefighters, $30 billion to modernize schools and $15 billion for construction workers to rehabilitate hundreds of thousands of vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses.
During the speech, the President decried the Congress partisan games and urged lawmakers to rise above the personal interests. “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,” President Obama said.
As millions of Americans remain out of work and millions more struggle to make ends meet, the President urged Congress to take their example. “[T]he millions of Americans who are watching right now, they don’t care about politics. They have real-life concerns. Many have spent months looking for work. Others are doing their best just to scrape by — giving up nights out with the family to save on gas or make the mortgage; postponing retirement to send a kid to college.”
We couldn’t agree more with the President. For years now, in the face of a disabling economic contraction, Americans have been cutting back; spending only what they have, only on what they need. Lawmakers could, and should, follow suit. Washington has spent at an unsustainable rate for decades. Even through the recession, as citizens dealt with lay-offs and shrinking savings, the government continued to spend far beyond what it collected.
There are few people who would disagree that the measures the President proposed are measures we would like to enact. But working within the constraints of our economic reality, the question of whether we can afford to remains. As the deficit super-committee begins to meet, we can only echo the President’s call that Congress stop playing politics and start living within its means.