On a stormy night in Washington, President Obama gave a stormy speech, imploring members of Congress, both from his Democratic Party and the opposing GOP, to pass his jobs act, repeatedly telling them they should put aside their political differences and “pass it right away.”
While acknowledging that there were those present at the joint session of Congress who would rather resolve party differences at the ballot box, Obama argued that the American people can’t wait that long.
The next election is 14 months away, he said. “The people who sent us here … they don’t have the luxury of waiting 14 months.”
Obama’s speech, in which he outlined a plan that would give tax credits to those hiring veterans and people who have been out of work, was directed immediately at Congress. But it was also a speech to the American people.
Taking what he surely hopes was a populous tone, the president suggested that the big corporations and richest people in the nation must now pay their fair share through the closing of tax loopholes, in favor of giving tax incentives to small businesses to hire more people. He argued that there’s not enough money to continue tax breaks for the rich and still extend them to small businesses.
“This isn’t political grandstanding,” the president said to a lukewarm Republican reception. “This isn't class warfare. This is simple math"
Obama seemingly warned those in Congress who might oppose his vision. Suggesting that the American people are likely to support the measures, he vowed to travel the nation to bring his message directly to the voters.
He also implored the public to contact their members of Congress to urge them to pass the measure.
The president said his plan will “put people back to work rebuilding America,” hiring unemployed construction workers and giving private construction companies jobs rebuilding roads and bridges, airports and schools. It would also result in the hiring or rehiring of thousands of teachers.
The criteria for funding projects, he said, will be based on “how badly a construction project is needed and how much good it will do for the economy,” vowing to eliminate boondoggles, earmarks and “bridges to nowhere.”
Much of what he presented, he said, came from proposals that have been made by both Republicans and Democrats in the past. And enjoy the support of both the nation’s largest business and labor organizations.
Obama also proposed:
Extension of unemployment insurance benefits for an additional year.
A tax cut for middle class families.
More government cost reductions that would stabilize the debt in the long run.
Reforming Medicare “to strengthen it.”
The president said the proposals would not increase the deficit and would be fully paid for.
He also pledged to take executive action that would ensure that small companies that do business with the government get paid faster.
Obama, who took a lot of heat from members of his own party for telling the EPA to shelve stronger pollution regulations, argued that the economic crisis should not be used as an excuse to eliminate regulations designed to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of the American people be protected.
“There is no excuse for wiping out the basic protections Americans have counted on for decades,” he said.