By Lisa P. Jackson
Last night President Obama asked Congress to join him in rebuilding the economy the American way — by supporting middle class families, creating good-paying jobs for American workers, and ensuring that the same set of rules apply to everyone from Main Street to Wall Street. In his address before a joint session of Congress, the President announced that he will send to the floor for immediate action the American Jobs Act, a collection of commonsense, bipartisan ideas to create new jobs now and help the families and small businesses still fighting their way out of the greatest economic downturn in generations.
The first steps are to help small businesses hire new workers and to strengthen family budgets. The president proposed a range of tax cuts that will help small businesses — America’s top job creators — expand, creating incentives for them to hire new employees or increase wages. At the same time, he made clear the importance of extending payroll tax cuts for American workers, who can use the extra money in their paychecks to support their families and strengthen our economy.
Next, the Jobs Act will take proactive steps to put teachers, first-responders, construction workers and veterans into jobs rebuilding our infrastructure and shoring up the foundations of our economy. These will help fill positions that are critical to our communities and our economic future. Workers will take on need- and impact-based projects repairing and constructing roads and bridges and refurbishing schools. And we will make sure the classrooms where tomorrow’s innovators and entrepreneurs are learning have the teachers they need — including up to 280,000 teachers laid off by state budget cuts.
President Barack Obama delivers an address on jobs and the economy. Credit: Chuck Kennedy, 9/8/11
President Obama has also proposed extending help to the long-term unemployed who have borne the brunt of our nation’s economic challenges. Not only will the American Jobs Act provide the support for people looking for work, but it will also make changes that better connect job-seekers with job openings.
Finally, the American Jobs Act includes provisions to ensure that this plan is paid for. It won’t add a dime to the deficit. By closing corporate tax loopholes and asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share, we can strengthen the core components of our economy, the small businesses and middle class families that are essential to our nation’s success.
While outlining his jobs plan, the president also made clear that our economic success depends safeguarding American families, protecting their health and quality of life. “But what we can’t do — what I will not do — is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades. I reject the idea that we need to ask people to choose between their jobs and their safety. I reject the argument that says for the economy to grow, we have to roll back protections that ban hidden fees by credit card companies, or rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury,” said the president. “We shouldn’t be in a race to the bottom, where we try to offer the cheapest labor and the worst pollution standards. We should be in a race to the top.”
Our nation has overcome the worst economic downturn in generations and put millions of Americans to work — but our challenges were not created overnight, and our work is not finished. By taking swift action on the proposals in the American Jobs Act, we can bolster the economic security of middle class families and give businesses large and small what they need to start investing in new jobs. It’s important that we act now, and take these steps to keep our recovery moving.