President Barack Obama plans to send the text of his $447 billion job-growth package to Congress tonight and urge quick action on the legislation, according to an administration official.
Obama will speak at 10:40 a.m. in the Rose Garden, the White House said today. He will be joined by a group of teachers, police officers, construction workers and small business owners, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity before the schedule was released. Obama will send the legislation to the Capitol later when Congress returns to work.
“Right now, one of the smartest things we can do” is “put people back to work,” Obama said in an interview broadcast this morning on NBC’s “Today” program. He said independent economists are describing the American Jobs Act as a program that “buys us insurance against a double-dip recession.”
The package, which the president outlined in a Sept. 8 address to a joint session of Congress, is weighted toward tax cuts, which account for more than half the dollar value of the plan. The rest would provide money for improving infrastructure, modernizing schools and aid for states to keep teachers and emergency workers on the job.
The centerpiece is a cut in the payroll tax, which covers the first $106,800 in earnings and is evenly split between employers and employees. Obama would reduce the portion paid by workers next year to 3.1 percent from 4.2 percent now. The rate was cut two percentage points under the terms of a tax deal reached last year. That cut is set to expire Dec. 31, which would push the tax rate back to 6.2 percent.
Job growth stalled last month and the unemployment rate has hovered at or above 9 percent for more than two years. The president’s job-approval ratings are falling to new lows as public doubts about his stewardship of the economy rise. Public opinion of Congress has dropped even lower.
“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,” Obama told a joint session of Congress on Sept. 8.
Obama stressed that he would pay for the entire jobs package with offsetting spending cuts and increases in tax revenue over the next decade. He said he would announce the offsets by Sept. 19.
House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and two other members of the House Republican leadership sent a letter to Obama Sept. 9 in which they signaled that some items in the package may be broken out for individual consideration and that they may insert their own bills dealing with job creation.
The Republican leaders also said they will continue to insist on stand-alone votes on free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. The accords have been held up while the administration negotiates passage of legislation to extend aid to workers who lose their jobs to overseas competitors.
“We share your desire for bipartisan cooperation, and assume that your ideas were not presented as an all-or-nothing proposition, but rather in anticipation that the Congress may also have equally as effective proposals to offer for consideration,” the leaders wrote.
Obama plans to campaign for passage of the measure by appealing to voters to step up pressure on their representatives. He appeared in Richmond, Virginia, which Cantor represents in Congress, on Sept. 9 and he plans an event tomorrow in Ohio, Boehner’s home state. The following day he’ll go to the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina.
Economists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Moody’s Analytics Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. said last week that the U.S. economy would get a boost of up to 2 percent under Obama’s plan.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said the proposal would create 1.9 million jobs and lower the unemployment rate by one percentage point compared with current policy. He forecast it would add 2 percent to next year’s GDP.
Goldman Sachs estimated that the plan would add 1.5 percent to the economy, while Macroeconomic Advisers LLC said 1.3 percent and UniCredit Research said up to 2 percent.
Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures expiring in December lost 1.62 percent to 1,133.60 at 9:06 a.m. in New York amid concern about a potential default by Greece. The benchmark measure of U.S. equities slumped 1.7 percent last week, wiping out its rally since Sept. 2 on the final day amid concern the debt crisis is worsening.