President Barack Obama today used a speech at the Brookings Institution to say it was time to bail out Main Street and small businesses, and proposed a program that isn’t sweeping but would touch on several fronts:
President Obama on Tuesday outlined a broad new proposal to try to spur jobs and give more help to Main Street consumers and businesses.
In a speech at the Brookings Institution, Obama said he wants to give small businesses tax breaks for new hires and equipment purchases. He also wants to expand American Recovery and Reinvestment Act programs and spend some $50 billion more on roads, bridges, aviation and water projects.
Finally, Obama would offer consumers rebates for retro-fitting their homes to consume less energy.
“Even though we have reduced the deluge of job losses to a relative trickle, we are not yet creating jobs at a pace to help all those families who have been swept up in the flood,” Obama said. “And it speaks to an urgent need to accelerate job growth in the short term while laying a new foundation for lasting economic growth.”
Obama did not give a price tag for his proposals but pointed out that there is more wiggle room in the federal budget since the 2008 financial system bailout program will cost $200 billion less than expected.
“This gives us a chance to pay down the deficit faster than we thought possible and to shift funds that would have gone to help the banks on Wall Street to help create jobs on Main Street,” Obama said.
Fox News’ report notes Obama’s message but also stressed his potshots at GOPers for getting the United States into the present mess:
President Obama used his speech rolling out a stimulus-style jobs program Tuesday to point the finger at Republicans for allegedly facilitating the economic crisis and then foisting it off on his administration to solve.
While praising his own team for pioneering “ambitious” financial reform and “sweeping” economic recovery initiatives, the president took some pointed shots at Republicans who are now blasting the latest package as a spend-crazy “stimulus two” that will drill deeper into the deficit.
“We were forced to take those steps (to jump-start the economy) largely without the help of an opposition party which, unfortunately, after having presided over the decision-making that had led to the crisis, decided to hand it over to others to solve,” Obama said, starting his address with a history lesson on the roots of the recession.
He said the crisis was caused not just by economic weakness but the “weakness in our political system” — one corroded by the “bitterness of partisanship,” and the “endless campaigns focused on scoring points instead of meeting our common challenges.”
“We’ve seen the consequences of this failure of responsibility. The American people have paid a heavy price,” Obama said, calling the nation’s unemployment a “human tragedy.”
But Reuters, in an analysis, says Obama’s “modest” approach to jobs isn’t winning him a ton of friends:
U.S. President Barack Obama’s middle-road approach to surging unemployment is likely to face resistance from many quarters, with some accusing him of spending too much and others of doing too little.
n a speech Tuesday, Obama laid out proposals to alleviate the worst job market since the early 1980s, although he did not outline a concrete price tag for the plan.
The plan includes several measures aimed at small businesses, including:
* Eliminating capital gains taxes for one year
* Providing tax deductions for businesses that hire
The modest nature of the president’s proposal, which effectively proposes very little in the way of new spending, should make it politically palatable, particularly in a Congress controlled by his fellow Democrats.
Many politicians would like to be seen taking action ahead of midterm congressional elections in November 2010. Mounting job losses could threaten Democrats’ grip on Congress.
However, the strategy wins him few friends outside of Washington’s political middle.
Indeed, by looking too ardently for common ground, the president risks losing the political momentum required to address a labor market crisis that the Federal Reserve predicts will linger at least another three years.
Once again key questions seem to be: where is “the middle” in America? It’s difficult to win elections without it — but can you score victories if you’re perhaps too much in the middle of the middle at a time of intense ideological and partisan polarization?
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.