Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 | 2 a.m.
President Barack Obama on Thursday laid out his plan to kick-start the economy before a joint session of Congress, calling for lawmakers to pass it “right away.”
Obama’s plan, a $447 billion program of tax cuts and spending that he said will be completely paid for, was met with some hesitation by Republicans in the House. The difficulty for the House Republicans, who have been nothing but contrary to the president, is that Obama offered several proposals that have won the support of conservatives in the past. By taking the middle road, the president put the issue in clear terms: “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.”
The president’s plan includes:
• Tax cuts: The payroll tax would be cut in half on the first $5 million of a business’s payroll. The White House said that would cut in half the payroll tax for 98 percent of the nation’s businesses. And businesses that hire workers or increase wages wouldn’t have to pay payroll taxes on the additions. Employees would benefit directly, too. Reducing further the payroll tax that workers pay would give the typical American family a $1,500 tax break.
• Infrastructure: The president is proposing $50 billion for transportation projects across the country, which would put people back to work and make a needed investment in the country’s infrastructure. He is also proposing $10 billion for a National Infrastructure Bank, which would help fund important projects that don’t qualify now.
• Workers: Obama wants to extend unemployment benefits and increase programs to help get people back to work. He would provide tax credits for businesses that hire unemployed workers and veterans.
• Schools: The plan calls for modernizing at least 35,000 schools, by providing new science labs and Internet-ready classrooms, among other renovations. As well, the plan would provide money to help school districts from having to lay off teachers.
Obama warned lawmakers about pushing off his plan, as some seem ready to do, or thinking that the politics are too divisive and can only be settled by the next election.
“The next election is 14 months away. And the people who sent us here — the people who hired us to work for them — they don’t have the luxury of waiting 14 months,” Obama said. “Some of them are living week to week; paycheck to paycheck; even day to day. They need help, and they need it now.”
The president has offered a range of good ideas that should spur the economy and job creation. Congress should act quickly to consider them.