POLITICS

President Barack Obama's jobs plan to highlight Thursday speech

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(AP, ABC7) — Facing a frustrated public and a skeptical Congress, President Barack Obama will pitch at least $300 billion in jobs proposals aimed at getting Americans back to work quickly and forcing Republicans to take a share of the responsibility for solving the country's economic woes.

(Photo: Associated Press)

The underlying political strategy: If Obama can't get his ideas passed heading into his re-election year, he at least hopes to show why he shouldn't take the fall.

People who need a job will be watching closely, among them the nearly 125,000 people in Washington's 8th ward who are unemployed.

"I've been on unemployment for about two years so I'm just hoping that it’s something else that could be done,” Shequetta Patterson said inside the employment center.

D.C.’s unemployment rate stands at 10.8 percent. In Ward 8, a staggering 26.8 percent are without work.

"I just hope he pushed it. I don't think it's really gonna make a difference," Kevin Hill said of the president’s planned speech.

The 27-year-old married father of three said life is a series of little jobs. His most recent was a six-week-long lead abatement job that ended August 12th.

"I can only be patient and humble myself until it comes through," he said.

At his home, Hill has made-up pictures of Obama with Hill’s children. He and his wife Fuernica have an 8-year-old in school and two younger children at home.

"It’s hard man, you know, I don't want to go back to the streets,” Hill said. "I'm trying to do the right thing, you know, by me working that's all I believe in my kids need. I aint' going to do them no good locked up.”

He's never been to prison, but many in this neighborhood have been and need work.

"I just know we are hurting out here, I know that I ain’t the only one jobless… there's a whole rack of people in there jobless and got families or just came home from jail," Hill said.

In the rare speech Thursday to a joint session of Congress, Obama is likely to offer a package of ideas that would affect people in their daily lives — tax relief, unemployment insurance, spending to support construction jobs, aid to states to keep people in their jobs. Businesses would get their own tax breaks. And he will promise a long-term plan to pay for it all.

Yet all of it ultimately will depend on a Republican-controlled House that has a different economic approach and no political incentive to help a Democrat seeking a second term.

White House officials said Obama planned to formally send his plan — coined by the administration as the American Jobs Act — to Congress next week.

Obama's chief of staff, William Daley, urged Republican lawmakers to abandon their politically driven refusal to work with Obama and take action on his jobs proposal. Daley declined to provide details of the president's jobs proposal, saying only that it would help teachers, construction workers, first responders and small businesses, and that many of the ideas have been supported by Republicans in the past.

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