POLITICS

President Barack Obama's jobs plan to highlight Thursday speech

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"The only reason some of these people may not support it now is because of the politics that's going on, which is again unfortunate for the American people," Daley said.

(Photo: Associated Press)

He said the jobs programs would be paid for without borrowed money, and hinted that some of the funds would come from higher taxes on wealthier Americans. They "ought to pay a little more," Daley said.

Obama's goal is also to put Republicans on the spot to act — in their face, and in their chamber. Obama is expected to speak for up to 45 minutes, beginning at 7 p.m. EDT.

Before Obama even said a word, political and economic reality raised two questions: Will any of his ideas get approved, and will they actually work?

When asked about some of the ideas Obama is expected to discuss, majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents were all skeptical that the proposals would do a lot to create jobs, a Pew Research Center poll out Wednesday found. A series of new polls by major news organizations finds that the mood is downright dismal about the direction of the country, with Obama's standing and approval on the economy at or near the lowest levels of his presidency.

Yet voters are holding all leaders accountable, supporting the White House's point that Congress is under pressure to act, too. An Associated Press-GfK poll found that more people assign chief blame for the economy to former President George W. Bush and congressional Republicans and Democrats than to Obama.

Democrats familiar with the president's plans say the White House sees the speech as a pivot point after spending the spring and summer focused on negotiations over deficit spending. They say the fall offers the president a window to press congressional Republicans to act on his economic plan — and if they don't, Obama will spend 2012 running against them as obstructionists. Whether that's enough to win over voters is another matter.

Obama's chief campaign strategist, David Axelrod, said the president won't start with ideas that have been "preapproved" by Republicans in Congress.

"Ultimately, the test for any of these ideas: Are they right? Can they help the economy? Can they help get people back to work?" Axelrod told The Associated Press.

The president's plan to pay for his ideas is a political necessity in a time of fiscal austerity. Deficit-boosting stimulus spending is out. But here, too, he is banking on a lot of help.

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