He said the economy continues to be in a deep hole, and he urged
Congress to extend the temporary reduction in the employee part of the
payroll tax, approve pending free-trade agreements, and pass a measure
to streamline patent procedures.
To call this inadequate would be a gross understatement.
This job recession shows no sign of ending. It can no longer be
blamed on supply-side disruptions from Japan, Europe's debt crisis, high
oil prices, or bad weather.
We're in a vicious cycle where consumers won't buy more because
they're scared of losing their jobs and their pay is dropping. And
businesses won't hire because they don't have enough customers.
Here in Washington, we've been wasting time in a game of chicken over
raising the debt ceiling. Republicans want you to believe the deficit
is responsible for the bad economy. The truth is that when the private
sector cannot and will not spend enough to get the economy going, the
public sector must step into the breach. Cutting the deficit now would
only create more joblessness.
My first priority is to get Americans back to work. I'm proposing a jobs plan that will do that.
First, we'll exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes
for the next two years. This will put cash directly into American's
pockets and boost consumer spending. We'll make up the revenue shortfall
by applying Social Security taxes to incomes over $500,000.
Second, we'll recreate the WPA and Civilian Conservation Corps -- two
of the most successful job innovations of the New Deal -- and put people
back to work directly. The long-term unemployed will help rebuild our
roads and bridges, ports and levees, and provide needed services in our
schools and hospitals. Young people who can't find jobs will reclaim and
improve our national park lands, restore urban parks and public spaces,
recycle products and materials, and insulate public buildings and homes.
Third, we'll enlarge the Earned Income Tax Credit so lower-income Americans have more purchasing power.
Fourth, we'll lend money to cash-strapped state and local governments
so they can rehire teachers, fire fighters, police officers, and others
who provide needed public services. This isn't a bailout. When the
economy improves, scheduled federal outlays to these states and locales
will drop by an amount necessary to recover the loans.
Fifth, we'll amend the bankruptcy laws so struggling homeowners can
declare bankruptcy on their primary residence. This will give them more
bargaining leverage with their lenders to reorganize their mortgage
loans. Why should the owners of commercial property and second homes be
allowed to include these assets in bankruptcy but not regular home
Sixth, we'll extend unemployment benefits to millions of Americans
who have lost part-time jobs. They'll get partial benefits proportional
to the time they put in on the job.
Yes, most of these measures will require more public spending in the
short term. But unless we get this economy moving now, the long-term
deficit problem will only grow worse.
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Some in Congress will fight against this jobs plan on ideological
grounds. They don't like the idea that government exists to help
Americans who need it. And they don't believe we all benefit when jobs
are more plentiful and the economy is growing again.
I am eager to take them on. Average Americans are hurting, and their pain is not going away.
We bailed out Wall Street so that the financial system would not
crash. We stimulated the economy so that businesses would not tank. Now
we must help ordinary people on the Main Streets of America -- for their
own sakes, and also so that the real economy can fully mend.