Obama to address Congress on Sept. 7 on jobs plan
UPDATED 3:22 p.m. ET
"Our nation faces unprecedented economic challenges, and millions of hardworking Americans continue to look for jobs," Mr. Obama wrote in a formal letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid requesting to address both chambers.
"As I have traveled across our country this summer and spoken with our fellow Americans, I have heard a consistent message: Washington needs to put aside politics and start making decisions based on what is best for our country and not what is best for each of our parties in order to grow the economy and create jobs. We must answer this call," Mr. Obama wrote.
"It is our responsibility to find bipartisan solutions to help grow our economy, and if we are willing to put country before party, I am confident we can do just that," Mr. Obama added.
An aide to Boehner said he did not immediately have an official response.
When Mr. Obama first announced earlier this month that he intended to make a big speech in September, a spokesman for Boehner mocked the idea.
"We really don't need another speech -- just a plan, like, on paper. Seriously, just drop it in the mail. Podium not required. Thanks," the spokesman wrote via Twitter.
Asked about the conflict with the Republican presidential debate, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the chosen date for the president's speech is "coincidental."
The debate among the eight GOP candidates is set to take place at the Ronald Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California and jointly hosted with POLITICO and NBC News. Cable channel MSNBC plans to carry the debate live at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh urged Boehner to say no to the September 7th date and offer an alternative date before or after next Wednesday.
"Speaker Boehner must say no to this request. He can say no to this. It is up to the Speaker of House. The president just can't say 'I'm showing up. Put everybody in the audience, I'm coming over to make a speech.' Boehner can say no this. He should say no," Limbaugh said, urging Boehner to say "here are the dates that you can have. September 6,8,9 or 10, you pick one, otherwise no joint session."
Mr. Obama on Monday called restoring the economy the nation's most "urgent mission." He said the ideas he'll propose next week will be steps Congress can take immediately "to put more money in the pockets of working families and middle-class families, to make it easier for small businesses to hire people, to put construction crews to work rebuilding our nation's roads and railways and airports, and all the other measures that can help to grow this economy."
Mr. Obama has in the past endorsed the idea of setting up an infrastructure bank to fund projects like highway and rail construction, and could specifically call on Congress to put that plan into action. He's also talked about renewing a 2-point cut in the payroll tax for employees and extending unemployment benefits -- two other ideas that could be in his speech.
The president has long been pushing for Congress to ratify pending free-trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. The White House and other proponents of the free trade deals say they'll stimulate the economy, but those who oppose the deals fear they would lead to job outsourcing.
Mr. Obama has also hinted he could ask for new incentives for employers to hire more people -- he's already called on Congress to pass a tax credit for companies that hire unemployed veterans, a proposal he touted at the American Legion National Convention on Tuesday.
According to the Associated Press, the White House is considering other ideas, such as a $50 billion school construction initiative, and encouraging businesses to create more jobs in the U.S. by giving them preferred tax rates for bringing foreign sources of income to the U.S.
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