Obama appeals to Congress to pass American Jobs Act

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks during a Rural Economic Forum, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011, at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta, Iowa, during his three-day economic bus tour. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Obama
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

President Obama on Thursday night will appeal to Congress to "stop the political circus" and help him get the economy moving again with a package of spending and tax cut initiatives expected to cost $447 billion.

"The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities," Mr. Obama will say before a joint session of Congress, according to his prepared remarks. "The question tonight is whether we'll meet ours. 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."

Calling his economic package the "American Jobs Act," Mr. Obama plans to tell the legislature that Washington can't turn the economy around itself, but it can provide a boost to the private sector. The bill "will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and hire, there will be customers for their products and services," Mr. Obama will say.

The president will tell Congress, "you should pass this jobs plan right away," arguing that his plan is fully comprised of ideas that have in the past gained bipartisan support. Furthermore, every idea in his bill will be paid for, he'll say.

CBS News has learned the package is expected to include an extension of the payroll tax cut set to expire at the end of the year. That change, which Republicans are opposed to, would cost about $120 billion. Mr. Obama is also expected to ask Congress for another extension of jobless benefits, at a cost of about $50 billion. The president will also call for a major school construction and infrastructure renovation project to the tune of $100 billion.

The president's plan is also anticipated to include requests for a payroll tax cut for employers, aid for state and local governments, a new-hire tax credit, job training for long-term unemployed, the creation of an "infrastructure bank," a mortgage refinancing initiative for homeowners and other ideas.

Republicans have indicated they are skeptical of the president's plan.

"We certainly intend to listen politely to the recommendations the president has, but I think I can pretty confidently say everybody in the Republican conference in the Senate thinks that we need to quit doing what we've been doing," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday.

Still, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor this week identified some areas in which Republicans expect to be able to work with Democrats, including initiatives on infrastructure, unemployment insurance and trade bills.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi today sent a letter to House committee leaders, asking them to act on the president's proposals immediately. But given that Republicans control the House, it's unclear how fast they will act.

Mr. Obama will take his pitch for new stimulus on the road this week, starting with a visit to the University of Richmond on Friday. Next Tuesday, he'll travel to Columbus, Ohio.

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