Obama presses Congress to help out-of-work veterans

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama meets troops during a stop at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, in Hampton, Va, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2011. Obama is on a three-day bus tour promoting the American Jobs Act.
Susan Walsh

President Obama rounded out the third and final day of his bus tour in Virginia urging passage of a piece of his $447 billion jobs plan that aims to help out-of-work veterans find a job.

"Even though so many companies who are here today have committed to hiring our nation's heroes, we want to make it even easier for the businesses that haven't made that commitment yet," Mr. Obama said in remarks to U.S. forces at the Join Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, Virginia.

"We're saying to those veterans who fought for us, now we are fighting for you -- for more jobs, for more security, for the opportunity to keep your families strong, the chance to keep America competitive economically in the 21st century," he added.

The president has spent the past three days in North Carolina and Virginia, two states that will be key for him to win in his re-election bid.

The unemployment rate for men between the ages of 18 and 44 who served on active duty in the past decade - and have since returned to the workforce - was 13.4 percent in September, according to the Labor Department. That compares to a 10.1 percent unemployment rate for men in the same age bracket who did not serve.

The overall unemployment rate was 9.1 percent in September, reflecting about 14 million unemployed workers. The pool of veterans is relatively small compared to the overall workforce. Even if all 183,000 of those unemployed veterans found a job, the overall unemployment rate would not change, the department said.

Mr. Obama has proposed giving a tax credit to small businesses that hire U.S. veterans and an ever larger tax break for companies that hire disable veterans.

"It's the right thing to do for our veterans and it's the right thing to do for America," the president said.

Some analysts question whether businesses will hire workers because of a tax break that is small relative to the size of the new worker's total compensation, particularly if they do not have the increased business to pay for the new worker.

Mr. Obama noted that Congress has not embraced his proposal but he vowed to press for it anyway.

"I want you to know that I'm pushing them a little bit," he said. Added the president: "I'm going to urge members of Congress to take is on whether or not they think it's a good idea to give companies an incentive to hire the men and women who have risked their lives for our country."

  • Corbett Daly On Twitter»

    CBSNews.com Deputy Politics Editor Corbett B. Daly is based in Washington. He has worked at Reuters, Thomson Financial News and CBS MarketWatch.

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