President Barack Obama will lay out a $300 billion job-creation package before a joint session of Congress in a nationally televised speech this evening at 7 p.m. EDT. The president is expected to make tax cuts for middle-class households and businesses the centerpiece of his plan, which will require bipartisan support if it is going to be instituted by year’s end. The president will also press for new spending to repair roads, bridges, and other deteriorating infrastructure — spending that could create thousands of jobs around the country.
High unemployment that has been showing no signs of improvement is responsible for heightened fears that the economy could be headed for another recession. The economy added no net jobs in August, and the unemployment rate held steady at 9.1% as Obama and Congress found themselves at a budget standoff in Washington that rattled Americans’ faith in their government. The European debt crises also contributed to concerns about the global economy.
The president will announce the renewal of payroll tax cuts for workers first passed last December, as well as tax cuts meant to encourage businesses to hire. With opinion polls showing public approval of the president waning, many are calling Obama’s speech tonight a major leadership moment in which he makes or breaks his chance at winning the 2012 election. Of course, he will have to follow through on the plan, finding support on both sides of the aisle if he it is going to be instituted by 2012.
The two top House Republicans, Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, have already signaled that they would be open to working with Obama this time around. Both say they are amenable to some infrastructure spending, as well as to a program Obama plans to pitch that would help train unemployed workers. However, until the president has presented his plan and Congress has had a chance to comb through its many programs, whether Obama will ultimately be able to garner the necessary support to institute his plan remains to be seen.