written by Drew Brandel
As many football fans anxiously awaited the opening NFL game of the 2011 season, President Obama addressed Congress in a televised announcement of the new “American Jobs Act.” The President asked the legislators to remember that average Americans are not interested in what he called “the political circus” but are instead doing everything they can to support their families. A national economic recovery will be driven by America’s businesses and workers, but, according to Obama, this does not excuse political leaders from working together to find reasonable solutions. Therefore, he called for Democrats and Republicans to unite in support of the American Jobs Act, emphasizing that “everything in this bill will be paid for.”
Obama summarized the plan as an attempt to get displaced workers back in the job market and to place more money in the wallets of Americans who have managed to keep their jobs through the economic downturn. According to Obama’s explanation of the plan, “companies who hire new workers” would receive tax breaks. Attempting to appeal to republican legislators, he stated that some of the tax cuts included in the Jobs Act had been proposed by 50 House Republicans.
Introducing parts of the plan involving teachers and education, the President iterated that although the conditions of many American schools need to be physically improved, “every child deserves a great school,” and immediate government action is required if this is to become a reality. Approving this plan would be one of the first steps, according to Obama, as it would fund repairs and improvements for thousands of our nation’s schools. He lamented the fact that competing nations, notably South Korea, are currently adding teachers while economic strains are forcing American school districts to drastically reduce the number of teaching positions available. President Obama presented his proposed solution simply, saying to Congress, “pass this bill and put our teachers back in the classroom where they belong.”
Just days before the tenth anniversary of the 2001 attacks, Obama praised America’s veterans for their service and said that businesses that hire them will receive tax incentives under the proposed plan. Young people looking for summer employment and “anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job” would also benefit from the Jobs Act because of tax breaks for companies who give them jobs. Additionally, the American Jobs Act would extend unemployment insurance and expand household tax breaks that were approved over the summer. Both of these aspects of the plan are essential, Obama said, to ensure that American families continue to stimulate the national economy.
The President explained that spending cuts approved over the summer and congressional plans to find $1.5 trillion more in savings would need to combine with a new deficit plan to cover the cost of the new jobs bill. Obama mentioned tax code reforms and the need to reform Medicare to ensure that workers will continue to receive benefits during retirement. Warning that the nation’s leaders must avoid focusing on the immediate economic problems, he advocated doing “what’s right for our future” by creating domestic jobs and improving the education system so that America’s children can succeed in an increasingly competitive international economy when they finish school. He admitted that wasteful government spending needs to be eliminated and promised that many necessary reforms had already been identified. However, he reminded his audience that despite our nation’s history of self-reliance, a “belief that we’re all connected” also pervades the history of America, indicating that this is “a nation with responsibilities to ourselves and to one another.”
Finally, President Obama urged Congress to stop thinking politically, assuming that differences will just have to be settled through the next election because the American people are expecting politicians to do the jobs they were hired to do now. The address continued with encouragement to the viewers at home to remember that “we are tougher than the times we live in, and we are bigger than our politics have been, so . . . let’s get to work.”