Obama’s Jobs Speech: Rhetoric or Change ?

Finally Obama showed a little courage ! “Obama said Congress had to choose between millionaires and teachers : he knew what Americans wanted. He said: ‘This isn’t political grandstanding. This isn’t class warfare. This is simple math … 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’. Opinion polls show rising dissatisfaction with the response of the Republicans in Congress. While Obama’s popularity has slipped to new lows, he is still better liked that the Republicans . Democrats stood frequently to applaud what was a strongly partisan speech while, for the most part, Republicans sat in grim silence. The Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, said: “This isn’t a jobs plan. It’s a re-election plan [!!]” If Republicans in Congress block his plans, Obama has a Plan B, proposing to go out on the campaign trail blaming them for obstructionism”, the media reported. The first American comments were interesting: “We need growth and jobs. Not cuts and rightwing ideology. Boehner looks uneasy. Excellent sign. I liked his idea about tax credits to companies who hire people who’ve been unemployed for 6+ months. Helluva good speech. Best he’s given since he got elected. The Republicans would rather see the USA collapse than Obama get another term. The stimulus would be popular and would succeed in creating jobs. The Republicans are offering up a bag of mixed nuts and austerity as the alternative “. Here are excerpts of Obama’s jobs speech in Congress:

“Tonight we meet at an urgent time for our country. We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that has made things worse … the millions of Americans who are watching right now: they don’t care about politics. They have real life concerns. Many have spent months looking for work. Others are doing their best just to scrape by -giving up nights out with the family to save on gas or make the mortgage; postponing retirement to send a kid to college … for decades now, Americans have watched that compact erode. They have seen the deck too often stacked against them. And they know that Washington hasn’t always put their interests first … The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. 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; whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning . Those of us here tonight can’t solve all of our nation’s woes. Ultimately, our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our businesses and our workers. But we can help. We can make a difference. There are steps we can take right now to improve people’s lives. I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away. It’s called the American Jobs Act. There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans – including many who sit here tonight. And everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything. The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working . It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for the long-term unemployed. It will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business . It 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. You should pass this jobs plan right away … Pass this jobs bill, and all small business owners will also see their payroll taxes cut in half next year. If you have 50 employees making an average salary, that’s an $80,000 tax cut . And all businesses will be able to continue writing off the investments they make in 2012″

“Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us an economic superpower. And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads? At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America? There are private construction companies all across America just waiting to get to work. There’s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America. A public transit project in Houston that will help clear up one of the worst areas of traffic in the country. And there are schools throughout this country that desperately need renovating. How can we expect our kids to do their best in places that are literally falling apart? This is America. Every child deserves a great school – and we can give it to them, if we act now. The American Jobs Act will repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools … Pass this jobs bill, and thousands of teachers in every state will go back to work. These are the men and women charged with preparing our children for a world where the competition has never been tougher. But while they’re adding teachers in places like South Korea, we’re laying them off in droves. It’s unfair to our kids. It undermines their future and ours. And it has to stop. Pass this jobs bill, and put our teachers back in the classroom where they belong … We ask these men and women to leave their careers, leave their families, and risk their lives to fight for our country. The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home. Pass this bill, and hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged young people will have the hope and dignity of a summer job next year . And their parents, low-income Americans who desperately want to work, will have more ladders out of poverty. Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get a $4,000 tax credit if they hire anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job … The plan also extends unemployment insurance for another year. If the millions of unemployed Americans stopped getting this insurance, and stopped using that money for basic necessities, it would be a devastating blow to this economy. Democrats and Republicans in this Chamber have supported unemployment insurance plenty of times in the past. At this time of prolonged hardship, you should pass it again – right away . Pass this jobs bill, and the typical working family will get a fifteen hundred dollar tax cut next year. Fifteen hundred dollars that would have been taken out of your paycheck will go right into your pocket … if we refuse to act, middle-class families will get hit with a tax increase at the worst possible time. We cannot let that happen. I know some of you have sworn oaths to never raise any taxes on anyone for as long as you live. Now is not the time to carve out an exception and raise middle-class taxes, which is why you should pass this bill right away .”

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“And here’s the other thing I want the American people to know: the American Jobs Act will not add to the deficit. It will be paid for. And here’s how: … A week from Monday, I’ll be releasing a more ambitious deficit plan -a plan that will not only cover the cost of this jobs bill, but stabilize our debt in the long run. This approach is basically the one I’ve been advocating for months. In addition to the trillion dollars of spending cuts I’ve already signed into law, it’s a balanced plan that would reduce the deficit by making additional spending cuts; by making modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid [!]; and by reforming our tax code in a way that asks the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share … Now, I realize there are some in my party who don’t think we should make any changes at all to Medicare and Medicaid, and I understand their concerns . But here’s the truth. Millions of Americans rely on Medicare in their retirement. And millions more will do so in the future. They pay for this benefit during their working years. They earn it. But with an aging population and rising health care costs, we are spending too fast to sustain the program. And if we don’t gradually reform the system while protecting current beneficiaries, it won’t be there when future retirees need it. We have to reform Medicare to strengthen it. I’m also well aware that there are many Republicans who don’t believe we should raise taxes on those who are most fortunate and can best afford it . But here is what every American knows. While most people in this country struggle to make ends meet, a few of the most affluent citizens and corporations enjoy tax breaks and loopholes that nobody else gets. Right now, Warren Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary – an outrage he has asked us to fix. We need a tax code where everyone gets a fair shake, and everybody pays their fair share … Our tax code shouldn’t give an advantage to companies that can afford the best-connected lobbyists. It should give an advantage to companies that invest and create jobs here in America . So we can reduce this deficit, pay down our debt, and pay for this jobs plan in the process. But in order to do this, we have to decide what our priorities are. We have to ask ourselves, “What’s the best way to grow the economy and create jobs?” Should we keep tax loopholes for oil companies? Or should we use that money to give small business owners a tax credit when they hire new workers? Because we can’t afford to do both. Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs? Right now, we can’t afford to do both. This isn’t political grandstanding. This isn’t class warfare. This is simple math. These are real choices that we have to make. And I’m pretty sure I know what most Americans would choose. It’s not even close. And it’s time for us to do what’s right for our future.

“We now live in a world where technology has made it possible for companies to take their business anywhere. If we want them to start here and stay here and hire here, we have to be able to out-build, out-educate, and out-innovate every other country on Earth … To help responsible homeowners, we’re going to work with Federal housing agencies to help more people refinance their mortgages at interest rates that are now near 4% -a step that can put more than $2,000 a year in a family’s pocket, and give a lift to an economy still burdened by the drop in housing prices … If Americans can buy Kias and Hyundais, I want to see folks in South Korea driving Fords and Chevys and Chryslers. I want to see more products sold around the world stamped with three proud words: ‘Made in America.’ … If we provide the right incentives and support and if we make sure our trading partners play by the rules we can be the ones to build everything from fuel-efficient cars to advanced biofuels to semiconductors that are sold all over the world. That’s how America can be number one again … Now, I realize that some of you have a different theory on how to grow the economy. Some of you sincerely believe that the only solution to our economic challenges is to simply cut most government spending and eliminate most government regulations. Well, I agree that we can’t afford wasteful spending, and I will continue to work with Congress to get rid of it. And I agree that there are some rules and regulations that put an unnecessary burden on businesses at a time when they can least afford it. That’s why I ordered a review of all government regulations. So far, we’ve identified over 500 reforms, which will save billions of dollars over the next few years. We should have no more regulation than the health, safety, and security of the American people require. Every rule should meet that common sense test . But what we can’t do what I won’t do is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades. I reject the idea that we need to ask people to choose between their jobs and their safety. I reject the argument that says for the economy to grow, we have to roll back protections that ban hidden fees by credit card companies, or rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury, or laws that prevent the health insurance industry from shortchanging patients. I reject the idea that we have to strip away collective bargaining rights to compete in a global economy. We shouldn’t be in a race to the bottom, where we try to offer the cheapest labor and the worst pollution standards. America should be in a race to the top. And I believe that’s a race we can win . In fact, this larger notion that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everyone’s money, let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own that’s not who we are. That’s not the story of America. Yes, we are rugged individualists. Yes, we are strong and self-reliant. And it has been the drive and initiative of our workers and entrepreneurs that has made this economy the engine and envy of the world. But there has always been another thread running throughout our history a belief that we are all connected; and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation.”

“We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. But in the middle of a Civil War, he was also a leader who looked to the future – a Republican president who mobilized government to build the transcontinental railroad; launch the National Academy of Sciences; and set up the first land grant colleges. And leaders of both parties have followed the example he set. Ask yourselves – where would we be right now if the people who sat here before us decided not to build our highways and our bridges; our dams and our airports? What would this country be like if we had chosen not to spend money on public high schools, or research universities, or community colleges? Millions of returning heroes, including my grandfather, had the opportunity to go to school because of the GI Bill. Where would we be if they hadn’t had that chance? How many jobs would it have cost us if past Congresses decided not to support the basic research that led to the Internet and the computer chip? What kind of country would this be if this Chamber had voted down Social Security or Medicare just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could or could not do? How many Americans would have suffered as a result? No single individual built America on their own . We built it together. We have been, and always will be, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all; a nation with responsibilities to ourselves and with responsibilities to one another. Members of Congress, it is time for us to meet our responsibilities … I know there’s been a lot of skepticism about whether the politics of the moment will allow us to pass this jobs plan or any jobs plan. Already, we’re seeing the same old press releases and tweets flying back and forth. Already, the media has proclaimed that it’s impossible to bridge our differences. And maybe some of you have decided that those differences are so great that we can only resolve them at the ballot box. But know this: the next election is fourteen months away. And the people who sent us here -the people who hired us to work for them -they don’t have the luxury of waiting fourteen months. Some of them are living week to week; paycheck to paycheck; even day to day. They need help, and they need it now . I don’t pretend that this plan will solve all our problems. It shouldn’t be, nor will it be, the last plan of action we propose. What’s guided us from the start of this crisis hasn’t been the search for a silver bullet. It’s been a commitment to stay at it -to be persistent- to keep trying every new idea that works, and listen to every good proposal, no matter which party comes up with it … I also ask every American who agrees to lift your voice and tell the people who are gathered here tonight that you want action now. Tell Washington that doing nothing is not an option … These are difficult years for our country. But we are Americans. We are tougher than the times that we live in, and we are bigger than our politics have been. So let’s meet the moment. Let’s get to work, and show the world once again why the United States of America remains the greatest nation on Earth. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America”

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