Obama pushes Jobs Act

On Thursday Sept. 8, President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress and proposed the American Jobs Act, a plan to reduce the current unemployment rate of 9.1 percent.

The plan includes payroll tax cuts, reforms and regulatory reductions to help small businesses and entrepreneurs hire and grow. The provisions of the act also encouraged the hiring of returning veterans and prevention of teacher layoffs.

The proposal concluded with a plan to extend unemployment benefits, provide tax credit incentives to companies hiring unemployed workers and allow Americans to refinance their mortgages to lower interest rates.

In his speech, Obama stated that, "Everything in this bill will be paid for. Everything."

The president intends to finance this $447 billion proposal through his long-term deficit-reduction plan.

Released on Monday Sept. 12, the deficit-reduction plan claims to finance the act, in part, by capping deductions for higher earners and closing tax loopholes for gas and oil companies.

The president also said in his address that, "Everything in here is the kind of proposal that has been supported by both democrats and republicans."

Despite Obama's confidence that it would be received with open minds, the proposal was met with mixed reviews.  

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi declared in her official statements that, "President Obama has put forward a plan and democrats are prepared to act." Not all democrats, however, were in agreement about the bill's feasibility; some are wary of the size of the bill.

"The American people are very skeptical of large pieces of legislation," said Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Other democrats in Congress disapprove of any tax cuts, claiming that the current economic state of our country is a result of tax cuts for big businesses.

Republicans have said that there is room for compromise, but most are united in their belief that tax increases limit the market's hiring ability.

House Speaker John Boehner responded to the president's proposal by stating that, "[Public-sector job creators] have been hurt by a government that offers short-term gimmicks rather than fundamental reforms that will encourage long-term economic growth."  

Students, too, were not united in their opinions regarding Obama's proposal.

"This will hopefully prevent big businesses from escaping taxes and provide a strong base for small businesses to expand and prosper," said freshman international relations major Nicole Theal.   

"Tax cuts for small businesses will allow for expansion," said freshman Kaitlyn Lambert, a political science and international relations double major. "However, unemployment benefits have become increasingly abused and the extension of the benefits may take away incentive to find jobs."   

In regards to how the American Jobs Act will affect the 2012 election, professor Jeffrey Koch, chair of the political science department, said, "The act demonstrates that the president is attempting to prevent an increase in unemployment, but that may not help him in the election."