Cut taxes, Obama tells Congress in $450B jobs plan

By Ben Feller

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Sept. 8 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

The president said he would make his case to the public and will waste no time taking his sales pitch on the road. His first stop will be on Friday at the University of Richmond in the Virginia congressional district of House majority Leader Eric Cantor, a frequent critic of the president's policies.

Politics shadowed every element of Obama's speech. He appealed to people watching on TV to lobby lawmakers to act. He did the same thing before his speech in an email to campaign supporters, bringing howls of hypocrisy from Republicans who wondered why Obama was telling them to put party above country.

The American public is weary of talk and wary of promises that help is on the way.

And the window for action is shrinking before the 2012 presidential election swallows up everything.

Under soaring expectations for results, Obama sought to put himself on the side of voters who he said could not care less about the political consequences of his speech. "The next election if 14 months away," Obama said, adding that the people who hired every elected leader in the room need help "and they need it now."

Administration officials bristle whenever critics of their original stimulus plan note that it did not live up to the job creation estimates the White House issued in 2009. As a result, the White House is leaving it to outside economists to render their verdict on the new plan.

Mark Zandi, one of several economists asked by the White House to evaluate the president's proposal ahead of his speech, said that if enacted it would add 1.9 million jobs and reduce the unemployment rate by one percentage point. Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics, said the expanded payroll tax cut would be responsible for the most increase in hiring, adding about 750,000 jobs. The tax cut for employers, he said, would add about 300,000 new jobs

As to paying for it, Obama will ask a special debt panel in Congress to find enough savings to cover the costs of his ideas. He says he'll release specifics a week from Monday along with a proposal to stabilize the country's long-term debt.

The president said deepening the payroll tax cut would save an average family making $50,000 a year about $1,500 compared to what they would if Congress did not extend the current tax cut.

"I know some of you have sworn oaths to never raise any taxes on anyone for as long as you live," Obama said, a reference to the conservative tea party influence on many House Republicans. "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."

No incumbent president in recent history has won re-election with the unemployment rate anywhere near the current 9.1 percent.

Obama's jobs plan put a special emphasis on the long-term unemployed — those who have been out of work for six months or more. He repeated his calls for a one-year extension of unemployment insurance in order to prevent up to 6 million people from losing their benefits, and he proposed a $4,000 tax credit for businesses that hire workers who have been out of work for more than six months.

Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn, Darlene Superville, Julie Pace and Erica Werner contributed to this report.

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