WASHINGTON (AP) — Wasting no time, President Obama is pitching to the public his $447 billion jobs program of tax cuts and new spending after bluntly telling Congress to “stop the political circus” and fix the economy.
But that doesn’t mean Republicans are buying.
“The proposals the president outlined tonight merit consideration,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday after Obama, in a nationally televised address to Congress, laid out an agenda that leaned heavily on payroll tax cuts to put money into the economy. “We hope he gives serious consideration to our ideas as well.
“It’s my hope that we can work together,” Boehner added.
While noncommittal, it was one of the more generous reactions from Republicans to a speech from a Democratic president in political trouble seeking bipartisanship to repair a long-ailing economy.
“You should pass it right away,” the president told lawmakers more than once and pledged to campaign for its enactment “in every corner of this country.” To that end, Obama set his first trip for today to Richmond, Va., a city represented by the No. 2 Republican in the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
There were other hints that Obama intends to carry the fight to Republicans, including his statement that “there’s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky” — the states that sent Boehner and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to Congress.
In a statement issued after the speech, McConnell said, “For months, we’ve been engaged in a national debate about spending and debt, about the need to get our nation’s fiscal house in order, about the need to rein in government. ... Yet here we are, tonight, being asked by this same president to support even more government spending with the assurance that he’ll figure out a way to pay for it later.”
Obama offered no estimate of the number of jobs his plan would create. He said the tax cuts he is recommending would mean $1,500 a year for the typical working family and $80,000 for businesses with 50 employees of average pay. Unemployment has been stuck at 9.1 percent for two consecutive months and not even the administration is projecting significant improvement anytime soon.
With a nod to deficit hawks — independent voters among them — Obama also said he would outline legislation in coming days to offset the bill’s $447 billion price tag so it wouldn’t add to federal deficits.
As the president was preparing for his speech Thursday morning, he was briefed on what counterterrorism officials are calling a credible but unconfirmed terror threat involving New York or Washington. He directed the counterterrorism community to redouble its efforts, a White House official said.
The threat was so specific, and coming at a time of already heightened security just days before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, that it could not be ignored, a counterterrorism official told The Associated Press. The official requested anonymity to discuss sensitive security information.
Officials would not tell the AP what specifically is being targeted in New York or Washington or the timing of a potential attack. A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the terror alert has not been raised because of the threat.
A law enforcement official in New York, also speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security information, described the threat as credible but declined to give details.
Information gleaned from Osama bin Laden’s compound in May indicated that al-Qaida had considered attacking the U.S. on the 10th anniversary and other important dates. Security has been enhanced around the country, including in New York and Washington, in the weeks leading up to Sunday’s anniversary.
Published in The Messenger 9.9.11