Allentown, Pa. Even as he heralded the first unemployment drop in months, President Barack Obama began putting the finishing touches Friday on a fresh job creation proposal he’s planning to send to Congress next week.
“I still consider one job lost one job too many,” Obama told a community college crowd in Allentown. “Good trends don’t pay the rent.”
The president plans to outline his list of ideas for a new jobs bill in a speech from Washington on Tuesday. Among the plans he’s likely to endorse is an expansion of a program that gives people cash incentives to fix up their homes with energy-saving materials, senior administration officials said.
Obama also is leaning toward new incentives, either through the tax code or some other means, for small businesses that hire new workers and toward new spending for building roads, bridges and other infrastructure, said the officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the package, and Obama’s speech, are still being crafted and could change.
The president also is open to a federal infusion of money to cash-strapped state and local governments, considered among the quickest and most effective — though expensive — ways to stem layoffs. Officials stressed that Obama probably won’t mention in his speech every job-stimulating idea he will eventually support.
“We need to grow jobs and get America back to work as quickly as we can,” Obama said Friday at Lehigh Carbon Community College. “On Tuesday, I’m going to speak in greater detail about the ideas I’ll be sending to Congress to help jump-start private sector hiring and get Americans back to work.”
Democrats on Capitol Hill have been pushing for a jobs bill for weeks and are pleased that Obama is getting on the same page. Under pressure from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the White House and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are now signaling that tapping unused Wall Street bailout funds to pay for a jobs measure is OK.
Because of growing anxiety about federal deficits, Obama has been stressing that government spending shouldn’t be increased too much. During his jobs discussion with CEOs and academics at the White House on Thursday, he said it is primarily up to private business to create large numbers of new jobs, because “our resources are limited.”
But using the bailout money to pay for a jobs bill would require issuing billions of dollars in new federal debt. And White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday that option is being actively considered.