Archive for Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Obama lays out job creation plan

December 9, 2009


President's proposals

• Eliminate capital gains tax for investors who buy stock in small firms in 2010 and hold it for at least five years.

• Extend through 2010 the provision of the stimulus program that gives small firms tax breaks on some kinds of spending, such as for new plants or equipment.

• Offer tax incentives to small businesses that make new hires.

• Eliminate fees for small businesses that borrow through major Small Business Administration programs next year.

• Spend up to $50 billion on new construction projects.

• Finance projects that would enhance the underlying strength and productivity of the economy, such as new or improved rail, road or other transportation infrastructure.

• Give rebates to homeowners who make their homes more energy efficient.

• Expand stimulus programs that leverage private investments to create clean-energy manufacturing jobs.

— President Barack Obama on Tuesday presented the broad outlines of a new government effort to spur the creation of jobs, but he left the work of hammering out the specifics to Congress.

And many congressional Democrats are caught in a bind when it comes to jobs: With the unemployment rate at 10 percent and expected to stay high most of next year, they are under pressure to act. But appropriating tens of billions of dollars to ease joblessness could inflame the widespread public concern over the ballooning federal deficit, a focus of ceaseless Republican attack.

Obama called on Congress to work with him on approving a combination of new spending and tax incentives focused on three areas: helping small businesses expand; increasing investments in highways, bridges and other infrastructure; and adding incentives, particularly for consumers, for energy efficiency and green energy.

“There is only so much government can do,” Obama said in a speech at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. “Job creation will ultimately depend on the real job creators: businesses across America.

“But government can help lay the groundwork on which the private sector can better generate jobs, growth and innovation.”

Senior administration officials did not place a price tag on the plan but said the infrastructure component would cost about $50 billion. They suggested the upper limit might be $200 billion.

That’s the amount of money the Treasury Department estimates will be shaved from long-term deficit projections because of lower-than-anticipated losses from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

“This gives us a chance to pay down the deficit faster than we thought possible and to shift funds that would have gone to help the banks on Wall Street to help create jobs on Main Street,” Obama said.

The administration is not proposing to pay for job-creation plans directly using money from the $700 billion TARP fund. But the lower long-term cost of TARP frees up money to spend on job creation without adding to a projected $1.4 trillion budget deficit this year, senior administration officials said.

Some Republicans blasted Obama for not pumping all of the TARP savings, the result of more banks repaying their bailout money, into reducing the deficit, as the law that created the program requires.

“So now they want to use that $200 billion as another slush fund,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Senior administration officials said the only job-creation effort TARP money would be used for would be to continue efforts to encourage small business lending.

Some Democrats suggested that the $200 billion figure cited by Obama would be politically acceptable because of the TARP savings, but others said that any kind of a triple-digit figure attached to the bill would be politically dangerous.

Republicans hammered Obama’s jobs plan.

“You just can’t spend money that we don’t have and keep doing it,” said Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., the Republican whip.


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