Washington Under fire in a nation desperate for jobs, President Barack Obama will soon announce a broad package of tax cuts, construction work and help for the millions of Americans who have been unemployed for months, a White House official said Wednesday. Republicans immediately cast doubt about any such plan, setting up a fresh economic showdown as the presidential campaign intensifies.
Obama will unveil his economic strategy in a speech right after Labor Day, hoping to frame the autumn jobs debate by pressuring Republicans in Congress to act or face the voters’ wrath. The country is in a deep state of disgust about Washington politics, piling urgency on both parties to help the economy quickly — or somehow position the other side to take the blame.
To pay for his jobs ideas, Obama will challenge the new “super committee” in Congress to go well beyond its goal of finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, with part of the savings used to cover some of his economy-jolting help without sinking the nation deeper in debt. But there, too, Obama already faces trouble from Republican members who have ruled out tax hikes.
It’s all leading to a sharp campaign for public opinion, the outcome shaping the presidential and congressional elections in 2012.
Obama, as the most visible target for voter ire, is seeking re-election with unemployment north of 9 percent. No incumbent in recent times has won a second term with the jobless rate anywhere near that high.
The final details of Obama’s new economic plan have not been decided, and it is expected to be broader than the proposals known so far.
It is likely to include tax cuts to help the middle class, a build-up-America construction program that goes beyond any infrastructure proposal Obama has had already, and targeted help for the particularly worrisome group of people who have remained unemployed for many months in a row.
A White House official confirmed those details to The Associated Press, on condition of anonymity because the president has not disclosed them publicly.
In Illinois on Wednesday, Obama broadly outlined his plans to help the fragile economy and have the costs covered as part of a broad plan to reduce the deficit. He pledged to present a specific way to do both to the super committee of lawmakers assigned to come up with such a deficit-slicing plan before Thanksgiving.
Previewing his line of argument, Obama has spent much of a three-day bus tour through the Midwest lobbying people to pressure their members of Congress to deal with him.