Opening up October with a weekly address, President Barack Obama came out rallying on behalf of the gestating American Jobs Act. The proposed bill has idled in the U.S. Congress for roughly three weeks since its White House send off.
Despite President Obama’s call, many in Congress have found points of contention within a bill that aims to cut taxes for small businesses, prevent up to 280,000 teacher layoffs, modernize schools and cut payroll taxes in half for 160 million workers next year, among other proposals.
“It’s time for Congress to get its act together and pass this jobs bill so I can sign it into law,” Obama said in his address, not long after a nationwide tour in which he advocated on behalf of the bill.
Obama went on to add that “economists from across the political spectrum have said this jobs bill would boost the economy and spur hiring. Why would you be against that?”
Obama’s plea comes as one in a series of efforts to evoke constituent pressure on a recently divisive Congress.
Most of the contention comes from across the aisle, where many Republicans have raised issue with the $447 billion dollar bill, citing the large expense as problematic.
In a September press release, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor came out with vocal skepticism in regards to bill’s funding.
“I sure hope that the president is not suggesting that we pay for his proposals with a massive tax increase at the end of 2012 on job creators,” Cantor said in a press release, referring to recent support for an increased tax on the richest one percent of Americans.
According to the White House website, however, the American Jobs Act would not be paid for by a tax increase, but through “additional deficit reduction” designated by the Joint Committee, a measure intended to ensure that the deficit target may still be reached while freeing up funds to pay for the bill.
“This jobs bill is fully paid for,” Obama said in the same weekly address.
When asked whether aligned with other economists in favor of the act, UC Davis economics professor Gregory Clark agreed that the bill would help inject some needed life into the economy.
“The bill will provide some stimulus to the economy, but it will be limited,” said Professor Clark in an e-mail interview. “In the current economic climate, where households are struggling to reduce debt, and firms are holding large stocks of cash, many of these tax reductions will not be spent, providing no economic stimulus.”
Among many proposals in the bill, one may hold special importance to young adults, recent graduates and students in search of present or future employment. The bill would aim to expand job opportunities for low-income youth and adults through a fund for subsidized employment, innovative training programs and summer/year-round jobs for youth, according to the White House website.
When asked whether he thought the bill could help with student employment, Clark said, “The bill will have a positive, but extremely limited, effect.”
“It would be better to directly subsidize state governments which are engaged in large scale reductions of expenditure at present,” he added.
Despite pressure from Obama and strong public support, it remains unlikely that the act will pass as is through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
“This isn’t about giving me a win, and it’s not about [Republicans],” Obama said in his public address, among numerous other remarks made in recent days about perceived Republican obstinacy. “This is about what the American people want.”
Clark offered Davis students this bittersweet sentiment: “The economy will eventually start to grow again, as the mortgage debt crisis unwinds, and consumer debt declines. But the outlook for employment in the next few years is bad. Many of you will be moving back in with your parents for an extended period – so be really nice to them now.”
One Jobs Act will not, according to Clark, prevent us all from moving back in with our parents – a lurking inevitability sensed by many, that not all Americans may get what they want.
JAMES O’HARA can be reached at email@example.com.