US President Barack Obama will try to co-opt the anger of Americans stifled by the stagnant economy to punish Republicans at the polls if they kill the jobs plan he unveils on Thursday, Democrats say.
Obama will submit The American Jobs Act to a bitterly divided Congress “early next week,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said early Thursday, putting pressure on members to pass a bill which Carney insisted is bipartisan in nature.
“Therefore, given the fact that (the initiatives) are paid for, given the fact that the economy needs help and that Americans need help, Congress should act right away” to pass the measure, he told CNN.
But even before Obama basks in the pomp of a joint session of Congress to debut the plan at 7pm (0900 AEST Friday), Republicans are warning that Obama’s policies on issues like business regulation have been a “wet blanket” for the economy.
The speech marks a vital moment for Obama’s presidency, 14 months before he asks voters for a second term, as his approval ratings plumb new depths and polls show the public’s trust in his economic management is waning.
The plan is expected to include infrastructure spending, an extension of a workers payroll tax cut, and other measures designed to convince small businesses to hire new workers and put a dent in 9.1 per cent unemployment.
The White House says the president is sincere about courting bipartisan support for measures that will quickly create jobs and improve wages for the middle class, all while trimming the bulging budget deficit.
“He is very serious about taking measures that are responsible, that have enjoyed bipartisan support, and are the kinds that have direct and quick impact on the economy and on jobs,” Carney said.
But given the dysfunction in Washington, Democrats familiar with the plan say that if it does not make it through Congress, Obama will lambaste Republicans for ignoring those trapped in the jobless crisis.
Obama believes he has a clear plan, which could total at least $US300 billion ($A281.9 billion), to offer urgent relief to the economy amid slowed growth and fractured consumer confidence, the sources said.
Then, if Congress has not acted by the end of December, as election year 2012 dawns, he will make a sharp contrast with Republicans whom he will say put politics before their country and ignored a needy economy, the Democrats said.
One Democrat with knowledge of the jobs plan said Republicans would have to face voters at the polls next year to answer the question of why they refused to act when the economy was in such trouble.
Obama has already said his initiative will include an effort to hire construction workers to repair America’s creaking infrastructure and an extension of an employee payroll tax cut.
Carney said the plan will unveil some “new ideas” and include “tax relief and infrastructure spending, assistance to communities to help rebuild their schools, assistance to states to help retain teachers so teachers aren’t laid off.”
Analysts expect funds to be earmarked for local government, which has been laying off thousands of teachers and other workers, and also an employer tax break to encourage hiring.
To counter Republicans who will oppose any extra government programs on principle, the White House is promising expenditures will be offset by cuts in other areas.
But Republicans, empowered by the ultra-conservative Tea Party’s anti-government crusade, are already mustering against Obama’s plan as a debate over the very role and function of government in the economy intensifies.
They argue that Obama’s policies are directly to blame for the economy’s failure to roar back to life after the worst recession since the 1930s.
“We don’t hold the president responsible for problems that he inherited,” said Republican Senator Lamar Alexander.
“But we do think he ought to be responsible for making the economy worse by throwing… a big wet blanket over job creation.”
Republican Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell added: “If government spending were the answer, we’d be in the middle of a boom right now.”