WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is keeping up his appeal for public support of his $447 billion proposal to boost jobs and consumer spending by urging Americans to press Congress to pass the legislation. "No more division or delay," he said.
In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, he focused on a message that has become central to a presidency struggling to address stubbornly high unemployment numbers and dipping approval of his handling of the economy.
The president announced his jobs legislation to a joint session of Congress last week and has since gone outside Washington to build a case for its passage. He has been to Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina.
"The No. 1 issue for the people I meet is how we can get back to a place where we're creating good, middle-class jobs that pay well and offer some security," he said.
His address Saturday came in the face of sobering public opinion ratings for the president.
A New York Times/CBS News poll released Friday showed nearly half of those surveyed worried the economy was headed for another recession and nearly three out of four said they believe the country is on the wrong track.
Obama's proposal would reduce payroll taxes on workers, cut them in half for most businesses and offer incentives for employers to hire. It would spend tens of billions of dollars on new public works projects, extend unemployment benefits for long-term jobless and help states and localities avoid layoffs of teachers and emergency workers.
On Monday, Obama plans to spell out a long-term debt stabilizing plan that aims to cut the deficit by about $2 trillion over 10 years. Obama is making his proposal to a special congressional committee that has been charged with lowering deficit by $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion.
"But right now, we've got to get Congress to pass this jobs bill," Obama said.
Obama's jobs plan has received a tepid reception from Republicans, who are willing to consider some of his tax relief proposals, but not his spending plans. His proposal to pay for the plan with limits on tax deductions and closing corporate tax loopholes is facing stiff GOP resistance and even Democrats have pushed back on some of those provisions in the past.
In an interview with MSNBC that aired Saturday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said simply approving tax cuts without including spending on public works and local and state government assistance would not do enough to spur the economy.
"To take one piece or another, it doesn't create the dynamism we need," she said.
Still, despite his demand for quick passage, Obama is not likely to get immediate action even in the Democratic-led Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid has said there are some other issues that need to be dealt with first, including transportation money.
In the Republican address, Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois called on Obama to reduce regulations on businesses, saying government agency rules were choking off hiring. "Washington has become a red tape factory," he said.
He acknowledged Obama's decision to scrub a clean-air regulation that aimed to reduce health-threatening smog. "He can cancel more," Roskam said.
He pressed Obama to push the Democratic-controlled Senate to adopt House Republican initiatives, including legislation that would give Congress veto power over certain high-cost regulations.
"Job creators should be able to focus on their work - not on Washington's busy-work," he said.
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