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Obama takes a $447-bn spending bet to create jobs

world Updated: Sep 09, 2011 21:41 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
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As President Obama worked his way past backslapping House representatives, one of them yelled out to him: "Be bold, be brave."

He sought to be both, as he proposed on Thursday a $447-billion spending plan to create jobs - and daring Republicans to not vote for it.

If they didn't, Obama told them, finger pointed in their direction in the House, he would go to the people, every corner of the country. His plan had everything Democrats and Republicans wanted. Pass it, he said, 17 times by one count.

The Republicans, who control the House (Democrats have the Senate), were not too averse to the plan. "(There were a) lots of things both sides can agree on," said majority leader Eric Cantor.

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The US economy is in danger of a double-dip recession, and jobs growth last month was zero, a rare honour that shocked Americans. Obama's approval rating - around 40% - is his lowest ever.

Called the American Jobs Act, Obama's plan proposes increased spending on infrastructure, helping local bodies keep their staff on their rolls, and incentivising small businesses to hire more.

The key aspects of the plan include tax cuts to help small businesses, tax credit to help firms recruit more people, preventing the layoff of about 280,000 teachers and keeping policemen and firefighters on their jobs.

The plan also aims to modernize 35,000 public (state-funded) schools across the US and investments in infrastructure.

The president said the plan is all-paid for - meaning, he is not asking for funds. "Fully paid for as part of the president's long-term deficit reduction plan," said the White House in a document explaining the Act.

Obama said he will release shortly a long-term deficit reduction plan.

The president had a bruising scrap with Republicans over deficit reduction some weeks ago, going down to the last few hours to defaulting on debt repayment. One rating agency downgraded the US blaming Washington's fractious politics.

Will his jobs plan run into the same trouble?

Fact check: Obama's job plan paid for?