President Barack Obama on Tuesday unveiled a loose framework of tax cuts and spending programs he asked lawmakers to incorporate quickly into a "jobs stimulus" bill.
Many of his proposals, unveiled during a speech at the Brookings Institution this morning, offer tax breaks and fee reductions to small businesses that hire new workers. Others are extensions of programs passed earlier this year as part of the $787-billion recovery act.
"Our economy is growing for the first time in a year – and the swing from contraction to expansion since the beginning of the year is the largest in nearly three decades," Obama said. "But our work is far from done. For even though we have reduced the deluge of job losses to a relative trickle, we are not yet creating jobs at a pace to help all those families who have been swept up in the flood."
Obama's version of the jobs package would cut the capital gains tax for small businesses to zero, while permitting new deductions and incentives for employers who invest. It would also introduce a new tax cut for businesses that hire next year.
Additionally, the proposal would permit more spending on infrastructure and offer new rebates to consumers who make their homes energy efficient -- much as the federal stimulus previously authorized. Obama also called on Congress to consider extending unemployment insurance benefits beyond what Congress approved earlier this year, and to enact subsidies for those who can no longer afford healthcare that have already expired.
Ultimately, securing sufficient support on a job stimulus bill could prove difficult. Republicans in particular have taken issue with Democrats' plan to use about $200 billion of recouped bank bailout money to pay for the bill. Others, from both political camps, would instead prefer Congress to save its money and focus exclusively on the deficit.
Still, the president stressed on Tuesday importance of passing some assistance package as soon as possible.
"We have seen the consequences of this failure of responsibility. The American people have paid a heavy price," Obama said of the proposal. "But I have every hope and expectation that we can rise to this moment, that we can transcend the failures of the past, that we can once again take responsibility for our future," he added.