Wednesday at 4:00 PM Eastern Time, Michael Pyle, Special Assistant to the President for Financial and International Markets, and Roberto Rodriguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy, met with mediator Ronnie Cho to address questions submitted by youth across America pertaining to the American Jobs Act. The questions were submitted to the White House Open for Questions panel through Facebook, Twitter, and an online White House forum.
Obama’s proposed Jobs Act consists of five parts, each designed to lower the unemployment rate and put more money into the pockets of America’s workers. The questions chosen by Cho, an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement, addressed each of these key issues:
1. Tax Cuts to Help America’s Small Businesses Grow and Hire
Many young adults are struggling to find jobs in today’s economy. The root cause of this is, obviously, that many businesses are simply not hiring. The President proposes tax cuts that will benefit every small business (98% of America’s companies) nationwide. These tax cuts will allow small business owners to expand without placing a huge financial burden on their companies. The health of our economy lies in our small businesses; if they are hiring, the unemployment rate will plummet.
2. Putting Workers Back on the Job While Rebuilding and Modernizing America
Many public institutions such as schools and community colleges are desperately in need of modernization. The President proposes to invest $25 million in public schools and $5 billion in community colleges in order to bring them up to date. He also plans to prevent lay-offs of teachers, police officers, and firefighters through a $35 billion investment to help states and localities prevent budget-driven layoffs. Reduction of lay-offs and improvement of schools and community colleges is a great way to ensure higher-quality education, leading to a more productive and employable generation of young workers.
3. Pathways Back to Work for Young People Looking for Jobs
More and more teenagers and young adults struggle to find summer jobs or steady employment after graduation, and those lucky enough to have landed jobs may already be facing unemployment due to the slow economy. This issue was the main focus of Open for Questions, as many of the submitted questions, and even mediator Cho’s question, focused on providing jobs for young Americans. There are many proposed programs addressing this issue, including the “Bridge to Work” program, which Rodriguez described as a way for previously employed young adults to engage in part-time or volunteer work while continuing to receive unemployment benefits.
4. Tax Relief for Every American Worker and Family
In order to allow young Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money, Obama plans to cut the payroll tax in half next year. This will benefit the 45.5 million people under 30 who pay payroll taxes.
5. Fully Paid For As Part of the President’s Long-Term Deficit Reduction Plan
One concerned Open Questions participant asked about how all these programs and tax cuts will be paid for. Pyle described how the American Jobs Act is included in Obama’s long-term plans for deficit reduction.
All of this sounds great, and I would love to jump on the bandwagon for the American Jobs Act. But my question (which did not get selected) is: How are we going to make sure that the American Jobs Act ensures long-term improvements in the economy and unemployment rate?
I am 23 years old and have few responsibilities. I only need to feed and clothe myself. I could move back in with my parents if I really needed to. While it would be great to have a permanent, salaried job with benefits right now, I am more concerned about ten or fifteen years down the road when I am married, have a family and need to save for retirement while making mortgage payments.
The American Jobs Act is a step in the right direction, but next year’s tax cuts don’t give me a lot of hope that the President is laying down infrastructure for the next twenty years. I am glad that the White House provided America’s youth with the opportunity to ask questions about how this proposed act will affect us over the next year or two — but there ultimately needs to be more focus on the long-term for the American Jobs Act to succeed.
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