Obama Rolls Out Jobs Initiatives – Prescribes Booster Shot for the Recovery Act

On Dec. 8 President Barack Obama laid out his prescriptions for job creation before the press and enthusiastic academics at The Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. Obama’s initiatives focused on much needed help for small business owners, infrastructure improvements, and energy conservation; in short, his proposals would be a booster shot for the much maligned, but arguably beneficial and ongoing, economic stimulus package passed shortly after taking office. 

The stated goal of Obama’s jobs plan: 

Small business, infrastructure, clean energy — these are areas in which we can put Americans to work while putting our nation on a sturdier economic footing.  That foundation for sustained economic growth — that must be our continuing focus and our ultimate goal.

If there was a consistent theme to Obama’s jobs address it was cautious optimism.  He acknowledged the difficulties faced by Americans during two years of economic recession, and that there will be “difficult months ahead,” but that “the storms of the past are receding.”

“The skies are brightening.  And the horizon is beckoning once more,” Obama concluded.

Obama’s Proposals:

Here are some of Obama’s targeted proposals for job creation.  They are intended “to accelerate job creation in the short term, while laying a foundation for sustained economic growth.”:

  • Additional help for small businesses.
    • “…proposing to waive fees and increase the guarantees for SBA-backed loans.”
    • Obama to advise Treasury Secretary “to mobilize remaining TARP funds to facilitate lending to small businesses.”
    • “We’re proposing a complete elimination of capital gains taxes on small business investment.”
  • Building upon progress made with the National Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
    • “Proposing a boost in investment in the nation’s infrastructure beyond what was included in the Recovery Act.”
    • Extending emergency assistance to seniors, unemployment insurance benefits, and subsidies for COBRA.
  • Obama announced, “a new program to provide incentives for consumers who retrofit their homes to become more energy efficient.”

How much will it cost?

Obama’s mention of the TARP funds — $200 billion, already part of the deficit forecast, but not yet spent — was as close as he got to applying a price tag to the above initiatives.  No doubt, this is where his critics will focus their attack.

Already, as Jill Lawrence noted at Politics Daily, House Minority Leader John Boehner issued an all-caps headline, “BIG IDEA IN THE PRESIDENT’S BIG SPEECH: CONTINUE THE DEFICIT SPENDING BINGE.”

Anticipating this, the president included some harsh words for Republican deficit hawks:  (Emphasis added)

Folks passed tax cuts and expansive entitlement programs without paying for any of it — even as health care costs kept rising, year after year.  As a result, the deficit had reached $1.3 trillion when we walked into the White House.  And I’d note:  These budget-busting tax cuts and spending programs were approved by many of the same people who are now waxing political about fiscal responsibility, while opposing our efforts to reduce deficits by getting health care costs under control.  It’s a sight to see.

The cynics will do and say what they must.  Republicans have spent every day since Obama’s inauguration feigning outrage over government spending, simultaneously claiming no responsibility for the record setting money hole, that was the George W. Bush administration.  A sight to see, indeed.

Will these initiatives succeed in creating jobs? 

According to Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, we need to know more about how much money will spent.

Krugman was one of many economists sounding the alarm that the Recovery Act wouldn’t be sufficient.  In his Nov. 29 New York Times column, he recommended direct government employment programs, perhaps more ambitious than Obama laid out at the Brookings Institute.

In a blog post following the speech, Krugman wrote:

…it can’t be done without a significant amount of funds. If Robert Reich is right and it’s only $70 billion, it’s a Potemkin policy — all facade, virtually no substance.

How big do the numbers have to be to make it serious? It’s hard to see much impact with less than $200 billion — and what I really want to see is that including all the pieces, from COBRA extension to state aid, it’s much bigger than that.

So show me the money, and I’ll tell you what I think about the plan.

Watch the speech / Full Text

Related on Care2:

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: Pressure on the President

Spinning the Obama Stimulus: Should Democrats Emulate GOP Perception Management?

Bailout Losses Smaller Than Expected

Evaluating Obama on the Economy – Prevailing Criticisms Lack Perspective

Image from flickr user, Obama-Biden Transition Project, via CreativeCommons.org


Danielle W.
Danielle W8 years ago


Terry S.
Terry S8 years ago

In order to restore the US economy, we must restore manufacturing to this country. We can not do that because of the Clean Water Act of 1972 and the Clean Air Act of 1977, along with their revisions over the years. It is simply cheaper to manufacture in countries without pollution controls. Currently in Copenhagen, they are looking for more money and tighter emissions from us, while allowing any gains achieved to be squandered by the DEVELOPING world. 10 years from now the world will be more polluted. As the developing world becomes the developed world and the developed world becomes the third world. The developed world will tell us to screw ourselves on talks of them reducing emissions. The BRIC countries are already telling us that. The rest are sure to follow. As well, you can rest assured that once they control the markets, they will not be as giving as we were. So why are we continuing to give. We are only screwing ourselves and our future. Like perfect sheeple.

Rosemarie M.
Rosemarie M8 years ago

Ross, you are a nasty bitch.

Rosemarie M.
Rosemarie M8 years ago

Obama's background is one of a community organizer. He doesn't have a clue about creating jobs. He talks a good game, but I don't think he really means what he says. There is no passion in the man. Cool? No cold!

Carol H.
Past Member 8 years ago

This man we call our President by the name of BO is a lier and cheat all he wants to do is buy all of us and if peoople believe anything he says they have been duped.

Let me put it this way he refuses to tell us where he was really born so he has been lying to all of us from the very start and that is a fact.

Paul Puckett
Paul Puckett8 years ago

Thanks Catman!

Paul Puckett
Paul Puckett8 years ago

How can the President get anything done with all this opposition?


All that opposition supposedly blocking Obama, is the smallest minority opposition any President has enjoyed for many, many years. Reagan never had a congress that was in the same party. Many who support Obama have no respect for Reagan. But, like what he accomplished, or not, Reagan was a leader and surrounded himself with talented and able leaders.

Unfortunately, it appears neither is the case currently. The only thing they share in common, is the ability to campaign and give inspiring speeches.

What is more surprising, is that W accomplished more of his agenda in his final two years with an opposition Congress than Obama has in his first year, to date, with a filibuster proof majority in both houses of Congress. That probably is one part of the reason that President Obama has the lowest approval on record for this time in his first term.

Gabi B.
Gabi B8 years ago

Bringing manufacturing back to our own country instead of importing everything, would be a major step in the right direction.

Barbara V.
Barbara V8 years ago

I recall the hopes of Obama getting going with "green jobs," which would have created work for millions. But there are no signs of them. Is it because the Republicans, the lobbyists, and all the other antis in or above government said NO, that all those green jobs would take away profits from the big, powerful, polluting corporations? I mean, how can the president get anything done with all this opposition? And that's just one facet: look at the health care proposal he made and all the hullabaloo about its public option. He's getting kicked below the belt for good ideas that the powers that be knock down for the sake of their profits. If it were up to the opposition, we would have nothing--including our civil rights. To paraphrase the bard, something rotten is going on and it ain't in the State of Denmark.

Barbara V.
Barbara V8 years ago

Rubywahini speaks with a forked tongue.