TOPICS > Economy

Obama Takes Pitch for $450B American Jobs Act on the Road

September 9, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
President Obama headed to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's hometown of Richmond, Va., Friday in an effort to get Americans behind the $447 billion American Jobs Act proposal that he presented to Congress on Thursday. Ray Suarez reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF: It was the day after the big speech for President Obama, and day one of his campaign to sell a new economic program to Congress and the country.

Ray Suarez has that story.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: So this bill will help people on unemployment.

RAY SUAREZ: The president took his jobs plan on the road, to the University of Richmond in Virginia and a crowd of 8,000.

BARACK OBAMA: Now, everything in the American Jobs Act, everything in there is the kind of proposal that’s been supported in the past by both Democrats and Republicans. Nothing radical in this bill. Everything in it will put more people back to work and more money back into the pockets of those who are working.


MAN: The president of the United States!

RAY SUAREZ: The president rolled out his American Jobs Act in last night’s address to a joint session of Congress. It would cost just under $450 billion, including some $250 billion in tax breaks, mostly in the form of payroll tax cuts for workers and employers.

There’s also nearly $200 billion in new spending for public works, unemployment benefits and aid to the states. The president has vowed the jobs act will be fully paid for, and he’s asking the new deficit super committee to help find ways to do that. He also says he will offer new deficit cutting ideas of his own, including curbs on Medicare and Medicaid, in 10 days time.

Overall, White House officials project nearly 1.9 million jobs will result from the plan. But, first, it has to win approval in Congress.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi challenged Republicans today to work with the president.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif. House minority leader: So I think it’s about not between the Democrats and the Republicans. It’s about the American people. And I think that will give an opening to work in a bipartisan way. But I think we have to be respectful. I don’t think we have to confront. I think we just should see where we can find our common ground.

BARACK OBAMA: You want a tax break…

RAY SUAREZ: To that end, the president staged his event today in the Virginia district of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the chamber’s number-two Republican.

BARACK OBAMA: I’m an optimistic person. I believe in America. I believe in our democracy. I believe that if you just stay at it long enough eventually, after they have exhausted all the options, folks do the right thing.


RAY SUAREZ: Earlier, Cantor spoke on the House floor and called for accommodation.

REP. ERIC CANTOR, R-Va. House majority leader: The president came last night, and there were several things and proposals within his speech that seemed to reflect some areas that we can both agree on and build towards consensus.

This is an opportunity for us to set aside the differences that we have, because good people can differ, and begin to focus on things like allowing tax relief for small business, like allowing for the rollback of regulatory impediments that stand in the way of small business growth.

RAY SUAREZ: But on the campaign trail, there was little talk of common ground from the president’s Republican challengers.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann came out swinging shortly after Mr. Obama spoke to Congress.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-Minn. presidential candidate: And I stand here tonight to say to the president, not only should Congress not pass his plan. I say, Mr. President, stop. Your last plan hasn’t worked, and it’s hurting the American economy.

RAY SUAREZ: And in a Web video, the Mitt Romney campaign called the Obama economic policies a failure. The president will continue to push for public support for his program in the coming days, with rallies next week in Ohio and North Carolina.