“Well, here it is,” the President said this morning, holding up the text of the American Jobs Act that he introduced in a speech to a Joint Session of Congress last Thursday.
The Jobs Act contains $60 billion in investments in infrastructure, $85 billion in much needed aid to state and local governments, and $175 billion in an extension of the payroll tax cut passed last year. As millions of unemployed Americans watch and struggle, the official future of the Jobs Act is in the hands of a bitterly divided Congress, which has focused more on manufactured crises than the very real jobs crisis since the beginning of this year.
While Members of Congress now have the ball in their court, the President is taking his plan to the people. He will be talking about the bill tomorrow in Columbus, Ohio, and in Raleigh-Durham on Wednesday.
Reactions are mixed among Republicans. Several members of Congress, such as Sen. Jim Demint (R-SC) and Rep. Joe Walsh (R-SC), didn’t even attend the speech. Senator David Vitter (R-LA) told reporters he would be attending a football watch party instead. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) suggested that he wanted to peel off different sections of the bill and pass them separately.
Even before the speech, many Republicans were lining up to actually oppose the employee Payroll Tax Cut, which would lower the amount deducted from paychecks to go towards Social Security to 3.1 percent. Even though inaction would essentially lead to a tax increase on working Americans, usually fanatically anti-tax politicians are identifying it as a piece of the Jobs Act that’s unacceptable.
Unlike Members of Congress, Working America members are more concerned with taking care of their families and keeping their heads above water than political maneuvers. Curtis P., a member from Sandusky, Ohio, told us he’s been unemployed for nine months, and that he’s having trouble providing for his wife and kids. Ohio would get $4 billion under the Jobs Act, including a healthy chunk for job-creating infrastructure projects.
Curtis’s representative, Bob Latta (R-OH), said of the Jobs Act that he’s concerned it isn’t paid for, and that he believes Americans want less taxes and the “elimination” of the Affordable Care Act. We’re not sure who he’s talking to, but we’re pretty sure it isn’t Curtis.