ALPHA, Ill. — President Obama has decided to press Congress for a new round of stimulus spending and tax cuts as he seeks to address the great domestic policy quandary of his tenure: how to spur job growth in an age of austerity.
Obama will lay out a series of ideas in a major address right after Labor Day, when he and
a largely antagonistic Congress will return from vacation, the White House said Wednesday.
The president is thinking about proposing tax cuts for companies that hire workers, new spending for roads and construction, and other measures that would target the long-term unemployed, according to administration officials and other people familiar with the matter. Some ideas, such as providing mortgage relief for struggling homeowners, could come through executive action.
Obama also plans to announce a major push for new deficit reduction, urging the special congressional committee formed in the debt-ceiling deal this month to identify even more savings than the $1.5 trillion it has been tasked with finding.
In packaging the two, he will make the case that short-term spending can lead to long-term savings.
“We can’t afford to just do one or the other. We’ve got to do both,” Obama said Wednesday in this farming town in northwestern Illinois, population 671, the last stop of his three-day bus tour through the rural Midwest.
He did not reveal details. But his remarks and additional comments from advisers and others familiar with the White House’s planning suggest that he will pressure Republican lawmakers this fall to back off their objections to additional spending in the short term. Many Democrats have expressed frustration that the White House allowed Republicans during the debt-ceiling negotiations to focus solely on deficit reduction while not pushing harder for steps that would energize the economy.
“When Congress gets back in September, my basic argument to them is this: We should not have to choose between getting our fiscal house in order and jobs and growth,” Obama said in an earlier stop Wednesday in Atkinson, Ill.
The president’s decision to lay out a jobs plan — announced on the final day of his bus tour — follows months of criticism from lawmakers in both parties that the White House has not addressed the country’s stubbornly high unemployment rate.
The issue is consistently a top concern for voters, and with 15 months to go before Obama stands for reelection, polls show deep disappointment in his handling of the economy.
A Gallup poll released Wednesday showed that just 26 percent of Americans approve of the president’s handling of the economy. More than a third, according to a Washington Post-ABC News survey last month, said he has made economic matters worse.