President Barack Obama is expected to call for extensive tax incentives as part of his administration's plan to jump-start job growth, which has ebbed in recent months as the originally stimulus ended.
Obama, who will address a joint-session of Congress Thursday at 9 p.m. EDT, is expected to call for injecting $300 billion into the U.S. economy in the year ahead, primarily through tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and direct aid to state/local governments.
According to people familiar with the White House plan, the bulk of Obama's proposal is expected to be a one-year extension of a payroll tax reduction for employers and an extension of jobless benefits, totaling about $170 billion, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.
The administration will also propose a business tax credit for unemployed workers $30 billion, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday.
Obama's goal is to reduce the nation's staggering 9.1 unemployment rate -- an improvement in which has followed the pattern of previous post-financial crisis recoveries -- a slow decline. The nation needs to create about 100,000 to 125,000 jobs per month just to prevent the unemployment rate from rising: so far the recovery has averaged a 144,000-job gain per month.
GOP Opposition Likely
What's more, even though it contains tax reductions/incentives to hire -- something the opposition party, the Republican Party, has historically favored -- the Obama job plan still may have trouble passing the Republican-controlled House.
The reason? The nation is heading into an election year, 2012, and Republicans are likely to be reluctant to support any Obama proposal -- even if it would help Republican-based constituencies -- for fear of giving Obama an election year accomplishment that could increase the likelihood of Obama's re-election.
In fact, House Speaker John Boehner, R- Ohio and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. in a joint letter to Obama Tuesday, hit on themes expressed in 2009, when they opposed Obama' $830 billion fiscal stimulus package, about a third of which was comprised of tax cuts. The duo called the 2009 stimulus, a large, deficit-financed, government spending bill, that has not decreased unemployment, but elongated high unemployment. The aforementioned does not guarantee that all Republicans will oppose Obama's 2011 jobs package, but it appears likely that most Republicans won't put their name on any stimulus legislation -- particularly spending legislation -- that has a chance to make Obama look good.
Political/Public Policy Analysis: In his Thursday speech and in the lobbying period after, look for Obama to make a good-faith effort to propose a bipartisan package that would increase U.S. GDP growth and help lower unemployment, but unfortunately, it's likely to become another victim of the partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats.
One wishes another scenario could ensue. However, the political reality is: Republicans really do not want to attach themselves to any Democratic bill that improves Obama's chance for re-election -- even if not doing so hurts the American people by delaying action on the nation's unacceptably high unemployment rate. In that sense, lingering high unemployment will be, in part, a casualty of divided government -- the end result of electing parties with different sources of power to each branch of government.