President Barack Obama has bowed to pressure from Republicans and moved the original date of his scheduled high-profile jobs speech. Obama had planned to deliver his major speech suggesting new jobs initiatives that could set the political agenda in Washington for the coming months on Sept. 7 -- but after a Republican request for a date change, it will now be on Sept. 8.
Republicans were scheduled to hold a televised debate that same evening, at the same time of Obama's speech before Congress. So Republican Speaker of the House of Representative John Boehner asked Obama to address Congress on the next evening, Sept. 8.
The White agreed, changing the date for Obama's high-profile speech before Congress. The White House says the original timing of the Republican debate and Obama's proposed speech, first announced in a letter to congressional leaders, was merely coincidence. Congress, currently out on recess, returns Sept. 6.
Both houses (of Congress) will be back in session after their August recess on Wednesday, September 7th, so that was the date that was requested, White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement. We consulted with the Speaker about that date before the letter was released, but he determined Thursday would work better.
Incidentally, however, in working with the Republicans, the president moved himself into a time slot that may hold less national appeal. The season-opening NFL football game between the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints airs on Sept. 8 -- the new night of Obama's speech -- at 8:30 p.m. EDT on NBC.
Typically, the NFL's prime time opening game draws a large audience. Obama has yet to determine the exact timing of his speech, and it's possible he could precede the NFL game, in the attempt to draw a larger audience. Regardless, Republicans were happy that Obama obliged their request, moving the date of his speech.
We appreciate the president working with us tonight and look forward to hearing his new proposals, Brendan Buck, a Boehner spokesman, told Reuters.
But while the date change is a small victory of sorts for the Republicans the big showdown will come after Obama delivers his high-profile speech. America's lingering unemployment problem is arguably the nation's greatest economic challenge and Obama's greatest re-election challenge.
Already Republican presidential candidates, including Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, have directly attacked Obama for a weak jobs policy in the post-recession economy. They say he has spent too much federal money without gaining meaningful results. Last month, Obama said that his upcoming high-profile speech will contain all-new initiatives, requiring leaders from both parties to get on board to solve America's unemployment problem.
Obama has sought the joint session of Congress for his high-profile speech to create a sort of State of the Union address atmosphere, in the effort to gain widespread support from both parties for the initiatives he will unveil. Controversy is sure to follow, however, since the initiatives are expected to come with a a price tag.
Therefore, the cost of Obama's proposals will liekly be a big concern for some lawmakers, considering the tone of recent debt ceiling negotiations over the United States' $14 trillion budget deficit.
Obama has said he will lay out a series of steps that Congress could act on quickly to strengthen small businesses and put more money in the paychecks of the middle class and working Americans, while also reducing the deficit.
A White House spokesman said Obama's speech before Congress will focus primarily on jobs, however, with detailed proposals on budget deficit reduction following at a later time. Reports suggest proposals from Obama are likely to include infrastructure spending, measures to help homeowners, and tax breaks to encourage hiring new workers.