With anticipation building for the jobs package he has said he will reveal in a major speech next week, President Barack Obama dropped some hints on the scope and content of his plans on Tuesday.
"There is no doubt that we can take steps that would mean the economy was growing a percent or a percentage and a half faster. That could mean half a million to a million additional jobs," Obama said in an interview with radio talkshow host Tom Joyner.
While the White House says the jobs creation package is still being worked out, Obama said he would discuss infrastructure spending to upgrade the country's roads, bridges and schools, as well as extending a payroll tax cut and jobless aid, Reuters reports.
"All these ideas are ones that have been presented to Congress,” he told Joyner. “We'll be putting out several other additional ideas. We've got to do it, unfortunately, at a time when money is tight. George Bush left us (a) $1 trillion deficit.”
Other measures under consideration but not yet decided, The Associated Press reports, include a labor-intensive school construction and renovation initiative and a payroll tax cut for employers who hire more workers.
According to the AP:
Economists who advocate for government intervention in the economy estimate that it would take a package of at least $300 billion to avoid backsliding and even more to give the economy a lift.
Meanwhile, a congressional supercommittee is toiling away at the task of finding at least $1.5 trillion in deficit cuts. As part of his economic plan, AP reports, Obama plans to propose even more deficit reduction to help pay for the up-front cost of his jobs initiatives.
The jobless rate was 9.1 percent in July, and progressive groups are pushing for a bold jobs creation plan that gets a large number of citizens working, even if it’s costly, the Los Angeles Times reports. "The president should articulate a solution of the size and scale necessary to solve the problem,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the L.A. Times. “We have a jobs crisis. … If you do only what you think the other side and the ‘tea party’ will agree to, then they control the agenda.” Sixty-seven progressive groups have sent Obama an open letter urging him to “go big” with his job creation proposals.
Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody's Analytics, told the AP that without government action, the private sector would have to grow by more than 4 percent to generate enough jobs to keep unemployment from rising. "That seems like a heavy lift at this juncture," he said.