President Barack Obama‘s “Better Bargain for the Middle Class” plan introduction kicked off this week in grand fashion, causing a stir within the beltway and across the nation as cities struggle to create new jobs. As the economy exhibits a slow recovery, President Obama is aggressively pursuing his economic plan via a series of policy speeches, the first of which took place Tuesday afternoon in Chattanooga, Tenn. at the Amazon Fulfillment Center. And not surprisingly, Republican lawmakers have balked at the plan, even with a number of compromises partial to that party’s aims.
Flanked by Amazon workers, President Obama spoke plainly and directly about the aims of the “Better Bargain” plan. Making certain to mention the 7.2 million new jobs created in the past 40 months, Obama was frank in saying his administration and Congress needs to come together to do more:
But so far, for most of this year, we’ve seen an endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals. And we keep on shifting our way — shifting our attention away from what we should be focused on, which is how do we strengthen the middle class and grow the economy for everybody?
And as Washington heads toward yet another budget debate, the stakes couldn’t be higher. And that’s why I’m visiting cities and towns like this -– to lay out my ideas for how we can build on the cornerstone of what it means to be middle class in America.
So I’m doing a series of speeches over the next several weeks, but I came to Chattanooga today to talk about the first and most important cornerstone of middle-class security, and that’s a good job in a durable, growing industry.
President Obama went on to list a series of actions that would boost the aims of his economic plan and explained how manufacturing jobs have seen recent growth. Infrastructure was another focal point of growth and gave way to the President mentioning his “Fix It First” plan, which will focus on the nation’s most immediate repair needs, such as bridges, roads, and other related items. Jobs in the energy industry also surfaced during the President’s speech in addition to exporting.
One of President Obama’s boldest statements, though, came when he mentioned the 4 million long-term unemployed citizens in the country. Consequently, the President challenged businesses and CEOs to overlook the lull in time on prospective employees’ resumes.
“ One of the problems is a lot of folks, they lose their jobs during this really bad recession through no fault of their own,” Obama said. “They’ve got what it takes to fill that job opening, but because they’ve been out of work so long, employers won’t even give their application a fair look.”
And even though the “Better Bargain” plan calls for corporate tax rate cuts — which Republicans have insisted is a priority — in exchange for a portion of that money to return to create the various job programs listed in his speech and throughout much of his presidency, Republicans continue to play hardball with the President.
But the line has clearly been drawn in the sand by both Democrats and Republicans on the matter.
“Here’s the bottom line: I’m willing to work with Republicans on reforming our corporate tax code, as long as we use the money from transitioning to a simpler tax system for a significant investment in creating middle-class jobs,” the President said. “That’s the deal.”
The GOP’s response has been prickly at best, with House Speaker John Boehner delivering tough words via a statement from his spokesperson, Michael Steel, “The President has always supported corporate tax reform,” Steel said in a statement. “Republicans want to help families and small businesses too. This ‘grand bargain’ allows President Obama to support President Obama’s position on taxes and President Obama’s position on spending, while leaving small businesses and American families behind.”
As expected, Obama’s words have prompted GOP power brokers, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell,to say that the President’s plan is a “further left” version of an economic strategy he proposed two years ago.
Despite the partisan bickering that’s soon to ensue, especially over raising the minimum wage and eliminating the transfer of jobs overseas, Obama’s remaining days in office show that he is not content with running a lame duck White House.