Obama Previews Jobs Plan Ahead of Speech to Congress

Posted September 5th, 2011 at 6:36 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama has praised American workers on the country's Labor Day holiday, while calling on his opponents to join him in supporting new spending to fix roads and bridges and extend a national payroll tax cut.

The president made his comments Monday during a speech before a friendly audience in Michigan. The state was once home to the world's biggest car-making hub but has seen hundreds of industries shrink or disappear altogether, and is currently dealing with a jobless rate that is nearly two points higher than the national average of 9.1 percent. In Detroit, where the president spoke, unemployment has hovered between 20 and 30 percent in recent years.

The president, a Democrat, vowed to propose new support for workers in a speech to a joint session of Congress this Thursday night. Numerous Republicans have opposed his call for more spending to support job creation, but the president challenged them to “put country ahead of party.” Mr. Obama said that among other things, he would propose construction spending to fix the nation's crumbling road and bridges, as well as extend the 2011 payroll tax cut beyond its scheduled expiration at the end of the year.

Separately, five Republicans hoping to defeat Mr. Obama in the 2012 elections took part in a forum Monday in South Carolina, in which they stressed shrinking the government and lowering taxes to spur the economy.

U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann , Georgia businessman Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Congressman Ron Paul and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney participated in the event.

Texas Governor Rick Perry, another presidential hopeful, was to have attended the forum but bowed out to deal with wildfires in his state.

Last week, the Labor Department released a report showing no net gain of jobs in August, compared to an estimated net gain of 85,000 in July. The August report was the weakest in a year.