Obama Urges Approval of Jobs Bill as US Poverty Rate Increases

Posted September 14th, 2011 at 12:46 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama will continue on Wednesday his appeal for lawmakers to pass his proposal to create jobs and boost a sluggish economy, amid news that the country’s poverty rate has risen to its highest level in 17 years.

The president, taking his message directly to the American people, will head to North Carolina, where he will try to rally support for the $447 billion American Jobs Act.

President Obama made his pitch for the legislation Tuesday in Ohio, touting an initiative that would spend $25 billion to modernize 35,000 public schools across the nation. The president also said the bill would benefit unemployed teachers, veterans, young people, and construction workers.

However, many Republican leaders have criticized the proposal, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said the administration is not interested in “economic policies that will actually work.” McConnell objects to the president’s plan to pay for the bill by raising taxes on wealthier Americans.

White House budget director Jacob Lew told reporters Monday that such tax hikes would account for about $400 billion of the proposed plan.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau said Tuesday that more than 46 million Americans are living in poverty. The nation’s poverty rate, which now stands at just over 15 percent, has climbed for three consecutive years.

The U.S. government considers a family of four to be in poverty in the United States if their annual income is less than $22,314.

During his tour across America, the President Obama has repeatedly called for lawmakers to pass the American Jobs Act immediately.

The legislation, which was sent to Congress on Monday, calls for spending billions of dollars to improve the nation’s roads and other public works projects. Mr. Obama also wants to reduce payroll taxes paid by American workers and companies that go toward the federal government’s Social Security pension program.

The U.S. unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent. About 14 million workers are unemployed and millions more are working part-time or in jobs they consider below their skill level.