In a speech where he pleaded for Congress to pass this bill 17 times, President Obama proposed a $447-billion package to Congress and the American people Thursday night, calling it “nothing controversial,” and saying it is the “kind of proposal that’s supported by both Democrats and Republicans.” At the center of the bill is an extension and expansion of the payroll tax cut, which cut the tax paid by employees in half by 2102—which will be worth about $240 billion. Obama said this tax break will bring in about $1,500 a year to the average working American family. Despite the large tax cut, Obama assured that the tax code would be updated to make sure the wealthiest Americans and corporations “pay their fair share.”
The other hallmarks to Obama’s bill included new spending on schools and public-works projects and an overhaul of unemployment insurance. He assured that he would not allow the “economic crisis [to] be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades.” He applauded the Senate’s passage of a patent reform bill, which has been proposed as a way to enhance new innovations.
But the main theme of the speech seemed to be that this bill needed to be passed. “Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans—including many who are sitting here tonight,” Obama said. He credited the plan with having been crafted by a Massachusetts Democrat and a Texas Republican, and he insisted the proposal “isn’t political grandstanding. This isn’t class warfare. This is simple math.”
Republicans were cautious in their response to Obama’s proposal, with House Speaker John Boehner saying Obama’s proposals “merit consideration” but Republicans “hope that he gives serious consideration to our ideas as well.” In a rebuttal, presidential candidate Michele Bachmann called the proposal “a political speech” and she accused Obama of being “politically paralyzed.”