Reynolds Coliseum erupted with cheers as President Barack Obama took the stage Sept. 14 to discuss his proposed American Jobs Act that could bring billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to North Carolina.
The President said it’s important to build on middle class jobs and put more money back into the pockets of working Americans. But, he said, Americans have to get the rest of Washington on board and encourage them to focus less on their jobs and more on the jobs of the middle class.
“My question is what’s Congress waiting for?” Obama asked.
From teacher to police officer and firefighter jobs, Obama’s plan would provide funding to avoid or reverse the layoffs of up to 13,400 educator and first responder positions in North Carolina.
“We need to build an economy that lasts,” Obama said. “The time for games and gridlock is over. The time for action is now.”
As students like those at N.C. State prepare to graduate and enter the work force, Obama said it is imperative that we not wait until the next election to make changes and spur economic growth.
The bill would provide tax cuts for small businesses that hire workers that have been out of work for more than six months and raise the salaries of current employees. In North Carolina, cutting the payroll tax in half, as the bill proposes, would benefit 170,000 small businesses.
It also would offer a tax cut for businesses that hire veterans.
“Now, we ask these men and women to leave their careers, leave their families, risk their lives to fight for us, to fight for our freedoms,” Obama said. “The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they get home.”
The bill would extend unemployment benefits while linking those utilizing the insurance with temporary jobs to help them in the search for something permanent.
Through initiatives to invest in highways, transit, rail, aviation, public schools and community colleges, the bill would put more than $1.6 billion into North Carolina and result in the creation of tens of thousands of jobs. It also would help more than 35,000 schools and put into motion numerous infrastructure projects that are badly needed in each state.
“There’s work to be done; there are workers ready to do it; let’s pass this jobs bill right away and let’s get it done,” Obama said. “Let’s go.”
Local communities would benefit as well. As part of a $15 billion investment nationwide, North Carolina would receive $20 million for local revitalization and refurbishing projects. The money would be dispersed through a competitive application process.
On the individual level, families would see the payroll tax cut extended. Across North Carolina, the average family, making $42,000, would receive $1,300 back.
‘It isn’t about me’
He said that some in Washington feel that passing the bill will promote the President in time for the 2012 election.
“Give me a win?” he asked. “Give me a break. That’s exactly why folks are fed up with Washington.
“This isn’t about me. This isn’t about giving me a win. This isn’t about giving Democrats or Republicans a win. It’s not about positioning for elections. It’s about giving the American people a win.”
And as part of the anticipated win for Americans, Obama said, the bill would be paid for in full. Cuts would have to be made in other places, but it’s a product of overspending in the last decade and America will have to learn to live within its means.
“We will pay for this plan. We will pay down our debt. We’ll do it following the same principles that every family follows; we’ll make sure the government lives within its means,” he said. “We’ll cut what we can’t afford to pay for what we really need.”
Ideas were taken from both sides of the aisle to create the bill and now he wants to see Washington come together in support of the bill. But, he said, the help of the American people is imperative to getting this bill passed in Congress. They have to contact their Congress members and tell them to vote in favor of the proposed act.
“We are not people that sit and watch things happen. We make things happen,” Obama said. “We are Americans. We are tougher than the hand we’ve been dealt.”