President Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress tonight, issuing a blunt call to pass his bill: a $447 billion package of tax cuts and government spending aimed at resuscitating America's economy.
His proposals included an expansion of a cut in payroll taxes and new spending in public works, including money to renovate as many as 35,000 schools and put teachers back to work. Obama also said his plan would not add to the deficit.
"Here’s the other thing I want the American people to know: The American Jobs Act will not add to the deficit. It will be paid for," the president said.
This summer, Congress came to an agreement to cut about $1 trillion in government spending over the next 10 years and Congress must also come up with another $1.5 trillion in savings by the end of the year. In his speech, Obama asked Congress to increase that amount so that it covers the cost of the jobs bill.
"And a week from Monday, I’ll be releasing a more ambitious deficit plan -- a plan that will not only cover the cost of this jobs bill, but stabilize our debt in the long run," he said.
The speech, of course, gave no details on how the money would benefit schools, but education was a frequent theme.
"There are private construction companies all across America just waiting to get to work….And there are schools throughout this country that desperately need renovating. How can we expect our kids to do their best in places that are literally falling apart? This is America. Every child deserves a great school -- and we can give it to them, if we act now."
"The American Jobs Act will repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools. It will put people to work right now fixing roofs and windows, installing science labs and high-speed Internet in classrooms all across this country."
And on the subject of teachers:
"Pass this jobs bill, and thousands of teachers in every state will go back to work. These are the men and women charged with preparing our children for a world where the competition has never been tougher. But while they’re adding teachers in places like South Korea, we’re laying them off in droves. It’s unfair to our kids. It undermines their future and ours. And it has to stop. Pass this bill, and put our teachers back in the classroom where they belong."
The president said he hits the road Friday selling his plan in every corner of America.