The American Jobs Act: Your Questions Answered

On September 8, President Obama called on Congress to pass the American Jobs Act, his plan to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working. And a week ago today, he explained how he would ensure the American Jobs Act does not add a dime to our deficit and proposed a balanced approach to getting our financial house in order. 

Here in the White House we have been getting lots of feedback on the President’s plans from citizens across the country who have called, e-mailed, tweeted and posted to express their opinions and ask questions. So below are responses to some of the questions, criticisms and misconceptions that we have heard so far. 

The President Knows Congress Will Not Pass His Plan So He Is Just Wasting Our Time.

While it is up to Congress to decide if it will pass the President’s American Jobs Act so he can sign it into law, there is no reason that Congress shouldn’t. As the President explained in his address, every proposal in the American Jobs Act “is the kind of proposal that's been supported by both Democrats and Republicans.” The President’s plan will cut taxes for working Americans and small businesses and put construction workers, teachers, police officers and firefighters, veterans and the long-term unemployed back to work. And President Obama laid out a plan to pay for it, by closing tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires as well as hedge fund managers, private jet owners and oil companies – although he has called on the Joint Committee to make the final decision on how to make sure that it will not add to our deficit. So there’s no reason the Congress should not pass this bill.  

Americans Already Pay Too Much To The Government – The Last Thing We Should Do Is Raise Taxes.

The President’s proposal to repeal the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and close loopholes and subsidies for big corporations, oil companies, hedge fund managers and corporate jet owners is part of a balanced approach to getting our financial house in order. It’s an approach that asks everyone to pay their fair share and makes sure everyone gets a fair shake. Recognizing that the economy remains fragile, the plan includes no tax increases for anyone in 2011 or 2012—and, in fact,  includes $245 billion in tax cuts for workers and small businesses in these years. And the President’s plan lives up to the simple idea that we can live within our means while still making the investments we need to grow our economy, compete globally and create jobs that will ensure our future prosperity in areas including education, innovation, clean energy and infrastructure. 

As the President said in his speech last week, this is about choices: “Either we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in taxes, or we’re going to have to ask seniors to pay more for Medicare. We can’t afford to do both. Either we gut education and medical research, or we’ve got to reform the tax code so that the most profitable corporations have to give up tax loopholes that other companies don’t get. We can’t afford to do both. This is not class warfare. It’s math.”   

The Last Stimulus Did Not Create Jobs And This One Will Not Create Jobs Either. 

Despite what critics of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act say, independent economists have determined that it did create jobs. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that the Recovery Act created or saved as many as 3.5 million jobs as of the end of last year. And Macroeconomic Advisors, Moody’s Economy.com and IHS/Global Insight all similarly found that it created or saved well over 2 million jobs as of that point. 

As the President said in his Address to a Joint Session of Congress, “The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working.” And outside experts agree. Moody’s Analytics’ Mark Zandi estimates that if Congress passed the American Jobs Act, it would add 1.9 million jobs and 2 percentage points to GDP growth in 2012. And Macroeconomic Advisors estimates that it would add 1.3 million by the end of 2012. So you don’t have to take it from us – outside experts say the American Jobs Act will put Americans back to work and grow the economy. 

How Does the American Jobs Act Help Students Gain Employment?

Students, like other workers, will benefit from the payroll tax cuts that the President has proposed to spur businesses to hire. The President’s plan would completely refund payroll taxes paid on added workers or wage increases for current workers above the level of last year’s payroll, encouraging firms to hire additional employees or raise wages for their current employees. The Act also includes $1.5 billion for summer jobs and year-round employment for low-income youth ages 16-24. Such programs can not only provide young people with their first paycheck, but also teach them life-long employment skills.    

What Will the Jobs Act Do to Help People Who Are Self-Employed?

All small business owners, including those who are self-employed, would benefit from the President’s proposed tax cuts for small businesses. These tax cuts will cut employer and self-employment payroll taxes in half, and extend 100% expensing provisions that provide an incentive for investment. And if self-employed or home-based businesses want to expand, they will receive a tax break for hiring new workers.

The President’s plan also makes it easier for states to allow unemployed workers to create their own jobs by starting their own businesses, by allowing states across the nation to use federal funds to support self-employment assistance programs. The President’s plan will also enable states to connect entrepreneurs with mentoring and access to capital through SBA and other public and private resources.

 How Will You Ensure Job Creation and "Stimulus" Opportunities and Dollars Actually Reach Minority Small Businesses?

The President is proposing tax cuts that will go to every small business nationwide – including over 100,000 African-American-owned small businesses and 250,000 Hispanic-owned small businesses. These tax cuts will cut employer payroll taxes in half for these businesses, provide them with an added bonus for increasing their payroll, and extend 100% expensing provisions that provide an incentive for investment. 

Additionally, the President’s plan includes administrative, regulatory and legislative measures to help small firms, including those owned by minorities start and expand. These measures include speeding up government payments to small businesses, reducing their regulatory burdens and removing some withholding requirements that keep capital out of the hands of job creators.

How Will the American Jobs Act Address Technology Gaps between Rural and Urban Areas, and what Incentives Will It Offer to Technology Entrepreneurs?

The American Jobs Act will invest in developing and deploying a nationwide wireless network for use by first responders and free up public and private spectrum to enable the private sector to deploy high-speed wireless services to at least 98 percent of Americans, even those living in remote rural and farming communities. 

The President’s plan will also support technology entrepreneurs by investing $30 billion to renovate and modernize our nation’s schools and community colleges. Part of this funding will be used to build new science and computer labs and to upgrade technology in our schools. 

Finally, technology entrepreneurs, like all small businesses would benefit from the President’s proposed tax cuts for small businesses. These tax cuts will cut employer payroll taxes in half for these businesses, provide them with an added bonus for increasing their payroll, and extend 100% expensing provisions that provide an incentive for investment. 

Click here to learn more about the American Jobs Act. We’ll keep responding to the feedback we hear from you, so keep asking questions, raising concerns and letting us know what you think about the President’s plans.

Jon Carson is Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement
Related Topics: Economy
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