The future is uncertain for President Barack Obama’s newly proposed American Jobs Act, a half-trillion-dollar piece of legislation that aims to jumpstart the economy and lower the 9.1 percent unemployment rate.
In his speech to Congress on Sept. 8, Obama emphasized the bipartisan nature of his proposal, using the term “Democrats and Republicans” five times, and mentioning repeatedly how the bill “is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans” in the past.
Yet it may be difficult to bring Congress’ Republicans on board. House Speaker John Boehner criticized the plan when it was released last Thursday.
The government would cover $400 billion of the plan by eliminating certain tax deductions wealthy taxpayers can currently claim. The rest would be covered by a series of tax raises and change in policies leading to fewer deductions.
“I think it’s about time that corporations and the really wealthy in the country paid their fair share,” Penn Democrats Political Director and Wharton sophomore Troy Daly said. “When companies like Exxon Mobil and GE are paying zero tax dollars — which they did last year — I think there’s something wrong there.”
The bill focuses on supporting teachers, police officers and firefighters; improving public schools; fixing highways and bridges; and helping veterans find jobs post-service.
Patricia Rose, director of Penn Career Services, is still unsure of how the bill will affect students. “I think it’s hard to know what the effect will be, but it’s more likely [to] be a trickle-down effect,” she said. “If the economy improves and consumers spend money, the employers across the board will be more willing to hire.”
She also mentioned that there are some direct beneficiaries from the plan. “If the plan results in the hiring of more teachers, then graduates of the Graduate School of Education would benefit.”
“Will it be felt immediately?” Rose asked. “It’s hard to tell.”
However, others don’t think the bill would be felt at all. The proposal is “an identical variation of … the original stimulus bill — the main thing they’re doing is basically changing the name,” said College Republicans President and Daily Pennsylvanian columnist Charles Gray. “[And] there is wide agreement that the original stimulus failed.”
In Philadelphia, there is explicit — if not enthusiastic — support for the plan.
Mayor and 1979 Wharton graduate Michael Nutter endorsed Obama’s jobs plan in a statement from the White House on Sept. 8. “President Obama laid out a comprehensive set of ideas … which is exactly what this country, and certainly Philadelphia, needs to get our economy going,” he said.
Michelle Martin — communications coordinator of the nonprofit Philadelphia Youth Network — said the act, if passed, would help run its WorkReady Philadelphia program. WorkReady, the city’s youth employment service, helped a little over 11,000 young people find jobs in the summer of 2010.
While Penn students aren’t typically beneficiaries of WorkReady’s services, some students do help with the umbrella organization Philadelphia Youth Network through the Netter Center for Community Partnerships.
“Because of President Obama passing the stimulus in 2009, there was a large infusion of money into WorkReady Philadelphia [in 2010],” Martin said.
This past summer, however, the number of participants nearly halved. “Approximately 5,000 students participated — that was because of the stimulus dollars being used up.”
Martin said that WorkReady Philadelphia would benefit from the job act “because there would be additional dollars … put into the [WorkReady] system.”Comments powered by Disqus
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