President Obama takes the stage before speaking to an enthusiastic crowd… (Susan Tusa / McClatchy-Tribune )
Reporting from Washington — President Obama on Thursday will roll out a jobs package that strives to lift the ailing economy through $300 billion worth of tax credits, school renovation projects, job training for the unemployed and a program to prevent teacher layoffs, according to a person familiar with the administration's plans.
In his speech before a joint session of Congress, Obama also will ask lawmakers to renew the 2% payroll tax cut that was approved in December and to extend jobless benefits, said the person, who requested anonymity to talk more freely about White House internal deliberations.
The administration would not confirm specifically what is in the plan. And details could change as White House advisors fine-tune the package.
The address being written by chief White House speechwriter Jon Favreau looms as one of the most important of Obama's presidency. Unemployment stands at 9.1% and the fragile economic recovery appears to have stalled.
A new wave of polling this week shows that people are deeply pessimistic about the country's future and dissatisfied with Obama's management of the economy.
A survey by the Washington Post-ABC News showed that 77% believed the country was on the wrong track.
Obama is under pressure from his Democratic base to submit a bold package that would put a real dent in the jobless rate — and revive his reelection prospects.
To the extent he follows this advice, though, he risks alienating Republicans and even conservative Democrats who want to avoid anything that smacks of another expensive stimulus package.
Briefing reporters Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that impartial economists would conclude that the new jobs plan would "have a direct, quick and positive impact on the economy and job creation."
Carney also said the package would be "paid for," not financed through deficit spending.
Whether it can pass the Republican-controlled House is no sure thing. Obama has said the jobs plan would include ideas that Republicans have traditionally embraced. One such proposal is a tax credit for businesses that hire new workers, an idea that fits within Republican economic doctrine. But the level of polarization in Congress doesn't bode well for any new presidential initiatives.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) gave a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday predicting that Obama would unveil ideas that "represent more of the same failed approach that's only made things worse over the past few years, and resulted in even fewer jobs than when he started."
The top-ranking House Republican leaders sent Obama a letter Tuesday asking him to meet with congressional leaders of both parties and discuss his jobs package before laying it out in a nationally televised speech.
An aide to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said that the White House had not consulted Boehner in crafting the jobs package.
"Obviously, achieving bipartisan agreement on these and other initiatives requires more than just one side declaring a proposal to be 'bipartisan,'" wrote Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va).
Christi Parsons in the Washington bureau contributed to this report.