In a spirited, 32-minute address that demonstrated he still has some fire left (but not so much fire that he would dare pre-empt the Republican debates or 2011 NFL kickoff), President Barack Obama called for Congress to "stop the political circus" and approve a $450 billion defibrillation of the flatlining U.S. economy.
He calls his plan the American Jobs Act, and what it lacked in surprises, it made up for in volume, finger-waving, and the unprecedented use of amateur hypnosis via the swinging of a pocket watch and repetition of the phrase, "Pass this jobs bill."
The proposal, essentially a second stimulus, would cut payroll taxes by half, allocate $105 billion for infrastructure and public works, extend unemployment benefits, and make the individual tax rate cut permanent. Sexy! And the best part is that the plan is already payed for. So there! (The president didn't get into the specifics of how, but rest assured, a detailed breakdown is due to Congress next week, entitled, "Malia and Sasha's Bake Sale Bonanza Pricing Sheet.")
The president stressed that there was "nothing controversial about this piece of legislation. Everything in here is the kind of proposal that's been supported by Democrats and Republicans." Predictably, the opposition side of the room sat in stony silence for most of it, perhaps contemplating golf and/or the sound of idling moving vans parked in the White House driveway. They did occasionally stand and applaud, however, whenever their microchips detected pre-programmed trigger-words like "tax breaks" and "Medicare reform."
Some highlights from the president's remarks*. (*Also works if sung to the tune of Musical Youth's "Pass the Dutchie.")
I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away. It's called the American Jobs Act.
It will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and hire, there will be customers for their products and services. You should pass this jobs plan right away.
Pass this jobs bill, and starting tomorrow, small businesses will get a tax cut if they hire new workers or raise workers' wages.
Pass this jobs bill, and all small business owners will also see their payroll taxes cut in half next year.
It's not just Democrats who have supported this kind of proposal. Fifty House Republicans have proposed the same payroll tax cut that's in this plan. You should pass it right away.
Pass this jobs bill, and we can put people to work rebuilding America.
The American Jobs Act will repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools....It's the kind of proposal that's been supported in the past by Democrats and Republicans alike. You should pass it right away.
Pass this jobs bill, and thousands of teachers in every state will go back to work.
Pass this jobs bill, and put our teachers back in the classroom where they belong.
Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get extra tax credits if they hire America's veterans.
Pass this jobs bill, and hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged young people will have the hope and dignity of a summer job next year.
Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get a $4,000 tax credit if they hire anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job.
Democrats and Republicans in this Chamber have supported unemployment insurance plenty of times in the past. At this time of prolonged hardship, you should pass it again - right away.
Pass this jobs bill, and the typical working family will get a fifteen hundred dollar tax cut next year.
Now is not the time to carve out an exception and raise middle-class taxes, which is why you should pass this bill right away.