“I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away. It’s called the American Jobs Act. There should be nothing controversial about this legislation,” President Barack Obama stated in his Thursday evening speech to a joint session of Congress. He then proceeded to propose modest tax cuts, significant spending increases, an unemployment insurance extension, Medicare and Medicaid reform, and tax loophole closures — all told, an estimated $447 billion in reduced revenue and increased outlays. It is difficult to fathom how such a plan could fail to be controversial.
Throughout his 33-minute speech Obama did his best to appear above the political fray, peppering his remarks with both conservative and liberal sentiments and chiding members of both parties for what he considered rigid adherence to ideology. At the outset he sounded like a Republican, offering a paean to the free market: “Ultimately, our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our businesses and our workers.” He proposed tax cuts and credits. He agreed that some spending is wasteful and some regulations are burdensome. He promised that his proposals would not add to the deficit. In the end, however, his spending proposals and — especially — his robust, spirited defense of big government left no doubt as to where his sympathies lay.
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Photo of Barack Obama: AP Images