Obama, standing with Krueger in the Rose Garden on Monday, said he intended to reveal the much-anticipated new jobs agenda in a speech next week.
That address, coming at the end of a summer of worsening economic news and sagging poll numbers for the president, is shaping up as a pivotal moment as Obama tries to resuscitate his presidency with less than 15 months before he stands for reelection.
And yet, behind the scenes Obama and top aides had yet to reach agreement on the major tenets of that plan, and it remained unclear whether the president was looking for narrower ideas with a realistic chance of passing the Republican-led House or more sweeping stimulus proposals that would excite his liberal base and draw contrasts with the GOP.
“Everyone’s trying to read the tea leaves to see what the president is going to put forward,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
Obama offered few hints Monday.
“I will be laying out a series of steps that Congress can take immediately to put more money in the pockets of working families and middle-class families, to make it easier for small businesses to hire people, to put construction crews to work rebuilding our nation’s roads and railways and airports, and all the other measures that can help to grow this economy,” he said.
Obama said the plan would consist of “bipartisan ideas that ought to be the kind of proposals that everybody can get behind, no matter what your political affiliation might be.”
According to administration officials and others familiar with the matter, Obama is considering a tax cut that would directly reward companies for hiring new workers, new spending for environmentally friendly construction and for rehabilitating schools, and clean-energy tax cuts.
He is also developing programs to target long-term unemployment, potentially including a version of a Georgia unemployment insurance program that pays employers to hire workers who have been unemployed and provides funding for training.
At the same time, Obama may announce new programs to lift the housing market, such as a refinancing initiative that could pump tens of billions of dollars into the economy.
Obama also is likely to renew calls for renewing — and potentially expanding — ongoing efforts, such as a two-percentage-point cut in the payroll tax.
It was not clear Monday whether Obama intended his plan to be enacted as separate legislation or serve as recommendations to be taken up by a new, bipartisan committee of lawmakers that was set up this summer to map out a strategy for reducing the federal deficit.