The Washington Post

White House: Obama exploring jobs plan to aid construction workers

 President Obama has promised to propose new ideas on how to create jobs in his post-Labor Day address to the nation. What those ideas will be has become a popular guessing game in Washington.

White House aides gave some clues Wednesday when they revealed the president had discussed with his Jobs and Competitiveness Council an initiative aimed at having construction workers retrofit commercial buildings to make them more energy efficient.

Both Obama and former president Bill Clinton have touted the retrofitting concept as a way to create up to 1 million jobs, according to the Jobs Council.

Obama talked about those plans Wednesday on a conference call with General Electric Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt and American Express Chief Executive Ken Chenault, who co-chair the jobs council, said deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest.

“They discussed a number of the proposals that the Jobs Council has been developing,” Earnest told reporters during his daily briefing in Martha’s Vineyard, where Obama is vacationing with his family. “And the president solicited their input on the policy -- again, on the policy process that’s underway related to the major economic address that the President will deliver after Labor Day.”

The project would put people to work and improve the environment, Immelt and Chenault wrote in a June op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

“More than two million construction workers don’t have work,” they wrote. “Every city in America has commercial buildings that can be made more energy efficient. Both the private and public sectors can step up to create good jobs and save energy.”

Earnest said the president also discussed ideas aimed at increasing the number of engineers who graduate from U.S. colleges and universities.

It is not clear how much either of these two proposals would cost or how they would be paid for. But with a new Congressional Budget Office report released this week showing unemployment remaining above 8 percent through 2014, there will be pressure on Obama to be bold in his jobs plan. Getting Congress to agree with his ideas is another matter.

“What’s going to be included in this plan are some reasonable ideas that could have a tangible impact on improving our economy and creating jobs,” Earnest said, “but there are also going to be the kinds of things that Republicans should be able to support. These are bipartisan ideas that the president is going to offer up.”

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David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.


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