With 14 million Americans unemployed and the defeat of Obama’s $445 billion jobs bill earlier this month, President Obama has taken on a new initiative. “We Can’t Wait” asserts his executive power to send immediate relief while a jobs bill would theoretically work its way through Congress, piece by piece.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters after the entire bill was thwarted that “We hope, moving forward, that perhaps by breaking it up Republicans will support it.”
Obama had earlier said he would push for a piece by piece approach if the entire bill was defeated to force Republicans to explain to their constituents why they voted against putting Americans back to work.
It’s still not clear whether or not this is the right approach, but it’s the subject of tonight’s Intelligence Squared debate.
As Intelligence Squared puts it:
For many Americans, unemployment is at the top of that list. In the face of a double-dip recession and an unprecedented long-term unemployment rate, President Obama unveiled the American Jobs Act before Congress. His plan? Lower the unemployment rate and stimulate the economy with $447 billion in employer tax breaks, jobless reintegration, state aid, and infrastructure projects, to be paid for with taxes on corporations and the wealthy. Will this plan bring a fast, effective boost to the job market, or will higher taxes punish job creators and sink us further into debt?
The motion: Congress should pass Obama’s jobs plan, piece by piece.
The early web voter results: 52% agree, 38% disagree and 9% undecided.
It’ll be the job of Princeton’s Cecilia Rouse and Moody’s Mark Zandi to convince the audience that Congress should pass the jobs plan. Opposing the motion is Cato’s Daniel Mitchell and University of Chicago’s Richard Epstein.
For those not familiar with Intelligence Squared debates, based on the Oxford-style format, the audience votes before the debate begins on where they stand on the issue. At the debate’s conclusion, the audience votes again and the side that gains the largest percentage of gain wins.
Come back to Think Tanked at 6:45 and we’ll have our own discussion of the debate as it unfolds.