MIAMI (CBS4) – In Thursday’s address before the Joint Session of Congress, President Barack Obama detailed his plan called the “American Jobs Act.”
It would cost nearly $450 billion, though the President says it won’t add to the deficit. It would cut payroll taxes in half for 160 million workers and extend unemployment benefits. The plan would spend money on rebuilding infrastructure, including schools.
The President also says the plan would offer tax credits to businesses who hire long-term unemployed workers and would allow more Americans to refinance their homes at today’s near four percent interest rates.
Likely watching this speech very closely were the 14 million unemployed Americans.
South Florida’s jobless rate is higher than the national average.
Donavan Clarke and Angelica Gonzalez are two of those unemployed Americans. They have been jobless for more than a year.
“Going on two years now,” said Clarke.
“I’ve been looking for that full time position for a good while,” said Gonzalez.
As they watched the President’s address, they both worried about how much time it would take for Congress to make some impact on their emptying bank accounts.
“The longer they take to get things going is the longer it takes to reach us,” said Clarke.
“I’m just really hoping it gets passed,” said Gonzalez.
While Gonzalez supports the President’s new plan, she also has concerns. She’s looking for work in the medical industry, but she heard the President say, “We have to reform Medicare to strengthen it.”
“He didn’t mention any timeline as to when it would be back to what it was before, what it is now, or what better possibilities it could be,” said Gonzalez.
Those questions, she says, could make the medical industry nervous to hire.
For Clarke, the most important issue is whether Congress can help keep jobs in the U.S.
“My job was outsourced to India,” said Clarke.
Donavan worked in global banking. He supports the President’s message about the U.S. tax code: “It should give an advantage to companies that invest and create jobs right here in the United States of America,” the President said.
“When the President talks about keeping jobs here in America, I can very much vouch for that,” said Clarke.
They both say Congress needs to act quickly on some plan, putting politics aside.
“Regardless of our political differences, we need to come together and just get through this,” said Gonzalez.
Both Clarke and Gonzalez say they’re not picky. They’re looking for any work. They hope to be among those hired if businesses are given more incentives to hire.