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President Obama’s Address to Congress: What Did You Think?

“Those of us here tonight can’t solve all our nation’s woes. Ultimately, our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our businesses, and our workers. But we can help. We can make a difference. There are steps we can take right now to improve people’s lives.”

The White HouseThese were some of President Obama’s words in his Presidential Address to Congress just a few days ago, as he stressed the need for Congress to pass the American Jobs Act. Many of us watched, or tweeted about it, or argued about it over dinner — and some of us, like CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson, were discussing hopes for the speech to come before it happened.

The purpose of the American Jobs Act, President Obama said, is simple — “to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working.” So what exactly did President Obama say to explain that would happen? I’ve recapped the highlights here of what Obama says the American Jobs Act will do if passed:

What President Obama says the American Jobs Act will do (in his own words):

  • Lead to new jobs for construction workers, for teachers, for veterans, for first responders, young people, and for the long-term unemployed.
  • Provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers or raise workers’ wages, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business.
  • Provide a jolt to an economy that is stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and if they hire, there will be customers for their products and their services.
  • Cut payroll taxes cut in half next year for all small business owners. (If you have 50 employees making an average salary, that’s an $80,000 tax cut).
  • Repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools.
  • Put people to work right now fixing roofs, and windows, and installing science labs and high-speed Internet in classrooms all around this country.
  • Put thousands of teachers in every state back to work.
  • Give companies extra tax credits if they hire America’s veterans. As Obama explained, “We ask these men and women to leave their careers, leave their families, risk their lives to fight for our country. The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home.”
  • Give companies a $4,000 tax credit if they hire anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job. President Obama: “We have to do more to help the long-term unemployed in their search for work.”
  • Extend unemployment insurance for another year.
  • Provide tax credits to companies that hire new workers, tax relief to small business owners, and tax cuts for the middle class.
  • Cut away the red tape that prevents start-ups from raising capital and going public

Other points of emphasis:

  • Obama stressed that we can’t grow the economy and create jobs by both keeping tax loopholes for all companies, and giving small business owners a tax credit when they hire new owners — we must choose.
  • He also acknowledged that the American Jobs Act addresses the urgent need to create jobs right away — but that we have to look more into the future and make a lasting impact in order to make America competitive “for the long haul.”
  • He wants to make sure the next generation of manufacturing takes place not in other countries, but here in the United States.
  • “The people who hired us to work for them — they don’t have the luxury of waiting 14 months (until the next election).” He mentioned, as we have before, that some people are living week to week, paycheck to paycheck, or day to day – they need our help, and they need it now.

Before he ended his speech, Obama brought up Abraham Lincoln, and talked about how, in the middle of a civil war, Lincoln was also a leader who looked to the future. He was a Republican president who was able to mobilize government, Obama pointed out — leaders of both parties followed the example he set. Obama’s message in this comparison was clear — now is not the time for politics, but for putting them aside to make changes necessary for a better economy. But how successful was he in his plea?


Watch President Obama’s Address to Congress in its entirety:


How do you think we can create more jobs and make long-term economic improvements?

Amy K. McDonnell

About Amy K. McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the editorial manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.
Amy Chulik
Amy Chulik

Thanks for your input, Tim! We'll be watching closely as well to see what happens.

Tim Markin
Tim Markin

This bill needs to pass. period. We need UI back until work picks up steady. I live in a neighborhood where there used to be alot of us construction workers. Now a lot of for sale signs. Arizona government said there's work. They are full of IT. Good speech Mr. President,,, NOW make it happen. please.!!


  1. [...] Proposes Several Payroll Tax Cuts in Jobs BillCareerBuilders’s Amy Chulik does a great job of outlining what was discussed in Obama’s Presidential Address to Congress on September 8th… where he stressed the need for Congress to pass the American Jobs Act.  Here are some [...]

  2. [...] Proposes Several Payroll Tax Cuts in Jobs BillCareerBuilders’s Amy Chulik does a great job of outlining what was discussed in Obama’s Presidential Address to Congress on September 8th… where he stressed the need for Congress to pass the American Jobs Act.  Here are some [...]

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