By George E. Condon Jr.
September 12, 2011Displaying a speed they hope communicates a sense of urgency, the White House on Monday afternoon sent to Congress legislative language designed to implement the jobs program outlined by President Obama only four days ago in his address to the nation. The 155-page bill includes the details of spending and taxes with a specificity rarely produced by a White House that has preferred to sketch in broad outlines while leaving the numbers to Congress.
In his accompanying message to Congress, the president insists that the bill is "fully paid for," adding, "The legislation includes specific offsets to close corporate-tax loopholes and asks the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share that more than cover the costs of the jobs measures."
The bill includes several tax measures the administration contends would cover the costs of the programs proposed. But the White House, in an analysis and explanation prepared, states that none of these have to be implemented if the special super committee set up by last month's debt deal exceed their $1.5 trillion deficit reduction target by the $447 billion cost of the extra spending called for by the president.
Barring that, the measures outlined by the administration include several measures previously rejected by Congress under both Republican and Democratic control. These include putting a 28 percent cap on deductions and exclusions claimed by taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes above $250,000 for married couples and $200,000 for individual taxpayers. That would take effect Jan. 1, 2013.
Also, the administration wants to close loopholes affecting corporate jets, drilling for gas and oil, depletion on oil and gas wells, and modification of foreign tax credits.
The bill provides a look at the price tags the administration puts on many of the programs spoken of by the president in his address on Thursday to a joint session of Congress. It calls for the appropriation of $5 billion to rehire police, $25 billion to modernize and renovate public schools, $5 billion for community-college modernization, $2 billion for airport-development grants, $1 billion for FAA air-navigation facilities, $27 billion for highway repair and construction, $4 billion for passenger rail, $2 billion of Amtrak repair and upgrade, $6 billion for buses and bus facilities, $5 billion for surface-transportation projects, $3 billion for other transit projects, $15 billion for rehabilitating vacant and foreclosed houses, $7 billion to build and operate a nationwide public-safety broadband network, $4 billion for a program to give jobs to long-term unemployed, and $5 billion for a "Pathways Back to Work" fund.
The bill does not put a price tag on an extension of the current temporary reduction in the payroll tax for employees or on the proposed temporary tax credit for employers.
By George E. Condon Jr.
September 12, 2011