President Barack Obama pushed for more job creation during his State of the Union address last night. Facing the loss of two governor's races and the Massachusetts Senate seat formally held by Ted Kennedy to Republicans, Obama's speech focused on job creation through expanding small businesses.
The president called for Congress to begin crafting a jobs bill, and said he wants to redirect money from Wall Street banks to local banks to encourage lending to small businesses.
"[W]hen you talk to small business owners in places like Allentown, Pennsylvania, or Elyria, Ohio, you find out that even though banks on Wall Street are lending again, they're mostly lending to bigger companies. Financing remains difficult for small business owners across the country, even those that are making a profit. So tonight, I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat," Obama told members of the House and Senate.
Jackson developer David Watkins, the man behind the renovation of the King Edward Hotel and the ongoing development of the Farish Street Entertainment District, complained that he had a difficult time coaxing local loans for either project last year.
Watkins said that many local business owners spent the last year enduring tight-fisted treatment from banks who refused to lend money, even to developers with outstanding credit pushing for some of the most promising projects.
"I felt little more than fury at the local bank's unwillingness to loan money for my projects, especially after the government bailout (of Wall Street lending firms)," Watkins said last summer. "Heck, at one time I was so mad I actually had a little sympathy for people calling upon the government to take ownership of the banks."
Watkins could not be reached for comment this morning, but Brad Franklin, a spokesman for Watkins Development, said he had doubts that Obama's decision would materialize into easily available credit anytime soon.
"There's still apprehension from banks to lend money on projects like Farish Street, and it probably won't be any easier for the remainder of the year," Franklin said. "Right now, any idea that Obama puts out has to go through too many hoops to pass, and even then the economy moves so slow, you wouldn't see the benefit of any kind of legislation for maybe six or seven months, possibly even a year. None of these are quick solutions, so no Republican or Democrat is able to speculate on their effectiveness."
Obama also called upon Congress to help him "put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities," and praised recent efforts at job stimulation.
"Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed: 200,000 work in construction and clean energy; 300,000 are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, first responders. And we're on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year," Obama said.
The Web site dedicated to tracking federal job creation through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act claims the state of Mississippi reported a total of 3,433 new jobs by October 2009 through contracts, grants and loans arising from ARRA.
Fourteen students at Laborers' International Union Local 145 graduated in Jackson last November, after a three-week weatherization class. The union joined forces with South Central Community Action Agency to train recently unemployed workers for new jobs paying up to $15 an hour, thanks to the federal stimulus package. Union Local 145 President James Anderson said the construction recruits, both men and women, are guaranteed employment in weatherization effortswhich fall under Obama's "green jobs" category.
Obama demanded that Congress "give rebates to Americans who weatherize their homes, which supports clean energy jobs" by employing people like the Union graduates. He also demanded that the country encourage businesses "to stay within our borders" by slashing tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.
Republicans sat on their hands when Obama referenced slashing tax cuts for off-shore tax havens and remained silent when Obama called for a cut on capital-gains taxes for small businessesdespite tax cuts being a Republican favorite.
A CBS News poll revealed the public's overall approval with the State of the Union speech, despite the cold Republican reaction. Of the randomly selected 522 viewers questioned by CBS, 59 percent believed the president has a clear plan for creating jobs, compared to only 40 percent before the speech. In addition, 72 percent of viewers approved of the president's plan to deal with government spending; 71 percent believed Obama's economic plans will help ordinary Americans.
Franklin said he feared Americans would be discouraged by the amount of time required to set any improvement in motion, however.
"(Obama's) up against the slow physics of the economy," Franklin said. "People are looking for instant results, and because it isn't happening fast enough they're getting despondent."
I don't know if the other networks did so, but MSNBC showed a shot of Eric Cantor (R-VA) and House minority leader John Boehner (both sitting next to each other) and they both seemed to have disgusted looks on their faces when Obama talked about the $30B for community banks and when he talked of ending tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas. Here's where Obama and the Democrats can definitely win on.
- golden eagle
Obama presented some good populist ideas. The biggest obstacle, in Washington and all government, is the career politician and the lobbyist. The GOP and many of the Dems are going to fight any changes to the status quo. The conservative activists on the Supreme court have opened pandora's box when it comes to campaign spending. With the proliferation of multinational corporations there will be no telling who is backing whom or what agendas unless legislation is enacted to change the damage they have caused. Given Washington's inability to get anything accomplished, I an not hopeful. On the bright side , all the money flowing into the election process may make it possible to have a viable 3,4, or 5 party system rather than the two party system we have now.
- Jeffery R
Not by me!