President Obama unveiled a larger-than-expected jobs bill proposal to a joint session of Congress on Thursday night, repeatedly urging to legislators to pass the bill to help inject some life in the struggling job market.
The $447 billion package features a combination of tax breaks and stimulus spending that Obama hopes will provide jobs for construction workers, teachers, veterans and others. Anticipating that most Republicans will likely oppose the measure on the basis of too much government spending, Obama made sure to highlight the fact that his proposal was similar to ones both Democrats and Republicans have supported in the past.
"The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities," Obama said. "The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours. The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy."
The early response to the speech seemed to be surprisingly positive from both sides of the aisle. Speaker of the House John Boehner said in a statement that the ideas outlined in the speech "merit consideration," a sterling endorsement for the oft-curmudgeonly congressman.
Conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan was a surprising supporter of the speech. Sullivan, writing for The Daily Beast, said that the 32-minutes address was a "blunt, potent, confident attempt" to both win back his base which has become increasingly frustrated as well as reach across the aisle.
The Wall Street Journal was one of the few critics of the speech, saying that "had Mr. Obama proposed a permanent cut in tax rates, or a major tax reform, or a moratorium on all new regulations for three years, he'd have our support."