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Translating Obama’s Latest Effort

By Gunarso Nguyen

Eschewing the academic and professorial style for which he has been lambasted for in the past, President Obama’s publicly televised address to Congress to sell the American Jobs Act was a fiery, charismatic creature, more reminiscent of his early primary campaigning days, and possessed of a reserved, passionate eloquence seldom seen in American politics.

Pulling a page from the debt ceiling fiasco over the summer, Obama’s speech was directed more at the American people, rather than Congress itself, urging constituents to put pressure on their congressmen to pass the bill.

This speech made good use of repetition as a rhetorical device, using some variation of “Pass this bill” or “Pass this plan right away” somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 to 20 times, depending on how you want to count, to implore American citizens to pressure their representatives.  In particular, to specifically to convince the debt ceiling super-committee, already charged with cutting $1.5 trillion by Christmas, to cut an additional $450 billion in order to fund the American Jobs Act.

From an analytical perspective, though, it’s difficult to ascertain the effects of this $450 billion plan, especially given that the text of the bill won’t go before congress until the 19th of September.  The last stimulus package, which weighed in just short of a trillion dollars ($787 billion, to be exact), has been the target of a number of controversial tiffs from both sides of the aisle trying to determine its’ effectiveness. These arguments stem in no small part due to the White House’s projected estimates for job creation, which, depending on who you ask, has varied from completely ineffective to being an effective bandage on an economy hemorrhaging jobs.  These arguments have made the White House gun shy about making further predictions, this time leaving it entirely to economists.

Republican response has been lukewarm at best, although it can be characterized as mildly conciliatory, compared to the fire and brimstone rhetoric of the past several months.  Several parts, including payroll deductions for employers, were included in the bill and mentioned in the speech, likely as a public olive branch. If his boast is to be believed, at least 50 Republican lawmakers in the House support the concessions and ideas presented in the bill, which is more than enough legislative math to get it passed, barring filibusters or attempts to kill it in committee or other legislative shenanigans.

At a glance, though, the speech indicated that the bill will target job creation for construction workers, teachers, veterans, the long-term unemployed, and small business owners.  A significant portion is also to be allocated to renovating schools, but Vegas money says that that money is earmarked for high school age and earlier schools.  CCSU education majors look to be a significant beneficiary of the upcoming American Jobs Act, as would any business majors foolhardy enough to try their hand at starting a business in the current economic climate.  It is anticipated that even with heavy campaigning from President Obama, it will take somewhere in the neighborhood of six months to a year before this is passed.