smart spending

How Obama's $447 billion jobs plan affects you

Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform in Washington, D.C., applauded the speech but also noted that the administration will have to resolve the nation's housing crisis if the economy is expected to improve.

"The country needs large-scale mortgage modifications, including deep principal reductions, to resolve the problem and to help spur consumer demand," Donner said in a statement.

Obama's speech brought the audience of lawmakers to their feet with applause multiple times, as he pledged to keep debt low while also helping Americans without jobs.

"What I will not do is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades. I reject the idea that we need to ask people to choose between their jobs and their safety," he said.

Alternative proposals

Job creation is one of the hottest topics in Washington, with almost every interest group and politician weighing in with competing proposals. For example, the AFL-CIO has a six-point jobs plan that includes infrastructure spending and extended unemployment benefits, but it also stresses the importance of providing aid to state and local governments and strengthening export policy.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Manufacturers, based in Washington, D.C., criticized the White House for failing to act on pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. "There are several steps that the president can take immediately to grow our economy and make the U.S. more competitive," said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons, calling for speedy approval of pending project permits and less regulation.

"By proposing steps that seem nonthreatening and relatively affordable, Obama hopes to force his adversaries to acquiesce, at least to the measures they have supported in the past," wrote William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. "If they don't, he will be positioned to argue that Republicans are putting party above country, working to defeat him for re-election even at the cost of further slowing the economy and possibly tipping it into a second recession."

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