WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will lay out a jobs package worth more than $300 billion on Thursday, staking his re-election hopes on a call for urgent bipartisan action to revive the faltering economy.
With his poll numbers sliding to new lows amid voter frustration with 9.1 percent unemployment, Obama will make tax cuts for middle-class households and businesses the centerpiece of the plan and will press for new spending to repair roads, bridges and other deteriorating infrastructure.
He will use his televised speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress, at 7 p.m. EDT, to urge passage of those measures by year-end. He is expected to speak for 45 minutes.
If congressional Republicans reject his remedies, his strategy will be to paint them as obstructionists and blame them for the stagnating economy.
Stubbornly high unemployment has heightened fears that the economy could be headed for another recession. Net employment growth registered zero in August as a budget standoff in Washington and the European debt crisis spooked businesses and consumers.
Obama is under intense pressure to change perceptions that he has shown weak leadership. His economic stewardship has been criticized by both Republicans and fellow Democrats, casting a cloud over his prospects for re-election in November 2012.
“It’s a major leadership moment for Obama,” said Terry Madonna, a political scientist at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “He’s running out of months before voters settle in on whether his presidency has failed.”
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