President 'optimistic' jobs proposal will pass

President Barack Obama greets people who attended his speech at the University of Richmond’s Robins Center on Friday in Virginia.

WASHINGTON -- Wasting no time, President Barack Obama pitched his $447 billion jobs program of tax cuts and new spending on Friday on the turf of a Republican opponent, challenging Congress to "pass this bill." Republicans were noncommittal.

A day after addressing a joint session of Congress, Obama went to Richmond, Va., the district represented by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a prominent GOP critic of the president. "I know that folks sometimes think they've used up the benefit of the doubt, but I'm an eternal optimist," the president told more than 8,000 people at the University of Richmond. "I'm an optimistic person. I believe if you just stay at it long enough, after they've exhausted all the other options, folks do the right thing."

But Republicans did not line up to endorse the president's plan after Thursday night's address. "The proposals the president outlined tonight merit consideration," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said after Obama laid out an agenda that leaned heavily on payroll tax cuts to put money into the economy. "We hope he gives serious consideration to our ideas as well.

"It's my hope that we can work together," Boehner added.

While noncommittal, it was one of the more generous reactions from Republicans to a speech from a Democratic president in political trouble seeking bipartisanship to repair a long-ailing economy.

The president pledged to campaign for its enactment "in every corner of this country."

Obama offered no estimate of the number of jobs his plan would create. He said the tax cuts he is recommending would mean $1,500 a year for the typical working family and $80,000 for businesses with 50 employees of average pay.

WASHINGTON — A tentative thumbs-up.

That’s the assessment from economists, who have offered mainly positive reviews of President Barack Obama’s $447 billion plan to stimulate job creation.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, estimated that the plan would boost economic growth by 2 percentage points, add 2 million jobs and cut unemployment by a percentage point next year compared with existing law.

Susan Wachter, a finance professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, said that the Social Security tax cuts alone would add 1 percentage point to economic growth and create 1 million jobs next year.

Michael Hanson, a senior economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, predicted similar benefits. He thinks the additional jobs would lower the unemployment rate by nearly half a percentage point in 2012.

Associated Press