WASHINGTON (CN) – Democratic senators announced plans Thursday morning to introduce a new jobs bill soon, saying they would act quickly, but they gave few details on what the bill would do. “Our number one emphasis is going to be creating jobs,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said.
The announcement reflects President Obama’s recent shift in focus from health care to jobs, which he emphasized in last week’s State of the Union address.
As the nationwide unemployment rate hovers at 10 percent, Democrats — including Obama — have felt a loss of public support.
But New York Democrat Charles Schumer said Democrats shouldn’t shrink away from their ambitious and diverse agenda.
“The message of
Reid praised the bill. “Our jobs agenda will help small businesses thrive, make our homes and buildings more energy efficient, invest in improving roads and bridges and put more police on the streets and teachers in the classrooms,” he said, without giving more detailed information.
A document distributed at the news conference said the agenda could include a tax cut for businesses that hire, an extension of unemployment benefits, and funding of infrastructure projects.
But Reid did not say how much the legislation would cost, how it would be paid for, or how many jobs it might create. “We’re going to create as many as we can,” he said.
Illinois Democrat Richard Durbin said, “This is a good-faith offer on the Democratic side. We are inviting our friends on the Republican side to join us.”
Reid said Democrats will introduce the legislation on their own if Republicans don’t contribute to the bill.
In the budget that Obama submitted to Congress earlier this week, the government would reward small businesses with a $5,000 tax credit for every employee they hire this year and would give tax breaks for raises in salary beyond inflation.
The government has already taken steps to tackle unemployment, mostly through the Recovery Act, which designated $787 billion to projects to spur job growth, largely in increased infrastructure spending. So far, $268 billion has been paid out.