Administration officials stump for Obama's jobs plan
Two top officials in President Barack Obama's administration who deal with jobs -- U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis (right) and Council of Economic Advisers Chair Christina Romer -- told regional reporters in a conference call Tuesday that the president's latest economic proposals were the nation's best options.
In his speech earlier in the day, Obama summed up his jobs plan: tax breaks and incentives for small businesses; modernizing transportation and communications; and helping to make homes more energy efficient.
"Small business, infrastructure, clean energy -- these are areas in which we can put Americans to work while putting our nation on a sturdier economic footing," said the president. "That foundation for sustained economic growth -- that must be our continuing focus and our ultimate goal."
While Obama suggested that some federal bailout money (or TARP funds) might be tapped, both officials emphasized that many of the implementation details, including money, were "still pretty much in flux,'' as Romer put it.
In response to a question from the Beacon, both agreed that the health-care debate was linked to the nation's economy because those who lose jobs often lose their health insurance as well.
That linkage, plus the rising cost of health insurance, are among the reasons that Obama thought that the nation's health-insurance issues needed to be dealt with now, Romer (right)said.
Solis said she hoped Congress will act quickly on proposals to extend unemployment insurance and federal help for COBRA health coverage, which allows people who lose their jobs to continue temporarily to keep their group insurance by paying a larger share of the premiums.