Almost all of the commentary you hear about President Obama's jobs plan will come from people who have jobs — pundits with jobs, politicians with jobs, economists with jobs, journalists with jobs, bloggers with "jobs," and so on. What about those who have the most at stake in the success or failure of Obama's proposals — the unemployed? We reached out to a few of them to find out what they thought of the speech. Here are their (admittedly not very ideologically diverse) reactions:
Abby; New York, NY; 28; Democrat
I think the President's proposals make a lot of sense, and, as he said, are massively important for long-term growth and revitalization of the country. I appreciate that the proposals work on a number of different levels, that a person doesn't have to be a teacher or a construction worker to benefit from the plan thanks to the incentives for small business owners. But it's not enough to make me forget what's been going on and get over my cynicism. Obama kept referencing partisanship, how "the politics of the moment" could get in the way of Congress passing this bill, but that they shouldn't let that happen, and I don't see how this is even remotely possible. Meaningful compromise is a pipe dream with this Congress. I have no faith that the parties will come together to do this for America — all I see is spite and greed. And I wish all of the super-wealthy were as generous and thoughtful as Warren Buffet, but if they were, our country would already be a very different place. They're not, and their friends in Congress will fight to protect their cash as they always have. So in other words: great plan! It'll never happen.
Cheryl; Brooklyn, NY; 39; Democrat
I have to say I thought the speech was pretty fantastic. With addresses like this, it's not so much about the legislation package. We all know that drafting legislation is the sausage-making of government, and Lord knows what will get through and what won't. What a prime time address can do is grab America by the lapels and, if successful, throw all the national attention on an issue. And for the love of all that's holy, this desperately needs to be the case with unemployment. Sometimes I look around and wonder how folks can't be literally running through the streets screaming about this issue. I had savings when this happened to me (emphasis on "had"). The number of people completely slipping through the cracks of society is absolutely crushing. Employed people: Do you think about this? Do you not think it's your problem? Do you really believe that it can't happen to you?
Taylor; New York, NY; 26; Democrat
I thought Obama’s speech was fine. My opinion of him going into tonight wasn’t very high, and the speech did little to change it. But, like most of his speeches, he played it well, hitting the right notes and seeming appropriately fired up and confrontational at times. His suggestions and plans to stimulate growth sounded great; who can argue with good jobs for returning veterans and re-hiring laid-off teachers and tax rebates for the middle class and closing tax loopholes for the super-rich and rebuilding our infrastructure? The problem is I don’t believe him. I don’t think he’s lying, but I also don’t think he’d risk much to guarantee most of what he says. Then again, $450 billion is a lot, and it will probably be spent in a more efficient manner than the previous stimulus (presuming it somehow gets through Congress). Even so, a part of me, perhaps the part that reads Glenn Greenwald every day, just doesn’t trust him not to throw certain promises and principles under the bus if it seems politically expedient. In other words, I’ll believe in the American Jobs Act and the rest once I see results; until then it all sounds very nice.
Diane; New York, NY; 57; "Independent but usually votes Democrat"
I believe the president understands the situation, however, he is still trying to compromise with the Republicans about spending (hence admitting that certain programs need re-hauling). On the other hand, whether we are Democrat or Republican, the infrastructure and education system of our country need to be improved and if the government along with the private sector agree to work together, then jobs will be created.
The ideas presented are worthwhile and Congress should leave their partisan special interests to the side and think about their real constituents who are in trouble and pass the bill. I feel more hopeful because Boehner seemed open to the proposals, however, let's see how it all plays out in reality.
Brandi; Austin, Texas, by way of New York; 36; Democrat
While I wasn't surprised about the areas that Obama planned to create jobs, I still won't really be affected by the jobs. I don't work in any of those sectors, nor am I a student, etc. ... I do think that Congress has to do SOMETHING, and that Obama seemed rather stern and angry, continually saying 'Pass this Bill' — almost demanding. I like that. Especially after the debt ceiling mess .... I hope there is a lot that Congress can agree on. I hope the Republicans don't tear this bill completely apart and delay everything, only angering the American people. We are so sick of that!!! We need to get down to the nitty-gritty. I think this is a good step in that direction and hopefully will get some momentum going with the economy and job creation. Right now, I feel the same as I did yesterday, as I have no faith in Congress ... and I will continue to not have faith in Congress until I see them actually DO something. How can one man, one president, do anything with this Congress?