Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
On Signing the HIRE Act [JOBS BILL]
Good morning. In a few moments, I’ll sign what’s called the HIRE Act – a jobs bill that will encourage businesses to hire and help put Americans back to work. Before I do, I’d like to say a few words about what this jobs bill will mean for workers, businesses, and America’s economic recovery.
There are a number of ways to look at an economic recovery. Through the eyes of economists, you look at the different stages of recovery. You look at whether an economy has begun to grow. At whether businesses have begun to hire temporary workers or increase the hours of existing workers. At whether businesses, small and large, have begun to hire full-time employees again.
That’s how economists measure a recovery – and by those measures, we are beginning to move in the right direction. But through the eyes of most Americans, recovery is about something more fundamental: Do I have a decent job? Can I provide for my family? Do I feel a sense of financial security?
The great recession took a terrible toll on the middle class, and on our economy as a whole. For every one of the over 8 million people who lost a job in recent years, there’s a story of struggle; of a family forced to choose between paying the electric bill, or the car insurance, or a daughter’s college tuition; of vacations, weddings, and retirements postponed.
But here’s the good news: a consensus is forming that, partly because of the necessary – and often unpopular – measures we took over the past year, our economy is growing again and we may soon be adding jobs instead of losing them. The jobs bill I’m signing today is intended to help accelerate this process.
I’m signing it, mindful, as I’ve said before, that the solution to our economic problems won’t come from government alone. Government can’t create all of the jobs we need or repair all of the damage done by this recession.
But what we can do is help promote a strong, dynamic private sector – the true engine of job-creation in this country. We can help provide an impetus for America’s businesses to start hiring again. We can nurture the conditions that allow companies to succeed and grow.
That’s exactly what this jobs bill will help us do. Now, make no mistake: while this jobs bill is absolutely necessary, it is by no means enough. There is a lot more we need to do to spur hiring in the private sector and bring about a full economic recovery – from helping creditworthy small businesses get the loans they need to expand, to offering incentives to make homes and businesses more energy-efficient, to investing in infrastructure so we can put Americans to work doing the work America needs done.
Nevertheless, this jobs bill will make a difference in several important ways. First, we’ll forgive payroll taxes for businesses that hire someone who’s been out of work for at least two months – a tax benefit that will apply to unemployed workers hired between last month and the end of this year. This tax cut says to employers: if you hire a worker who’s unemployed, you won’t have to pay payroll taxes on that worker for the rest of the year. And businesses that move quickly to hire today will get a bigger tax credit than businesses that wait until later this year.
This tax cut will be particularly helpful for small business owners. Many of them are on the fence right now about whether to bring on that extra worker or two, or whether to hire anyone at all. This jobs bill should help make their decision that much easier. By the way, I’d also note that part of what health insurance reform would do is provide tax credits to over 4 million small businesses so they don’t have to choose between hiring workers and offering coverage.
Second, this jobs bill encourages smaller businesses to grow and hire by permitting them to write off investments they make in equipment this year. These kinds of expenses typically take years to depreciate, but under this law, businesses will be able to invest up to $250,000 – in say, factory equipment – and write it off right away. Put simply, we’ll give businesses an incentive to invest in their own future – and to do it today.
Third, we’ll reform municipal bonds to encourage job-creation by expanding investment in schools and clean energy projects. Say a town wants to put people to work rebuilding a crumbling elementary school or putting up wind turbines. With this law, we’ll make it easier for them to raise the money they need to do that by hewing to the model of what are called Build America Bonds – one of the most successful programs in the Recovery Act. We’ll give Americans a better chance to invest in the future of their communities and of our country. Finally, this jobs bill will maintain crucial investments in our roads and bridges as we head into the spring and summer months, when construction jobs are picking up.
I want to commend all of those Members of Congress whose leadership made this bill possible, many of whom are with us today. I’m also gratified that over a dozen Republicans agreed that the need for this jobs bill was urgent, and that they were willing to break out of the partisan morass in Washington to help us take this forward-step for the American people. I hope it is a prelude to further cooperation in the days and months to come, as we continue the work of digging out of this recession and rebuilding our economy in a way that works for all Americans.
After all, the jobs bill I’m signing today – and our broader efforts to achieve a recovery – aren’t about politics. They’re not about Democrat versus Republican. This isn’t some game. They’re about the people in this country who are out of work and looking for a job; they’re about all of the Americans – of every race, region, and age – who’ve shared their stories with me.
The single mother who told me she’s filled out hundreds of job applications and been on dozens of interviews, but still hasn’t found a job. The father whose son told me he started working when he was a teenager, and recently found himself out of a job for the first time in his adult life. The children who write me, worried about their mothers, worried about their fathers, worried about what the future holds for their families.
That’s who I’m thinking about every morning when I enter the Oval Office. That’s who I’m signing this bill for. And that’s who I’ll continue fighting for so long as I have the privilege of serving as President. So, with that, let me sign this bill.