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Obama: US faces crisis, pushes jobs plan

In an address to a joint session of Congress U.S. President Barack Obama said that the United States faces a "national crisis" with an economy that has stalled as he urged Congress to act quickly on a nearly 450 billion dollar job-creation plan he is proposing. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama , saying: (English): "The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. The question tonight is whether we'll meet ours. The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy; whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning. With his poll numbers at new lows amid voter frustration with a 9.1 percent unemployment rate , Obama used a high-stakes address to Congress to pitch a sweeping economic plan that is critical to his re-election chances but he faces an uphill fight with Republicans. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama , saying: (English): "It will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled and give companies confidence that if they invest and hire there will be customers for their products and services. You should pass this jobs plan right away," He said his jobs plan would cut taxes for workers and businesses and employ more construction workers and teachers. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama , saying: (English): "The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working. It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for the long-term unemployed. It will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business. He also took aim at Republicans. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama , saying: (English): Should we keep tax loopholes for oil companies? Or should we use that money to give small business owners a tax credit when they hire new workers? Because we can't afford to do both. Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs? Right now, we can't afford to do both. This isn't political grandstanding. This isn't class warfare. This is simple math." Obama wants Congress to pass his "American Jobs Act" by the end of this year. But that may be hard to achieve with politicians already focusing on the presidential and congressional elections in November 2012. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters

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