WASHINGTON -- President Obama is pressing Congress to approve emergency aid money to support economic recovery and help avoid widespread layoffs of public workers, the Washington Post reported Saturday.
Congressional leaders received a letter from the president asking for almost $50 billion for distribution to state and local governments, saying that increased spending is “urgent and unavoidable,” the Post reported. The money would protect the jobs of teachers, police and firefighters.
“Because the urgency is high—many school districts, cities and states are already being forced to make these layoffs,” Obama wrote, “these provisions must be passed as quickly as possible.”
Obama’s plea comes despite last year’s $787 billion economic stimulus package, which worked to stabilize the failing economy, but did little to help the country’s high unemployment rate. At 9.7 percent, unemployment is nearly the same as it was a year ago.
Many economists are optimistic that packages such as this one could lower unemployment, but member of neither party seem eager to allow further spending; Republican concerns over record deficits are making Democrats think twice about approving more of Obama’s costly initiatives, the Post reported.
Obama, however, expressed that spending and national debt reduction could go hand-in-hand.
“These measures to jump-start private sector job creation, avoid massive layoffs at the local and state levels and help the unemployed are critical and timely ways to further that economic recovery,” the president wrote, adding that “robust economic growth is essential for achieving deficit reduction.”
Lawmakers remained skeptical.
“Democrats are showing either that they just don't get it on this issue of the debt, or that they just don't care,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in a reaction to the letter. “You can understand the American people's skepticism when they're told that simply adding more government is the solution to government's previous failures."