[One] of the concerns that I've had over the course of the last several months -- in fact, the last couple of years -- are the layoffs that we've seen in education and the cutbacks we've seen in education all across the country. States and local governments are under a big crunch. And at precisely the time when we need to be emphasizing education and putting our resources into education, we're seeing cutbacks all across the board. Teachers are losing their jobs. Schools are having to cut back on vital programs that are helping young people.
And the American Jobs Act, the bill that I put before Congress, would help to curb some of those trends.
Now, Congress will have an opportunity to take steps to alleviate the crisis.
Monday in the Senate, Democrats introduced the Teachers and First Responders Act -- a $35 billion program designed to preserve jobs for educators, police officers, and fire fighters. Their proposal is the first part of the American Jobs Act, and Senator Harry Reid, the Majority Leader, pledged to bring it to a vote, perhaps before the end of this week.
But as the President told folks in Jamestown, that's just the first step. The American Jobs Act is about getting people all over the country back on the job:
Congress will have a chance to say whether unemployed Americans should continue to struggle -- or whether we are going to put them back to work, making our schools state-of-the-art; making sure that our roads and bridges aren’t crumbling. They’re going to have a chance to vote on whether or not we’re going to give people who are long-term unemployed a chance to get back on the job and reform our unemployment insurance system, and build a better life. They’re going to get a chance to take a stand on whether we should ask people like me to pay our fair share so that middle-class families and small businesses can get a tax cut.