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Kathleen Sebelius Headshot

Congress Should Act Now on President's Jobs Plan

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On Thursday, President Obama unveiled the American Jobs Act, a comprehensive plan composed of some of the best bipartisan ideas to jumpstart job creation -- not in a year, not in six months -- but right now.

When I travel around the country, this is exactly the kind of action people tell me they want from Washington. They appreciate how far we've come from the depths of the economic crisis at the end of 2008 when our economy was losing 700,000 jobs a month. But when they look around their community, they still see too few jobs, wages that aren't going up fast enough, and an economy that is not back at full strength.

The proposal President Obama put forward will provide an immediate boost to America's economy. It will cut the payroll tax in half for 98 percent of businesses, putting more resources into the pockets of America's best job creators. And there will also be a payroll tax holiday for any businesses that add workers or increase wages, creating a powerful incentive for companies to start hiring right away.

In addition, the plan will prevent layoffs of up to 280,000 teachers, while helping local communities keep police officers on the street and firefighters in engine houses. It will offer special tax credits for businesses that hire unemployed veterans, who deserve to return home to the chance to earn a decent wage and support their families. And it includes a historic reform of unemployment insurance to make it easier for unemployed Americans to rejoin the workforce.

Because we cannot build our future prosperity on a pile of debt, the president's plan will be fully paid for. But it also recognizes that when it comes to the health of our economy, we cannot take a wait and see approach. We can't afford any more grandstanding or games in Washington. The American people are looking at us to act. And now that President Obama has sent Congress a plan, they have the chance to do just that.

From my first day on the job as Secretary of Health and Human Services, President Obama has made getting the economy back on track our top priority. And over the last two years, that's been our focus, from a health care law that's reducing the burden of health insurance bills on small businesses, to investing in cutting edge biomedical research, to supporting job training programs, to sparking rapid growth in America's emerging health IT sector, to investing in our health care infrastructure.

In fact, on Friday we'll announce the availability of $700 million in new funding to support the renovation and construction of community health centers -- an investment that will create thousands of good jobs in construction and health care while enabling more Americans to get the kind of affordable primary care that can keep them healthy and out of the hospital.

But more action is needed. Across the country, there are too many parents who are ready to work and want nothing more than to support their families, but can't find jobs. There are too many small business owners who are watching their businesses fail because their customers have no money in their bank accounts. The common sense ideas that President Obama has proposed will build on the efforts of the last two years, and provide an immediate spark to our economy. That's why Congress should act quickly to pass the American Jobs Act and send it to the president to sign.