Riding the momentum from improving unemployment numbers and encouraging bailout news, President Obama unveiled a series of ideas to generate job growth across the country but acknowledged that "there is only so much government can do."
"Job creation will ultimately depend on the real job creators: businesses across America," Obama said. "But government can help lay the groundwork on which the private sector can better generate jobs, growth, and innovation."
"These are areas in which we can put Americans to work while putting our nation on a sturdier economic footing," he said, "areas that will generate the greatest number of jobs while generating the greatest value for our economy."
But the president seemed mainly to repeat existing proposals by the administration to stabilize the economy.
Obama said the "continuing struggle" of small businesses obtaining loans to grow is one key area that his administration needs to address.
Building off of comments he made yesterday, the president said today that some of the repaid money and cost savings from the $700 billion bill TARP funds could be put toward small businesses to stimulate job growth.
"We're proposing to waive fees and increase the guarantees for SBA-backed loans. And I am asking my Treasury Secretary to continue mobilizing the remaining TARP funds to facilitate lending to small businesses," he said.
Obama said Monday that he will address the issue of making sure small businesses are still lending, in order to accelerate job growth.
"Although we stabilized the financial system, one of the problems that we're still seeing all the time, and I heard about it when I was in Allentown [Pa.] just this past week, is the fact that small businesses and some medium sized businesses are still feeling the huge credit crunch," the president said. "They cannot get the loans they need to make capital adjustments that would allow them to expand employment. And so that's a particular area where we might be able to make a difference."
Obama also proposed a substantial increase in infrastructure spending, particularly for roads, bridges and communications networks, building on stimulus spending for those kinds of projects.
"These are needed public works that engage private sector companies, spurring hiring across the country," he said.
The president announced a new program to provide greater incentives for consumers to weatherize their homes and businesses to make them more energy efficient. He said these projects create jobs, save families money and reduces pollutions.
This proposal is an expansion of initiatives already included in the Recovery Act, which Obama said "have proven particularly popular and effective."
"It's a positive sign that many of these programs drew so many applicants for funding that a lot of strong proposals -- proposals that will leverage private capital and create jobs quickly -- did not make the cut," he said. "With additional resources, in areas like advanced manufacturing of wind turbines and solar panels, for instance, we can help turn good ideas into good private-sector jobs."