The Employment Speech of the Great Recession

Posted on September 9, 2011

Before President Obama’s employment speech to the joint session of Congress this evening, those of us concerned with economic and social inclusion had high hopes and fairly moderate expectations. In what was possibly THE speech of the Obama presidency, we needed guts. We needed speed. We needed intelligent, proven ideas that could be delivered immediately and make a serious dent in the US unemployment rate.

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We’re living in a country of proven downward mobility, where 1 in 3 Americans who grew up middle-class have slipped down the income ladder as adults. Where the percentage of working-age poor is now at the highest level since the launch of the 1964 War on Poverty. Where the “job creating” corporate sector has reported its highest profits on record. These are indisputable facts, whether you’re Republican, Democrat, or just plain peeved.

We needed a “nothing left to lose” bullet-train charge at an economy with 14 million officially unemployed and double that number underemployed or simply without work. We needed a plan for groups the recession has affected disproportionately: African Americans, working-age men, young people, female single parents and returning veterans. We needed a fiercely unapologetic pledge that employment isn’t a partisan issue, it’s a patriotic one.

On top of this, and with the few months of governing ability the President has left before the next election, he needed to re-set the relationship between people and their government.

President Obama delivered, with a robust statement on the role of government and the American Jobs Act:

  • a focus on construction workers, teachers, first responders, returning veterans, and the long-term unemployed,
  • a new tax credit for companies who hire new workers, with an emphasis on small business hires,
  • a tax credit to companies who hire returning veterans,
  • a tax credit for those who have spent more that 6 months looking for work and take up temporary employment,
  • expansion of Unemployment Insurance for 1 year for those experiencing prolonged hardship, and
  • modernization of 30,000 public schools, roads, bridges, transportation systems (contracts will be designed to attract private investment according to how badly the project is needed, and what it will actually do for the economy).

At InclusionUS, we’re working on projects that, in the President’s words, “meet the needs of our people and our communities:”

We support the American Jobs Act and we promote economic and social inclusion in the labor market. Let us know how we can help.

Natalie Branosky
Chief Executive,

7 Responses to “The Employment Speech of the Great Recession”

  1. Martin Betts UK
    Sep 09, 2011

    Well done Natalie…. tell it as it is! You’ll be the next Arianna Huffington lol. Best wishes on your new role. Martin

  2. Andrea Salinas
    Sep 14, 2011

    I couldn’t agree more, Natalie! And let’s make sure there’s an environmental justice lens on those jobs and projects we’re promoting. We want those jobs to have a long-term, sustainable benefit to the communities and populations they’re serving.

  3. Colin Geering UK
    Sep 14, 2011

    Insightful dispatch of potentially one of the biggest moments in the Obama Presidency.

    Jobs and ‘The Economy Stupid’ are going to be central to the battle for the White House and Obama has been astute in stealing a march on this agenda whilst the GOP are still battling each other for pole position.

    The line of attack is also smart tactically – framing the debate as being “are you for job creation or against it?” I am sure the debate should be much more nuanced but this rarely plays well in soundbites. Good politicking and it will be interesting to see how both houses respond.

    Keep up the dispatches Natalie, those of us this side of the Pond really appreciate the updates and perspective.

  4. Peter DeSimone
    Sep 14, 2011

    I recall speaking to you over the past two years about the progress of healthcare and financial reform. During the financial reform debate, you were prescient in reminding me and others of the pressing issues of jobs and poverty in the United States. The stimulus, even during those early days, was obviously insufficient given the depth of the recession and the other structural economic issues the United States was confronting and that continue to stymy growth. At the time, Congressional staff was saying that nothing was going to pass after financial reform given the political climate and the swing of the House to Republican control. There were many missed opportunities there before and after the passage of healthcare and financial reform, and you had aptly pointed to a much-neglected component of the Obama Administration’s strategy for recovery–jobs. Better late than never, I ask? I don’t know. Obama’s plan, while bold and innovative on certain points, obviously is less ambitious than he and other Democrats would like given the present political circumstances and strong opposition from Tea Party and other Republicans on short-term spending. Plus, Obama’s jobs bill is likely to get pared down quite a bit on its trip through Congress. It seems that we could possibly be doing more in reforming our unemployment benefits and job training programs to reflect present needs and innovations in other countries, such as The Netherlands. This will be a very interesting space to watch. I look forward to your future posts.

  5. Don Burback
    Sep 14, 2011

    I have clicked around the new site Natalie and I applaud the efforts.

    With reference to the jobs bill from last week, as of this afternoon no democratic member of the House has introduced it. I am not a believer in Keynsian demand side stimulus and doubt this idea will pass the Congress.

    What private business will add jobs with a promise of a temporary tax credit when they are all facing very large and permanent tax increases in 2013 from the healthcare law, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, and the new tax increases put forth in the administration’s ideas from last week?

    I would hope low income housing tax credits, historical building tax credits, new market tax credits and tax increment finance zones will be enhanced to incentivize private investment.

  6. Courtney King
    Oct 03, 2011


    That night as I watched President Obama talk about the American Jobs Act, I thought to myself..Ok here we have another great idea from the Obama administration.
    As an American, I know this is the land of the free and that one can do almost anything to prosper,strive and survive within creativity and innovative ideas. However, just as much as my last statement reigns truth, I and I assume others have also become immune to our social problems and the dream of becoming whatever you want reducing to familiarity breeds contentment.
    With that said, my fondness of this Jobs Act is strong and my expectations for this country is high. It is my hope this Act can implement what we need so more Americans can get employed and jobs become more sustainable. Long lasting results is needed.

  7. Chris Cahill
    Oct 22, 2011

    Keep up the focus! In Australia the government and whole community needs to keep working together as one to ensure no one is left behind. “Collaborate, Connect and Celebrate” toward the development of a Socially Inclusive society.

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Contact InclusionUS

US phone: 1 202 870 4871
UK phone: 07754 662 806

Contact InclusionUS

US phone: 1 202 870 4871
UK phone: 07754 662 806