Government Could Create a Million Jobs, Obama Says

WASHINGTON—As President Barack Obama prepares to pitch a new jobs plan to Congress, he said Tuesday there are steps the government can take that could add up to a million jobs to the U.S. economy and boost growth by 1.5%.

“There is no doubt that we can take steps that would mean the economy was growing a percent or a percentage and a half faster. That could mean half a million to a million additional jobs,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with syndicated radio host Tom Joyner.

The remarks represent Mr. Obama’s most specific comments about the type of growth he sees the government creating, although over what time frame is unclear. They come just a week before he is scheduled to provide Congress with a series of ideas to boost the number of jobs and reduce the nation’s deficit.

An administration official said Mr. Obama wasn’t referring to his jobs plan, but was speaking more generally about growing the economy and impacting job growth. While adding one million jobs may not seem like much when 14 million people are unemployed, the economy added about 117,000 jobs in July.

It’s unclear exactly what new ideas Mr. Obama will provide to Congress and whether his plan will estimate the number of jobs it could create. The president has already pressed Congress to boost infrastructure spending, extend a payroll-tax cut and tax credits for employers to spur hiring.

Mr. Obama’s new ideas will be highly scrutinized and likely represent his last chance to provide a plan to revive the economy ahead of what is expected to be a contentious 2012 presidential race that will be dominated by concerns about the country’s economic future.

The president earlier Tuesday, in a speech to the American Legion in Minneapolis, said even though the economy is moving in the right direction, “We have to create more jobs, and we have to do it faster.”

He said he wants Congress to pass his yet-to-be-delivered jobs plan. “Next week, I’ll be speaking to the nation about a plan to create jobs and reduce our deficit—a plan that I want to see passed by Congress. We’ve got to get this done,” Mr. Obama said.

Separately, Mr. Obama on Wednesday in the Rose Garden will call on Congress to pass an extension of a road-construction bill, according to a White House official. Funding for the road construction bill ends in September and Mr. Obama has said it must be a top priority of Congress because it will protect tens of thousands of jobs.

The president will also call on Congress to extend funding for aviation projects. A fight over aviation spending this summer led to a partial idled airport construction and left thousands of workers without jobs temporarily. Funding for aviation projects also expires in September.

The president will be joined in the Rose Garden by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chief Operation Officer David Chavern and workers who would be affected if Congress doesn’t act, a White House official said.

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