Good morning. As too many Americans know firsthand, the economy began to slow early last year, and terrorism has hit us hard. Many workers have lost jobs, and others are seeing their hours cut. The American people want action to improve our economy, and so do I.
More than 2 months, and more than 700,000 lost jobs ago, I proposed an economic security package to help workers who have been laid off and to take action to create jobs and promote long-term economic growth. The House of Representatives quickly responded, passing its own legislation to help jumpstart the economy. The Senate has failed to act. And while the Senate has failed to do its work, more and more Americans have been thrown out of work.
To break the logjam in the Senate, I reached out this week to moderate Democrats and Republicans to build a consensus that gave both parties some of what they want and, most important, will give our economy the boost it needs. This bipartisan package will give workers who have lost a job since the recession began last March an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits. It will also help unemployed workers keep their health insurance and will give Governors greater resources and more flexibility to assist those in need.
These new bipartisan measures help working families who are struggling to make ends meet, giving up to $600 cash refund to low income families who don't earn enough to pay income tax but still pay part of their income in payroll taxes. And this plan helps middle class families, couples earning approximately $60,000, and individuals earning $40,000 by speeding up planned tax relief for them, as well.
This installment of tax relief was scheduled for 2004. Under this new idea, many middle class families will see a rise in their take-home pay in just a couple of weeks.
And finally, this agreement will create jobs. Among other steps, it gives employers incentives to invest in new equipment right away. It lowers the tax rate for 10 million small businesses and entrepreneurs, making it easier for them to expand and grow and hire new workers. It focuses on other policies that will also increase investment and produce new jobs.
This economic growth package is urgently needed. Today the Federal Government's Council of Economic Advisers released a report that estimates the bipartisan agreement reached this week can save 300,000 American jobs that might otherwise be lost if we fail to act.
Democrats and Republicans set aside partisan politics to arrive at this agreement. They want to get something done for America's workers. We believe this agreement has enough votes to be approved by the United States Senate, and I'm ready to sign it into law. But first the Senate leader must schedule a vote.
On behalf of the American workers and our American economy, I call on the leadership of the Senate to bring this bipartisan economic recovery plan to a vote, to bring help to unemployed workers and a crucial boost to our economy.
The holidays are upon us, and time is running out. While some in Washington are looking for reasons not to act, many in Congress in both parties want to find a way to get the job done. America's workers are counting on us.
Thank you for listening.