Rybak pushes Obama’s jobs act

by Jill Jensen

As unemployment has remained steady in Minnesota, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak advocated for the American Jobs Act Tuesday, which he said could generate thousands of new jobs for the state in 2012.

President Barack Obama presented the $447 billion dollar bill and pushed Congress to pass it.

Reactions from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been lukewarm at best. Senate Democrats are rewriting parts of ObamaâÄôs bill to substitute provisions to pay for it with a 5 percent tax increase on millionaires, according to the Associated Press. 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told the Associated Press that he will bring the bill to the floor next week.

But Rybak said in a conference call Tuesday that the proposal focuses on creating jobs in small businesses sectors and construction.

He said if the bill passes, it will affect 120,000 small businesses in Minnesota by cutting payroll taxes in half for the first $5 million in wages.

Among the investments proposed in the act, Minnesota highway and transit projects would receive about $600 million, which Rybak said would support about 7,900 construction jobs.

Through a payroll tax cut, it would also put about $1,500 back in the pockets of some Americans, as well as create initiatives to help decrease long-term unemployment, like a $4,000 tax credit if a business hires them, said acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank.

In August, 7.2 percent of Minnesotans were unemployed, a tenth of a percentage point higher than last year at this time, according to seasonally adjusted data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

The unemployment rate in August nationwide was slightly over 9 percent.

Blank said the proposal puts an âÄúextra bit of wind under the sailsâÄù of small businesses and families to create economic growth, which isnâÄôt happening fast enough.

âÄúWeâÄôre clearly at a moment where this is necessary if we want the economy to grow at a higher rate,âÄù said Blank, a University of Minnesota economics graduate.