Obama expected to discuss economic proposals on ‘Tonight Show’

By STEVEN HERBERT, City News Service
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President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Central Missouri in  Warrensburg, Mo., Wednesday, July 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Mo., Wednesday, July 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – President Barack Obama is expected to discuss his proposals to simplify the tax code for businesses and increase federal spending on infrastructure and community colleges on an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” today.

What Obama last Tuesday called a “grand bargain” with Republicans would eliminate provisions of the tax code he said encourages companies to shift jobs overseas; establishes a top corporate tax rate of 28 percent, down from 35 percent; provides incentives for businesses to invest in new plants by allowing them to expense up to $1 million for investments; and includes a minimum tax on foreign earnings to discourage locating production overseas or shifting profits abroad.

The changes to the tax code would be revenue neutral over the long term but also create one-time revenues that would be used to reduce deferred maintenance on highways, bridges, transit systems and airports; create a National Infrastructure Bank and bonds program encouraging private investments; establish up to 45 manufacturing innovation institutes and fund training at community colleges for jobs in high-growth and high-demand industries.

“We should be doing everything we can as a country to create more good jobs that pay good wages,” Obama said in a speech last Tuesday at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Ryan Mahoney, a regional press secretary for the Republican National Committee, said Obama “is simply regurgitating and repackaging dated proposals that haven’t put the economy back on track.”

“If President Obama really wants to get the economy moving again, he’d be better off working toward bipartisan solutions rather than giving speeches that offer nothing new,” Mahoney told City News Service.

A Los Angeles Times editorial said Obama “would be better off presenting new ideas than just repackaging old ones and hoping for a groundswell of public support to change GOP minds.”

“Although the combination was novel, Obama had floated all of those proposals over the last two yeas and they seem unlikely to receive a more positive response this time,” said the editorial published Wednesday.

“Frankly, the leaders of Congress’ tax-writing committees are far ahead of the president in pursuing bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform, not just for corporations, but for all taxpayers.”

Edward Leamer, a professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, called the infrastructure and community college elements of Obama’s proposal “very welcome” and overdue.

“There is an ongoing debate about what kind of medicine we need in order to get this recovery going,” Leamer said. “There are fiscal policy champions and monetary policy champions. There are very few champions of Main Street issues, which are workforce development. The infrastructure and community colleges are much more oriented toward Main Street than fiscal or monetary policy.”

Leamer also praised the proposed changes to the tax code, but said all the elements of the “grand bargain” would not significantly reduce unemployment “in the foreseeable future.”

“As a nation we just have to sort of suck it up and realize that we’ve got a big problem in workforce development and it doesn’t have a speedy cure,” Leamer said. “We’re going to have make some serious changes in the way that we get our kids going to school and what happens inside those schools in order to have a workforce that’s going to be employed.”

The “Tonight Show” appearance is part of a three-city, two-day western trip that will begin today in Arizona, where  Obama will tour a construction company and deliver a speech the White House described as laying out a plan to restore security to home ownership.

The trip will conclude Wednesday with a visit to Camp Pendleton in northern San Diego County, where Obama will visit with military families and deliver a speech to troops.

The “Tonight Show” appearance will be Obama’s fourth as president. He is the only sitting president to have appeared on the NBC late-night talk show, which premiered in 1954.

This will be Obama’s 15th trip to the Los Angeles area since taking office and just the third that does not include a speech at a political fundraiser. He has made 10 trips to the region solely for fundraising.

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