Jackson pushes Obama to focus on construction

September 6, 2011

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(WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)
The civil rights leader says the president ought to push for jobs on a ‘mammoth’ scale.

As President Obama gears up for a Thursday speech before Congress about his jobs agenda, a civil rights leader in his hometown is urging him to focus on proposing massive investment in construction projects.

With official unemployment hovering above 9 percent, the president is expected to propose training for the long-term jobless, tax credits for companies that hire new workers and an extension of payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits.

Rev. Jesse Jackson said those steps won’t be enough. “You put people back to work fixing our infrastructure, our houses and our transportation,” he said. “We work our way out of the hole. We don’t complain our way out. [President Obama] has the key to, in fact, invest in a mammoth way in putting America back to work.”

In a Monday speech to Detroit union activists, the president did bring up infrastructure. But Republicans, who control the U.S. House, are indicating they will try to block new outlays that would add to the budget deficit.