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Obama to propose $300 billion jobs package: report

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama, facing waning confidence among Americans in his economic stewardship, plans to lay out a $300 billion job-creation package on Thursday, CNN reported, citing Democratic sources.

The proposed new spending, to be announced by Obama in a nationally televised speech to Congress, would be offset by budget cuts, the report said, signaling that the Democratic president hopes to mollify the concerns of Republican fiscal hawks resistant to his jobs ideas.

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There was no immediate comment from the White House.

Obama’s aides have refused to go public with the estimated cost of Obama’s package or provide many specifics in advance, except to say that the proposals will have a “quick and positive” impact on boosting jobs at a time of stubbornly high U.S. unemployment.

Confidence in Obama’s management of the economy has been hit by months of bad economic news and several polls on Tuesday showed fresh declines in his job approval ratings.

Obama hopes to start reversing this trend in an address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday, in which he will try to convince voters that he has a better economic recovery plan than his Republican opponents.

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“We need to do things that will have a direct impact in the short-term to grow the economy and create jobs and the president will put forward proposals that will do just that,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Obama fought Republicans all summer to lift the U.S. debt ceiling in a bitter debate that saw rating agency Standard & Poor’s cut the U.S. AAA credit rating, and he must now get lawmakers to back additional spending that many oppose.

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However, the president is seeking congressional support at a time when his own prospects of re-election have worsened.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed Obama’s job approval rating at a low of 44 percent, while an ABC News/ Washington Post poll found that six in 10 Americans now rate the president’s job on the economy and jobs negatively.

A third survey by Politico and George Washington University found that 72 percent of voters believe the country is either strongly or somewhat headed in the wrong direction, a jump of 12 percent since last May.

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Obama must get unemployment down from levels currently above 9 percent to improve his chances of winning a second White House term in the November 2012 election.

The president has already touched on a various steps Congress could take to lift growth and hiring, including infrastructure spending, business tax breaks, and extending a payroll tax cut and aid for the long-term unemployed.

Carney declined to lay out any specifics but said the measures Obama would recommend would yield a “direct, quick and positive impact” on the U.S. economy if they were enacted by Congress.

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Republicans criticized Obama for not including them in discussions on the package before his big speech and indicated any jobs bills could face tough passage through Congress, where they control the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I have no doubt the president will propose many things on Thursday that, when looked at individually, sound pretty good, or that he’ll call them all bipartisan. I’m equally certain that, taken as whole, they’ll represent more of the same failed approach,” said the top Senate Republican, Mitch McConnell.

Republican House leaders separately wrote to Obama urging him to repeal “excessive, job-destroying regulations” and laying out possible areas of common ground, including reforms to the unemployment system and free trade agreements.

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(Reporting by Alister Bull, Laura MacInnis, Matt Spetalnick, Joanne Allen and David Morgan; editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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