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Obama will unveil plan to help jobless; Includes tax cuts, construction work

Under fire in a nation desperate for jobs, President Obama will soon announce a broad package of tax cuts, construction work and help for the millions of Americans who have been unemployed for months, a White House official said Wednesday.

Republicans immediately cast doubt on any such plan, setting up a fresh economic showdown as the presidential campaign intensifies.

Obama will unveil his economic strategy in a speech right after Labor Day, hoping to frame the autumn jobs debate by pressuring Republicans in Congress to act or face the voters' wrath.

The construction work could include tens of billions of dollars to renovate thousands of dilapidated public schools, McClatchy Newspapers said.

The country is in a deep state of disgust about Washington politics, putting pressure on both parties to help the economy quickly -- or somehow position the other side to take the blame.

To pay for his jobs ideas, Obama will challenge the new "super committee" in Congress to go well beyond its goal of finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, with part of the savings used to cover some of his economy-jolting program without sinking the nation deeper in debt. But he already faces trouble from Republican members who have ruled out tax hikes.

It's all leading to a sharp campaign for public opinion, with the outcome shaping the presidential and congressional elections in 2012.

Obama, as the most visible target for voter ire, is seeking re-election with unemployment north of 9 percent. No incumbent in recent times has won a second term with the jobless rate anywhere near that high.

The final details of Obama's new economic plan have not been decided, and it is expected to be broader than the proposals known so far.

It is likely to include tax cuts for the middle class, a construction program that goes beyond any previous infrastructure proposal and help for people who have been unemployed for many months in a row.

In Illinois on Wednesday, Obama outlined his plans to help the fragile economy and have the costs covered as part of a broad plan to reduce the deficit. He pledged to present a specific way to do both to the super committee assigned to come up with a deficit-slicing plan before Thanksgiving.

Obama has spent much of a three-day Midwest bus tour lobbying people to pressure their members of Congress to deal with him. "If you're delivering that message, it's a lot stronger than me delivering that message because you're the folks ultimately that put those members of Congress into office. All right?" he said at a town hall in northwest Illinois.

On the campaign trail, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney needled Obama on his latest jobs package and deficit plan. "Too little, too late," he said in New Hampshire. "But we appreciate the fact that he's going to devote some time to it -- not just going to be on the bus tour, not just going to be vacationing in Martha's Vineyard."

House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said Democrats have sat on GOP jobs bills in the Senate. He said the burden was on Obama to offer the country fresh proposals "that depart from his previous policies and allow us to find common ground."

The liberal advocacy group asked its members to phone the White House and keep pressure on Obama not to "placate" Republicans who are being pressed in turn by the tea party. "He needs to start listening to the vast majority of the American people who say job creation is the No. 1 priority and the rich and corporations should be taxed more, not less," the group's email said.

Obama wants to tax the wealthy more as one way to cut the deficit. But facing a potentially catastrophic government default, he settled for a deal with Congress this month that trimmed the debt without new revenues, just spending cuts.

Obama is trying again by working to influence the new super committee in Congress. "You've got to have everything on the table," he said Wednesday, meaning taxes and popular health programs.

Nearly 14 million people are out of work, and that doesn't count the millions more who have given up trying to find jobs or who have part-time employment when they want full-time.

The president will propose specific help for the long-term unemployed. Roughly 6.2 million people fit that description, meaning they have been out of work for six months or more.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and many private economists have cited the rise in long-term unemployment as a particularly ominous result of the deep recession and the weak recovery. Their fear is that even as the economy recovers, those who have been out of work that long may never rejoin the workforce, relying instead on government help.

A White House official said Obama's jobs proposals would be fresh ones, not a rehash of plans he has pitched for many weeks. But he also will keep pushing those, including three pending trade deals, patent-law changes and an extension of a payroll tax cut for employers.

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