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Obama Urges Steps to Strengthen Economy

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This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

This week, President Obama proposed new measures to lift the economy. The central bank in its latest report said there was continued growth in the past several weeks, but with "widespread signs" of slowing.

Congressional elections are November second. One new survey showed that forty-nine percent of likely voters think Republicans should control Congress. Other polls find that about sixty percent of Americans think the country is going in the wrong direction.

President Obama gave a speech Wednesday near Cleveland, Ohio. He proposed a tax plan for businesses that make capital improvements, like buying new equipment.

BARACK OBAMA: "And I'm proposing that all American businesses should be allowed to write off all the investment they do in 2011. And this will help small businesses upgrade their plants and equipment, and will encourage large corporations to get off the sidelines and start putting their profits to work in places like Cleveland and Toledo and Dayton."

Mr. Obama also proposed to permanently extend a tax credit for research and development.

And on Monday he offered a plan for "rebuilding and modernizing" America’s roads, rails and runways. He said it would create jobs and improve transportation. The plan would cost fifty billion dollars, but he promised it would not add to the budget deficit over time.

The president spoke in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Both speeches were in the Midwest, an area hit hard by the recession.

He said almost every Republican in Congress is saying no to his ideas. But retiring Senator George Voinovich of Ohio tells the Washington Post that he plans to help push a bill through the Senate next week. That bill, supported by the president, contains measures to help small businesses.

Still, there is disagreement over the future of the tax cuts approved under President George W. Bush. These are set to end this December. President Obama wants to extend the tax cuts for families that earn less than two hundred fifty thousand dollars a year.

But John Boehner of Ohio, the Republican minority leader in the House of Representatives, told ABC News:

JOHN BOEHNER: "You can’t have a strong economy if you’re raising taxes on the very people you expect to invest in our economy to begin hiring people again."

Republicans oppose ending the tax cuts for higher earners. They say it would hurt small businesses. Democrats argue that few small businesses earn enough for their taxes to go up.

Congress passed a big stimulus bill shortly after the president took office last year. But there is little that his newest proposals could do to help the economy before November.

And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and iTunes at VOA Learning English. I’m Steve Ember.


Includes reporting by Mil Arcega and Michael Bowman