* Obama tells supporters to push lawmakers to pass bill
* No details yet on how jobs plan would be paid for
* Obama to send bill to Congress next week
(Adds Republican letter)
By Alister Bull
RICHMOND, Va., Sept 9 President Barack Obama
began an uphill battle on Friday for support for a $447 billion
jobs plan he hopes will rescue a faltering U.S. economy and his
own re-election prospects.
A day after unveiling his proposals for tax cuts and public
works spending on Capitol Hill, he pitched the plan directly to
Americans with a speech in Virginia, kicking off a months-long
campaign to promote it across the country.
"Everything in it will put more people back to work and
more money in the pockets of those who are working. Everything
in it will be paid for," he told nearly 9,000 supporters at
University of Richmond at an event dotted with "2012" signs.
"Next week, I will send it to Congress. They should pass it
right away," he said, calling on people to email, tweet, fax,
visit, Facebook and even "send a carrier pigeon" to make sure
their elected officials get the message they need to act.
"I want you tell your congressperson the time for gridlock
and games is over," Obama said.
In Detroit, the automotive capital of the United States
where Obama previewed his speech on Monday, there was marked
impatience among long-term unemployed workers.
"If he can make it happen, it needs to happen today," said
53-year-old internet technician Ed Render who was laid off from
Ford Motor Co (F.N) two years ago. "I get my last unemployment
check this week. I'm freaking out."
The national unemployment rate in July was 9.1 percent.
Detroit's rate during the same period was 24.4 percent.
The White House will send the jobs bill to Congress next
week but it may take months for lawmakers to work through it.
The Democratic president has promised the plan will be paid
for but not yet revealed how. This is a key issue for
Republicans intent on reducing the U.S. budget deficit.
A bitter fight between Republicans and Democrats over how
to cut that deficit brought the United States to the edge of
default in early August. It ended in a rushed agreement for
them to find $1.2 trillion or more in savings by Nov. 23.
Standard & Poor's downgraded the U.S. credit rating over
the gridlock. Credit rating agencies want the bipartisan "super
committee" tasked with finding those savings to also offset the
cost of the jobs bill.
Obama said he would outline proposals for what could amount
to $2 trillion in cuts over 10 years on Sept. 19.
Those are expected to include tweaks to the Medicare and
Medicaid health programs for the elderly and poor, as well as
to Social Security retirement benefits, plus some spending cuts
and tax changes for corporations and wealthy Americans.
Full coverage of Obama speech [ID:nOBAMAJOBS]
Key elements of $447 billion jobs plan [ID:nN1E7871QW]
SNAP ANALYSIS-"Right away" is way for Obama[ID:nN1E7872AA]
INSTANT VIEW-Obama plan to boost economy [ID:nN1E78723W]
Watch Obama's speech link.reuters.com/cep63s
The White House sees Obama's jobs plan -- a mix of payroll
tax cuts and spending to upgrade roads, bridges and schools --
as the best hope for reducing the unemployment rate that poses
the biggest threat to his re-election hopes.
Early estimates suggested it could lift U.S. growth by 1 to
3 percentage points in 2012, lower the unemployment rate by at
least half a percentage point and add well over 1 million jobs.
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, said it could
create 1.9 million jobs. [ID:nN1E78716J]
With his on-the-road messaging, Obama hopes to rally enough
support to pressure Republicans to get behind the plan so that
it can start to lower unemployment before voters make up their
mind about who to support in November 2012.
TAX CUTS YES, INFRASTRUCTURE NO
There were initial signs that Republican congressional
leaders may be ready to find some common ground on the plan,
despite their opposition to much of Obama's agenda over the
Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner
said Obama's ideas merit consideration. Eric Cantor, the
second-ranking Republican in the House, said the payroll tax
cuts were "something that will be a part of the discussions."
"I heard plenty in the president's speech last night where
there is a lot of room for commonality and we can get something
done quickly," Cantor told CNN on Friday.
But he warned it was misleading to say the jobs package
would be fully paid for. He said Republicans were unconvinced
about an infrastructure bank, another component of Obama's jobs
plan, but could accept other aspects, including tax cuts.
In a letter to Obama, Republicans urged him to spell out
his ideas in a detailed form when he sends them to Capitol Hill
so that their cost impact can be measured.
Democrats hope Republicans will be willing to accept the
public works programs and funds to hire teachers that round out
Obama's program, along with mortgage refinancing help.
Vice President Joe Biden said on Friday that once it is
passed, the jobs plan would filter money into the economy in
three to six months. That means it could make a dent by summer
2012 so long as it is passed this year.
Bleak jobs figures and other data have raised fears the
U.S. economy could slide into another recession.
While the economy's woes have sent Obama's popularity
tumbling to new lows, Republicans are well aware they could
suffer political fallout too if Obama succeeds in painting them
as obstructionists in the effort to fix the jobs problem.
Financial markets reacted coolly to Obama's plan, fretting
that it may not win enough Republican support. But worries
about the resignation of a European Central Bank executive
board member soon eclipsed that skepticism, causing U.S. stock
indexes to tumble more than 2 percent on Friday.
(Additional reporting by Laura MacInnis and Caren Bohan in
Washington and John D. Stoll and Bernie Woodall in Detroit;
editing by Ross Colvin and Mohammad Zargham)