•Refinancing more home loans: Obama said many borrowers have never missed a payment, and want to refinance at today’s low rates, but are unable to get approval. Through legislation, the idea is to expand “refi” opportunities that will leave more cash in consumer pockets each month, buoying the economy. Many economists like the idea, but it’s not clear if it can pass a divided Congress.
•Expanding global trade: Obama said he’ll launch talks on a trade agreement with the European Union, and take other steps aimed at boosting American exports. The Business Roundtable, a group of CEOs, praised the move toward an EU trade deal Wednesday.
•Boosting home-grown energy: Obama repeated his call for an “all-of-the-above” approach to expanding domestic energy production and reducing reliance on foreign oil. Economists say this effort has already been a successful job creator, although some say Obama’s focus is too tilted toward renewable and not enough toward oil and natural gas.
Energy experts say Obama set a realistic goal of doubling renewable electricity generation by 2020. (The president calls for a permanent tax credit to promote sources such as wind and solar.) The White House plan also calls for using some federal oil revenue to finance “shifting our cars and trucks off oil.”
•Another infrastructure push: With the Recovery Act stimulus spent, Obama called for $50 billion more in spending on things like roads and bridges – saying it will make the US a more attractive place for businesses while also creating construction jobs. Some economists say this “frontloading” of infrastructure work, at a time of jobs dearth, makes sense. But the idea also has critics who say it’s unnecessary and unlikely to do much for job growth.