Some predicted it would put hundreds of thousands of people back to work next year, mainly because a Social Security tax cut for workers would be deepened and extended to small businesses.
"Payroll tax cuts are very powerful," said Allen Sinai, chief economist of Decision Economics. "They provide a boost to direct income and, in turn, spending, which is important to growth."
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, estimated that the president's plan would boost economic growth by 2 percentage points, add 2 million jobs and reduce unemployment by a full percentage point next year compared with existing law.
The heart of Obama's plan is an expansion of the Social Security tax cut, which took effect this year and is scheduled to expire by year's end. The tax cut now applies only to workers; it reduces their Social Security tax from 6.2% to 4.2%. Employers still pay the 6.2% rate.
Obama would renew the tax cut for a year and deepen it: He would drop workers' Social Security tax to 3.1%.