Be afraid, be very afraid.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The economy weak and the public seething, President Barack Obama is expected to propose $300 billion in tax cuts and federal spending Thursday night to get Americans working again. Republicans offered Tuesday to compromise with him on jobs — but also assailed his plans in advance of his prime-time speech.

In effect, Obama will be hitting cleanup on a shortened holiday week, with Republican White House contender Mitt Romney releasing his jobs proposals on Tuesday and front-running Texas Gov. Rick Perry hoping to join his presidential rivals Wednesday evening on a nationally televised debate stage for the first time.

Lawmakers began returning to the Capitol to tackle legislation on jobs and federal deficits in an unforgiving political season spiced by the 2012 presidential campaign.

Adding to the mix: A bipartisan congressional committee is slated to hold its first public meeting on Thursday as it embarks on a quest for deficit cuts of $1.2 trillion or more over a decade. If there is no agreement, automatic spending cuts will take effect, a prospect that lawmakers in both parties have said they would like to avoid.

According to people familiar with the White House deliberations, two of the biggest measures in the president’s proposals for 2012 are expected to be a one-year extension of a payroll tax cut for workers and an extension of expiring jobless benefits. Together those two would total about $170 billion.

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