House Republicans responded Wednesday to President Obama’s accusation that they’ve been wasting valuable time on non-job creating measures.
During a speech in Washington this morning intended to highlight a section of his American Jobs Act that would fund $60 billion worth of transportation and infrastructure projects, Obama questioned House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) decision to schedule votes this past week on a Major League Baseball commemorative coin bill and a resolution reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the national motto.
“John, what have you been debating?” he asked. “You’ve been debating a commemorative coin for baseball? You had legislation reaffirming that “In God We Trust” is our motto?” That’s not putting us back to work…I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said this morning, however, that his party has acted on jobs measures and challenged Senate Democrats to follow suit.
“Republicans in the House are interested in trying to set aside differences and look for ways that we can actually work with the President and the other side to accomplish results for the American people…when people around the country are looking for jobs and asking where the jobs are, they are stuck in the Senate, that’s where the jobs are.”
A spokesman for Cantor added that Republicans have, in fact, passed 18 bills this year aimed at creating U.S. jobs.
“The Republican led House has passed 18 bipartisan jobs bills over to the Democrat-controlled Senate, yet Majority Leader Reid has refused to hold a vote on any one of these jobs measures…So today, when President Obama claimed that, “I’m waiting for THEM to ACT,” we have to assume he’s speaking about Leader Reid and Senate Democrats?”
In addition, a spokesman for Boehner tweeted that Obama has spent time himself signing proclamations for National Forest Products Week, National Grandparents Day, National Character Counts Week and Save Your Vision Week.
While Obama has toured the country over the last two months promoting his bill, which has stalled twice in the Senate, House Republicans have been screaming at him to pass any one of the numerous items they believe will help reduce the country’s 9.1 percent jobless rate. The majority of their bills involve decreasing federal regulation of various industries, which the GOP has argued would free up the private sector to boost payrolls. Other items include boosting oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, prioritizing hiring for Veterans, and reducing taxes.
A bill the lower chamber passed to repeal a requirement that the federal government withhold three percent of payments to contractors is just about the only area of common ground shared by congressional Republicans and the White House. Yet it has languished on Capitol Hill due to objections by Senate Democrats over how the loss of revenue would be offset.
When pressed today on why Obama has not pressured the Senate to pass the GOP bills, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that it’s because none of the measures would have an immediate effect on the economy.
“It won’t have a positive impact…in the next couple years,” he told reporters. “I don’t think the American people can wait.”
The White House argues that several aspects of the American Jobs Act — such as the transportation and infrastructure proposal — would begin to take shape as early as 2013. The administration has pointed to studies conducted by Moody’s Analytics and the Economic Policy Institute as proof that the bill would generate anywhere between two and four million jobs.
However, the Washington Post’s fact-checker pointed out this morning that a number of economists disagree with those figures.
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