The White House and congressional Republicans just can’t agree on the best prescription for the economy, with President Barack Obama demanding passage of his $447 billion jobs bill and the GOP pushing to cut government red tape.
Both efforts, the focus of competing radio and Internet addresses Saturday, face little chance of success as all-or-nothing proposals in a divided Congress.
Three weeks after Obama submitted his legislation, the Democratic-controlled Senate has yet to consider it.
“It is time for Congress to get its act together and pass this jobs bill so I can sign it into law,” he said in his Saturday address.
The president has mounted a steady public campaign on behalf of his bill, trying to cast Congress and Republicans in particular as obstacles. With a populist flair, Obama has barnstormed across the country to prod Congress, so far to no avail.
The stops have come in contested election states such as Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado and Virginia, and the president has taken his message directly to the districts of leading Republicans.
On Tuesday, he will go to the Texas district represented by GOP Rep. Jeb Hensarling, co-chairman of a special deficit reduction committee in Congress.
In the Republican address, Rep. Morgan Griffith of Virginia made a pitch for legislation in the House that would reduce regulatory requirements on businesses. He cited rules affecting cement plants and restrictions on institutional boilers as examples of government overreaching.
“For years, excessive regulations have been a source of frustration for businesses trying to stay afloat,” he said.
“President Obama, who has said he’s willing to consider stopping excessive regulations, should call on the Democrat-led Senate to follow the House in passing these jobs bills,” he said.
Obama’s public approval ratings have held steady in the low 40 percent range, but the public’s assessment of his handling of the economy has been significantly lower. Obama has tried to deflect responsibility to congressional Republicans, who together with congressional Democrats fare much worse than the president.
Obama’s proposal would cut payroll taxes for workers and for businesses, lengthen jobless benefits, spend on public works projects and pay local and state governments to keep teachers, police and firefighters on the job. He has proposed paying for the legislation with targeted tax increases. They include limits on deductions taken by wealthier taxpayers, closing corporate loopholes and ending oil and gas subsidies.
Republicans have said some of his proposals, such as the payroll tax cuts, are worth considering. But they object to spending proposals and flatly reject raising taxes to pay for them. Even some Senate Democrats have balked at the taxes Obama would raise.
There are 51 Democrats in the Senate and two independents who typically vote with them and 47 Republicans. But it usually takes 60 votes to overcome procedural roadblocks and pass legislation.
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in the Senate and an Obama ally, told a radio interviewer this past week that there were not 60 votes in the Senate now for Obama’s bill. “We can work on it,” Durbin said. “We should.”
In his address, Obama said that “some Republicans in Congress have said that they agree with certain parts of this jobs bill. If so, it’s time for them to tell me what those proposals are.”
Obama said that if people who listened to or watched his remarks feel the same way, “don’t be shy about letting your congressman know. It is time for the politics to end.”