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Senate Republicans unveil competing jobs plan

October 13, 2011|By Kathleen Hennessey
(Brendan Hoffman / Getty…)

A large group of Senate Republicans unveiled a jobs bill Thursday, saying they were tired of hearing President Obama assert they had not put forward a plan to spur hiring and jump-start the economy.

The bill is something of a greatest hits of Republican economic proposals. It calls for tax reform that lowers tax rates, repeal of the new healthcare law, a balance budget amendment to the Constitution and expansion of offshore oil drilling.

Republicans said their bill would create jobs over time rather than aiming for immediate job growth through government spending.

“This is a pro-growth proposal to create the environment for jobs, and that’s as opposed to the short-term sweetener approach of the Obama administration that simply hasn’t worked,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who led the effort to write the legislation along with Sen. John McCain, (R-Ariz.) and freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Most of the initiatives have already been written into legislation, but Republicans said they needed to present a counter-message to the White House.

“We just thought it was time to put this all into a package. I will freely admit to you that part of it is in response to the president saying we don’t have a proposal,” McCain said. 

President Obama has been touring the country promoting his jobs bill and repeatedly calling on Congress to “pass the bill.” After slow-walking the vote, Senate Democrats brought up a version of the legislation this week. It was blocked by Republicans, resulting in headlines that seem to have accelerated the new strategy.

After months of putting the onus on Democrats to lead on jobs, Senate Republicans appear to have changed course.

“From the Republican point of view this is a breakthrough,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “We have to be for something.”

Paul said the bill would create 5 million jobs, though did not offer specifics. Economists estimate the president’s proposal would create 1.9 million.

McCain said “all but a handful” of Senate Republicans had signed on to the bill. Top Senate leaders were absent from a news conference unveiling the proposal. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) released a supportive statement.

“Sens. McCain, Paul and Portman’s Jobs Through Growth Act stands in stark contrast to the tired tax and spend plans put forward by this administration in that it will take the wet blanket of the federal government off the private sector and allow American entrepreneurs to expand and create jobs,” the statement read.

Others at the news conference tried to take a less partisan approach. Paul presented the proposal as the beginning of a negotiation. Graham too called the bill “an offer” and suggested the White House call a “jobs summit” to seek common ground on legislation.

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