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Obama Pitches Jobs Bill, GOP Wants Less Red Tape

Susan Trigg | Getty Images

President Barack Obama and his House Republican adversaries feuded over how to best create jobs in the weakened U.S. economy Saturday, with Obama demanding Congress pass his $447 billion jobs bill and the GOP countering with a call for less government red tape.

Both efforts face little chance of success as all-or-nothing proposals in the divided legislature.

The Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, has yet to take up Obama's legislation.

The president has been mounting a steady public campaign on behalf of his bill, casting Congress — and Republicans in particular — as obstacles. With a populist flair, Obama has been barnstorming across the country to prod Congress, so far to no avail.

"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 weekly radio and Internet address Saturday.

In the Republican address, Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., 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, but the public's assessment of his handling of the economy has been significantly lower. Obama has been trying 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 — 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; there are 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 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 the radio address, Obama said: "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 referred to letters he receives from across the country, from a Georgia teenager to an unemployed Oregon couple, urging Congress to pass the legislation.

"If anyone watching feels the same way, don't be shy about letting your congressman know," he said. "It is time for the politics to end."

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