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Obama vs. GOP on Jobs: Blame Game Begins

Brad Knickerbocker|Christian Science Monitor

The partisan debate over jobs creation has descended into a blame game between President Obama and congressional Republicans.

President Barack Obama
Photo by: Pete Souza

“Over and over, they have refused to even debate the same kind of jobs proposals that Republicans have supported in the past – proposals that today are supported, not just by Democrats, but by Independents and Republicans all across America,” Obama complained in his radio address Saturday morning. “Meanwhile, they're only scheduled to work three more weeks between now and the end of the year.

Republicans in the House respond that they’ve passed 15 job-creating bills only to have those measures bottled up in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

“We call these bills the 'forgotten 15',” Rep. Bobby Schilling of Illinois said in the Republican address Saturday.

“These are common-sense bills that address those excessive federal regulations that are hurting small business job creation,” said Rep. Schilling, a freshman lawmaker whose family owns a pizza business in Moline. “A number of them have bipartisan support. Yet the Senate won't give these bills a vote, and the president hasn't called for action.”

The essence of the divide remains: Increase federal investment to stimulate job creation versus easing environmental and other regulatory restrictions that critics say can hinder job creation.

As with much of the debate in Washington these days – including the effort by the bipartisan congressional “super committee” to cut the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion before draconian budget cuts kick in automatically – this one can’t avoid the subject of taxes.

A new report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office gives Obama ammunition for his assertion that “millionaires and billionaires” can afford to pay more.

The CBO reported this week that while the rich got a lot richer over the past 30 years, the rest of American society struggled to keep up.

The CBO found that average after-tax income for the top 1 percent of US households had increased by 275 percent while middle-income households saw just a 40 percent rise and for those at the bottom of the economic scale, the jump was 18 percent.

"The distribution of after-tax income in the United States was substantially more unequal in 2007 than in 1979," CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf said in a blog post. " Income … for households at the higher end of the income scale rose much more rapidly than income for households in the middle and at the lower end of the income scale.”

Obama says he’s doing what he can through executive order because GOP lawmakers refuse to consider his proposals.

On Friday, Obama directed government agencies to shorten the time it takes for federal research to turn into commercial products in the marketplace. The goal is to help startup companies and small businesses create jobs and expand their operations more quickly.

The president also called for creating a centralized online site for companies to easily find information about federal services. He previously had announced help for people who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth and for the repayment of student loans. The White House also challenged community health centers to hire veterans.

"We can no longer wait for Congress to do its job," Obama said Saturday. "So where Congress won’t act, I will."

—Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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