Wielding a lengthy “to-do list” of economic proposals, President Obama is bringing the bipartisan congressional leadership to the White House on Wednesday to urge them to act on his proposals or risk being portrayed as a do-nothing Congress heading into November.
The meeting comes amid new concern over the stalled growth in Europe and its impact on the U.S. economy and the president’s re-election. The meeting will take place after the president visits a small business in Washington, D.C., to highlight a proposal to provide a 10 percent tax cut to companies that hire new workers or increase wages, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.
Europe’s problems underscore the need to “take every action that is fully within our control to assist the economic recovery that we’ve been experiencing, to further insulate ourselves from the kinds of things that could happen globally that could affect our economic growth,” Mr. Carney said.
Those invited to the White House include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican; GOP House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio; and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.
Mr. Obama plans to push a 23-item to-do list for Congress, which includes eliminating tax incentives for businesses that ship jobs overseas; making it easier for homeowners to refinance; investing more taxpayer dollars in clean-energy initiatives; and creating a “jobs corps” to help veterans find employment.
The meeting comes in the wake of a disappointing April jobs report and other signs the economic rebound of the winter months may be slowing.
The election-year meeting is only the second this year. The president has had infrequent meetings with congressional leaders since last summer, when a combative string of sessions eventually led to a last-minute deal on raising the federal debt ceiling.
The president and House Republicans again appear headed on collision course. All told, the proposals on the president’s to-do list could cost up to $34.7 billion, part of a $447 billion jobs package that Republicans in Congress mostly have resisted, while demanding offsetting cuts for any new spending.
Mr. Boehner said Tuesday he was prepared to engage in another battle over raising the debt ceiling this year if the increase isn’t offset by the same amount of spending cuts.
Mr. Carney said such a move would be a suicide mission on the part of Republicans, given the last battle helped push down the nation’s AAA credit rating.
“The idea that we might want to go down that road again suggests to me that maybe somebody wants to test the proposition that you can’t get to zero in your approval rating,” he said. “I mean, Congress tried last year; it got to single digits.”
House Republicans have criticized Mr. Obama for sending repackaged ideas to Congress with little hope of passage. Mr. Boehner also has pointed to nearly 30 jobs bills the House GOP caucus has passed but the Senate has blocked.
The president got off to a good start in passing a few of his jobs initiatives early this year, including a 20 percent tax deduction for small businesses and an extension of the payroll tax cut.
But in recent weeks, his agenda has ground to a halt in Congress, where even the Democrat-controlled Senate failed to pass his budget or to act on his proposal to prevent a sharp increase in subsidized student loan rates this summer.