- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Before the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans promised an intense focus on creating and preserving American jobs. But spending and program cuts instead have dominated their agenda since taking control of the House in January — so much so that Democrats now accuse the GOP of reneging on a key campaign pledge.

In an effort to re-ignite their jobs mantra, House Republican held a “jobs forum” at the Capitol Wednesday. Panel guests included business owners and industry executives from across the country who complained that government roadblocks have stymied operations and kept them from hiring more employees.

GOP leaders in attendance, including Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, Chief Deputy Whip Peter J. Roskam and House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas, stressed the need to loosen business regulations, lower taxes and make it easier for U.S. companies to compete globally.

“The American people are still asking the question: ‘Where are the jobs?’” Mr. Boehner said. “It’s pretty clear that part of the reason they’re still asking that question is that government is in the way of job creators in America.

“Obviously, more regulations, higher taxes creates more uncertainty.”

The Ohio lawmaker went on to blame government regulators for the national job funk, saying “we have the most adversarial regulatory system in the United States than almost anywhere in the world.”

Mr. Boehner also pressed the Obama administration to wrap up work on a package of long-delayed, Bush-era international trade pacts.

“More trade will create more jobs here in America,” he said.

Mr. Cantor appeared on two cable news shows Wednesday to push the GOP jobs initiative. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” he said the forum “for the first time” would provide a venue “dedicated to members of Congress listening to job creators, rather than seeking to see how we can spend taxpayer dollars to create jobs.”

But Democrats say the Republican talk rings hollow because the GOP has failed to offer specific legislation this year designed to create jobs.

“I think it’s evident they didn’t have a [jobs] plan,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida Democrat, during a Wednesday news conference on Capitol Hill. “They spent a lot of time deceiving the American people, pulling the wool over their eyes, having a facade over each of their candidates’ campaigns that only talked about the importance of focusing on jobs.”

The lawmaker said House Republicans’ true legislative priority was repealing the 2010 health care reform law and slashing money for worthy programs.

“The dark side truly came out after the 112th Congress was sworn in,” she said. “The American people are starting to get a picture of what their true intentions were.”

Meanwhile in the Senate, the controlling Democrats have rallied around a jobs theme, as Majority Leader Harry Reid has pegged several noncontroversial bipartisan measures — including mundane reforms of patent laws and airline safety — as “jobs bills.” The strategy has helped the Nevada Democrat portray his caucus as being serious about lowering the national unemployment rate while avoiding a potentially damaging fight politically over spending and programs cuts.

Mr. Reid said the patent bill, which at first glance seemingly has little to do with jobs, will create up to 300,000 jobs “by promoting innovation and protecting small businesses.” And a bill that calls for updating the nation’s aging air-traffic-control system would help create and protect 280,000 jobs by “investing in airports across the country and improving our infrastructure,” Senate Democrats said.

Both bills easily passed the Senate.

But Republicans insist their proposed spending and tax cuts would boost the economy, making it easier for the private sector to grow and create jobs.

They also have defended their push to repeal the health care law, calling it one of government’s biggest inhibitors to job growth.

“When you look at our efforts as the new majority here in the Congress, our No. 1 goal is to create an environment — assist in creating an environment — where employers can begin to hire again,” Mr. Boehner said.

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