By Sam Youngman – 12/09/09
President Barack Obama told House Republican leaders to “stop trying to frighten the American people” even as he and Democrats said they see a possibility for bipartisan cooperation on job creation legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters that Obama made the admonition during a bipartisan meeting at the White House on Wednesday, producing a chart to show Republicans that “things are a lot better.”
Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said there was broad agreement on their side of the aisle about how to create jobs by aiding small businesses and boosting infrastructure spending. Pelosi said she thinks on those issues, “it’s possible for us to find some common, bipartisan ground.”
But moments later, Republicans made it clear that they want to see a “spending freeze” and a “no-cost” jobs plan that consists largely of tax cuts.
“We can’t keep spending money we don’t have,” House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) pushed back on Obama’s request for an end to Republicans’ scare tactics by saying that Obama’s policies have led to a hiring freeze, and the GOP is simply telling constituents what is happening.
“[E]mployers are sitting there and they’re frozen because they don’t know what’s really going to happen here,” Boehner said. “And the president wants to blame us for informing the American people about what’s happening here and how it will affect them, but it’s not what we’re doing; it’s the policies that they’re promoting here in Washington.”
The Republicans presented a letter to Obama detailing how they think he should approach job creation, including by way of tax cuts and trade expansion.
For his part, Obama also expressed hope that Republicans would support him on his proposals, particularly on items like a one-year elimination of the capital gains tax that the GOP has supported in the past.
“It’s appropriate that I met with leaders of both parties,” Obama said after the meeting. “Spurring hiring and economic growth are not Democratic or Republican issues. They are American issues that affect every single one of our constituents.”
The president noted Republican opposition to his $787 billion stimulus package, but he said he hopes that he will get some GOP support for his attempts at job creation.
“It’s no secret that there’s been less than full bipartisan support for the recovery act and some of the steps that have broken the free-fall of our economy,” Obama said. “But my hope is that as we move forward we can do so together, recognizing that we have a shared responsibility to meet our economic challenges on behalf of all Americans: those who elected us to make sure that we’re doing the people’s business.”
Despite the GOP opposition, Democratic leaders seemed optimistic they can move quickly on a jobs bill that contains much of what the president outlined in a speech Tuesday.
Reid declined to say when a jobs bill might come up in the Senate, but he said after Tuesday night’s “breakthrough” on healthcare reform that he does think the Senate will pass a healthcare bill before lawmakers leave for Christmas.