Virginia Jobs and Taxes at the Center of Debate
With Congress in recess for the month President Obama is preparing to continue pressuring Republicans to work with him on job creation. Members of Virginia’s congressional delegation say that while his speeches rev up his base he still isn’t trying to work with the G-O-P.
The president is planning to use August to hammer the G-O-P on jobs. He wants to lower corporate tax rates while also expanding some tax breaks for smaller businesses. Then he wants to infuse that extra revenue directly into the economy…investing in construction projects and community college job training programs. The president is blaming Republican leaders for blocking his jobs proposals.
OBAMA1 “I’m just going to keep on throwing ideas out there to see if something takes. I’m going to lay out my ideas to give the middle class a better shot, but now it’s time for Republicans to lay out their ideas.”
When the president met with Democrats at the Capitol before Congress left town he was facing a few skeptics, including Virginia’s senior senator, Mark Warner. While the president’s new proposal seeks to reform corporate tax rates it leaves the contentious issue of individual tax rates off the table. Warner says the two ought to be dealt with together.
“It’s hard to do corporate tax reform independent of individual tax reform. At the end of the day if we’re going to jumpstart this economy we can’t lurch from budget crisis to budget crisis. We can’t have the stupidity of sequestration actually hurting our economy and costing the taxpayer more money than we’re saving.”
Warner says the president and congressional Republicans need to get back to the negotiating table to get the nation’s finances in order.
WARNER2 “Ultimately that’s going to require still a grand bargain where the Republicans give on allowing the government to raise some more revenues to help pay down the debt, and Democrats give on starting to reform the entitlement programs so Medicare and Medicaid can be here 20 years from now.”
Republicans are nearly universally rejecting the proposal. Virginia Congressman Scott Rigell says he isn’t really hearing anything new from the White House.
RIGELL1 “I don’t really see that he presented anything bold that is a game changer and I wish he would have. Just as a fellow American I wish he would have.”
Rigell and other Republicans argue more deficit spending on infrastructure won’t create jobs.
RIGELL2 “Look, I appreciate him putting something out there, but if you peel it back he is calling for more revenue not less, okay, that doesn’t surprise me. But indeed here he’s calling for more spending, not less.”
But Virginia Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly says Republicans are playing politics instead of addressing the country’s needs.
CONNOLLy1 “You have to differentiate, like companies do, like families do, between investments that have returns on them and ordinary spending. Investing in infrastructure has enormous payoff and has returns for decades and decades. Look at the interstate highway system. That’s a gift that still gives 60 years later.”
Virginia Republican Congressman Morgan Griffith says the president ought to meet the G-O-P halfway on their agenda.
GRIFFITh1 “I’ve said all along. The president wants a jobs plan? I know how to give him a jobs plan: roll back some of the unreasonable regulations.”
With Republicans opposing him at nearly every turn the president says he’s looking to take more decisive executive action to spur job growth. Republicans don’t like that, but Virginia Democrat Jim Moran says their complaints ring hollow.
MORAN1 “Well too bad if it ruffles their feathers. If you don’t want the president bypassing you then be an active agent for progress. These guys are a roadblock to any constructive progress.”
Throughout August the president will continue pounding the G-O-P over the economy while back at home Republicans will do the same. That means when lawmakers return to work in September a polarized Washington may reach a boiling point.