GOP Eyes New Jobs Message

Posted March 13, 2011 at 3:53pm

House Republican leaders are recasting their message on economic issues to highlight the effects of those policies on job creation, in hopes of recapturing the momentum that they fear they are losing.

GOP leaders have recently begun inserting the word “jobs” into talking points, floor statements and press conferences. They acknowledge that they haven’t done a good enough job framing the current debate over spending as an economic issue.

“We’ve always said it was about jobs and spending … [but] sometimes we’re not always the best at explaining” the connection, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) acknowledged Friday, adding that “that’s why we’re emphasizing it” more now.

Democrats have been hammering Republicans for weeks for choosing massive spending cuts over job creation. And they have told their Members to use every debate to talk about jobs and the economy.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor seems to be trying to set an example for the Republican Conference to make a messaging course correction. In a statement last week, the Virginia lawmaker crowed about how his caucus’s 1099 health care reporting bill was a win for jobs.

“Today, the House took another step to make it easier for our small businesses to grow and create jobs by repealing the onerous 1099 provision. This needless tax compliance mandate included in the ill-conceived ObamaCare law bogs down businesses in paperwork, creating yet another hoop for them to jump through, instead of allowing them to focus on growing their business and creating jobs,” Cantor said in a statement.

Speaking to reporters last week, Cantor maintained that the GOP’s plan to cut billions in the federal budget was critical to producing jobs. “We are here to try and cut spending and to live within our means, and we think that is an essential step toward creating an environment for job creation in the private sector,” he said.

The Majority Leader also argued that in addition to the continuing resolution to set spending levels going forward, other legislation like the upcoming budget resolution will be designed “to help keep our fiscal house in order and to help jobs grow in the private sector.”

Other issues, like the sudden gas price spike, are also being linked to job creation. Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) on Thursday argued that an upcoming Republican energy proposal “will work to help lower gas prices, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create new jobs. We made a pledge to the American people to tackle this problem — and we’re going to keep that pledge.”

And on Wednesday, Chief Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam (Ill.) will moderate a forum with the business community and GOP leaders that will focus specifically on job creation.

According to a release, the forum will “provide a meaningful discussion between Members of Congress and job creators representing businesses small and large as well as various regions and industries including the energy, technology, health and financial sectors.”

A GOP leadership aide explained that the Conference is looking to shore up its credibility on job creation. Republicans spent much of the 111th Congress criticizing Democrats for not doing enough to turn the economy around.

“Everybody’s concern is that in the midst of this spending fight we get caught up and forget to talk about jobs,” a GOP leadership aide said, adding that it has occasionally appeared that the Republicans are simply “cutting for the sake of cutting and not cutting to reduce barriers to job growth.”

Democrats, however, dismissed Republican efforts to hit the reset button on the jobs message.

“I am disappointed that Republicans have not brought any jobs bills to the floor so far. The American people expect us to come together and solve our most pressing problems, especially getting people back to work,” Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said.

“But so far, Republicans have not offered a concrete plan and instead have solely focused on making arbitrary spending cuts that will cost jobs and harm our economy,” the Maryland Democrat added.

Hoyer continues to push the Democrats’ “Make It In America” economic agenda, while Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has held two “hearings” on job creation.

Several Democratic leadership aides said the issue of jobs is atop the Caucus’ talking points; leaders have told Members to weave the issue into their floor speeches and press releases and to criticize Republicans for lacking a job-creation plan.

Members seems to be following that directive. For instance, prior to Friday’s vote on a bill to eliminate a controversial home loan program, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) slammed Republicans for ignoring jobs, saying the House has been in session for months “and not a single bill has come from our Republican colleagues on jobs.”