Jabbing Congress for its inaction, President Obama outlined an election-year “To-Do List” for the lawmakers. The President urged Congress to act on his proposals to boost the economy and spur job growth. “I know this is an election year, but it’s not an excuse for inaction. Six months is plenty of time for Democrats and Republicans to get together and do the right thing, taking steps that will spur additional job creation right now.”
On Friday, May 11th 2012, President Obama handed out his "To-Do List" assignments for Congress:
1. Reward American job creation, rather than rewarding outsourcing.
2. Provide refinancing for responsible home owners.
3. Issue tax credits for small business jobs.
4. Encourage and support clean energy manufacturing.
5. Create a Veterans’ Jobs Corps.Each of the items on the President’s To Do List will benefit the country but are any of them destined to reach the Oval Office for the president’s signature? Unfortunately the answer is, “unlikely”.
Naturally, the biggest roadblock to the president’s agenda is the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, which has its own ideas about “how to improve the economy”. Many observers see the stonewalling record of the House as pure obstructionism without one iota of any desire to improve the economy or create jobs.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters this week that “the House is doing its work” by passing other jobs legislation and he decried the president’s “Post-It note” stunt as making the office of the presidency seem small and weak. It is notable that the Speaker has no argument and so he resorts to a petty and unsustainable personal attack.
“The House is governing, and what do we get from the other side? Showboats in the Senate, [and] more gimmicks and posturing by the president,” Boehner continued. “I can’t think of a better symbol of how small this presidency has become than looking at the Post-it note that the president’s been carrying around. We got the most powerful office in the world there to tackle big problems and he’s shrunken it to the size of a Post-it note.
Across the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took to the Senate floor to blast the to-do list as a campaign-style gimmick, complaining that “the president is trying to manufacture arguments that he can run on. Instead of focusing on his political Post-it note checklist, the president and Senate Democrats should show some leadership and work with Republicans to move on critical pro-growth bills,” McConnell said. “The president’s Post-it note checklist is insufficient to handle the challenges we face as a nation and, frankly, it’s counterproductive.” McConnell joined his House counterpart to issue an empty talking point statement with no hint of a better plan than the President has.
Every Republican legislator seemed very cranky, except for Eric Cantor who offered “We welcome the to-do list and the president’s desire to help small businesses. We have been saying for some time now, please, Mr. President, let’s set aside the differences and find where we can work together to help small-business growth. That’s what’ll help the economy.”
Top Democrats, on the other hand, are excited to support the president’s suggestions, which are baased on various pieces of legislation introduced by Democrats. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., have already introduced legislation in the House and Senate known as the “Bring Jobs Home Act” that would end tax breaks for businesses that send jobs overseas while providing a 20 percent tax credit to U.S. companies that return jobs back to America. This Act is so blatantly beneficial that anyone who opposes it will have to answer to both their constituents and to history.
Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio offered an amendment to the GOP’s FY 2013 Budget Resolution to establish a Veterans Job Corps that she said would employ at least 20,000 veterans over five years in projects to preserve and restore America’s national parks, state parks and other public lands. Her amendment failed to win support during the Republican controlled committee’s mark-up of the bill. Comparable measures have been introduced in the Senate.
Democrats have also introduced multiple bills, like the American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act of 2011 and the SEAM Act of 2011, to address clean energy manufacturing and extend the advanced energy manufacturing tax credit.
Democratic Rep. Dennis Cardoza of California has introduced the Housing Opportunity and Mortgage Equity Act of 2011, a bill that aims to enable responsible homeowners to refinance their mortgages. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., has introduced similar legislation in the upper chamber.
House Democratic Caucus chairman John Larson introduced the president’s signature jobs package, the American Jobs Act, which includes a provision to invest in a new hire tax credit for small businesses, but that bill has not been voted on and is buried in committee..
In the Senate, Democratic Sens. Harry Reid, Bob Casey and Mary Landrieu introduced a stand-alone bill on the subject, which the majority leader indicated he wants to bring to the floor for a vote before the Memorial Day recess.
“The president gave us five things that are extremely important to do,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-Nev). “Now, have we done enough administratively and legislatively? Of course not! And no state feels it more than Nevada. But every state in the union needs this help.”
But none of those bills are likely to see the light of day in the House of Representatives any time soon. Republican congressional aides point to similarities from the president’s list and other measures that have already been signed into law, passed out of the House or are under current consideration.
“The [Veteran Opportunity to Work Act] was a veterans jobs measure; we passed the Small Business Tax Cut Act; our payroll bill included the full expensing provision that [President Obama] discusses; and we are working on a variety of energy issues,” one top GOP leadership aide said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, R-Calif., said the president’s maneuver “shines a bright light on the failure of the House Republicans to address middle-class economic security” as Republicans risk the optics of handing the president a legislative victory. “It’s time for Republicans to abandon their agenda of obstruction and work together with Democrats to act on the president’s proposals to create jobs, strengthen the middle class and grow the economy,” she said. “Americans can’t wait.”
So the President’s To-Do list is already activated and lingering in both houses of Congress. All that is needed is lawmakers of good will from both sides of the aisle to sit down and do right by the citizens of our country. Unfortunately for the country at this time, the President can only propose legislation the congress has to enact it. Will the 2012 Congress get its act together on these 5 items? - “unlikely”. If that's true we'll have to look forward to the 2013th.