In a political speech reminiscent of his 2008 campaign, President Obama today proposed new incentives for businesses and assailed Republicans for impeding his efforts and for wanting to revert to "the same philosophy that led to this mess in the first place."
"On issues like this one, the only reason they're holding this up is politics, pure and simple. They're making the same calculation they made just before the inauguration: If I fail, they win," Obama said in a Cleveland speech to a standing ovation. "Well, they might think this will get them where they need to go in November, but it won't get our country where it needs to go in the long run."
Obama today pushed for incentives that would allow businesses to write off 100 percent of their spending on new plants and equipment through the end of 2011 and retroactive to Sept. 8.
The proposal, White House officials said, would benefit 1.5 million companies and would be "the largest temporary investment incentive in American history," resulting in tax cuts of $200 billion over two years. The president also urged the Senate to pass the small business jobs bill that has stalled because of partisan deadlock.
But even before the president took the stage to announce his proposals, the ongoing stalemate between Republicans and Democrats cast a shadow on the idea.
Both sides have called for bipartisanship but neither has extended a hand to the other. Obama today placed the blame solely on the previous administration for turning a budget surplus into a deficit and for implementing economic policies that help the rich.
Republicans blame the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress for sending the nation's debt skyrocketing and passing big bills such as health care and economic stimulus, but failing to bring down an unemployment rate that still hovers near 10 percent.
They've called on extending the Bush administration tax cuts that will expire at the end of the year, a significant point of contention between the two sides.
"Americans want jobs, not more government, more debt and more taxes," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement. "Let's start today with a declarative statement against tax hikes on the small businesses that are critical to expand and create jobs."
Others denounced Obama's speech today as a "PR stunt."
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who himself called to extend the research tax credit that Obama pushed for today, dubbed the plan as "job killing."
"I don't think anyone believes an administration that created these problems is going to be able to come up with effective solutions to get us out of them," Hatch said in a statement. "That's like putting Bernie Madoff in charge of fixing your company's broken accounting system."
The president wants to let the tax cuts expire for families earning more than $250,000 a year, a move the GOP argues will hamper the country's fragile economic recovery.
But the president today defended his decision as one that would benefit the middle class. In a fiery political speech that was as much about midterm elections as it was about incentives for businesses, Obama defended his record and placed the blame of "flawed policies and economic weaknesses" solely on the previous Republican administration.
He specifically called out House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, who spoke in the same city last month, eight times.