Congress Mulls President’s To-Do List

May 11, 2012 3:59pm

This week, President Obama made his to-do list and handed out his assignments for Congress:

  • Reward American jobs, not outsourcing
  • Refinancing for responsible home owners
  • Tax credits for small business jobs
  • Clean energy manufacturing
  • Veterans’ jobs corps

But are any of the latest items destined to reach the Oval Office for the president’s signature? Unlikely.

Naturally, the biggest roadblock to the president’s agenda is the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, which has its own ideas to improve the economy but which Democrats have labeled as obstructionist.

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.

“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 said. “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.

“My goodness,” Boehner scoffed with incredulity, summing up the House Republicans’ lack of enthusiasm for the president’s to-do list.

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.”

Top Democrats, on the other hand, are excited to support the president’s suggestions, which are based 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.

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 a committee mark-up of the bill and 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. 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 Reid, D-Nev., the Senate majority leader.  “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.

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.”

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller contributed to this report.

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