Where Are the Jobs? Parties Point Fingers

House Democrats Set to Unveil "Make it in America" Jobs Agenda Today

May 4, 2011 -- It may be Washington's best-kept secret: House Democrats are counting off the 119 days that they argue have passed without the GOP bringing any jobs bills to the floor since Republicans have had the speaker's gavel.

Nearly every day, House Democratic leadership, rank and file members on the floor, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (the party's fundraising arm for the House) have all repeatedly pounded at House Speaker Boehner and the GOP for neglecting job creation and focusing on issues like cutting spending and repealing the health care reform law instead .

"Where are the jobs," the Republicans' winning message that propelled House Speaker John Boehner and his colleagues into the majority last fall, is now becoming a near echo shouted by House Democrats like Rep. Barbara Lee on the House floor.

"The American people want to know, where are the jobs?" Lee, D-Calif., asked on the House floor Tuesday. "After 17 weeks of controlling the House, the Republicans have no plan to create jobs and no plans to spur economic growth. Instead, they proposed a budget that puts our country on a road to ruin."

A Democratic website catches the theme and screams "Speaker Boehner: When are the jobs?" and includes a ticker counting the time that House Republicans have held the majority.

Today, House Democrats will take another stab at pushing their "Make it in America" manufacturing jobs agenda through the House.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 ranking House Democrat, told ABC News that Republicans have taken their eye off the ball when it comes to the economy.

"Frankly over the last four months in Congress, we have not been focused on job creation. We believe this agenda focuses like a laser on job creation," Hoyer, D-Md., said. "Our agenda is focused on expanding and facilitating making things in America, expanding our manufacturing base. Giving small, medium- and large-sized businesses an environment in which they can invest and compete successfully in making things here and being able to compete with foreign competitors who are making things in other parts of the world."

While Osama bin Laden is the talk of the universe right now, the economy is likely to remain the No. 1 issue for voters in November 2012. An ABC News poll showed President Obama's approval rating up 9 points after the president's announcement Sunday night, but the nation's approval of the president's handling of the economy was unchanged.

"One of the things that Americans are reflecting is a lack of confidence in the economy, a lack of confidence on the track we're on, a lack of confidence, frankly, in the future of America, and when you ask them in polls, 'what are some of the things we need to do,' one of the very strong responses you get, with which I agree, is that look, we have to continue to be a manufacturing giant in the world," Hoyer said.

Hoyer said House Democrats would bring bills to the floor similar to jobs legislation promoted by the Pelosi House before the GOP electoral wave; bills that did not make it to the president's desk for signature when Democrats held control of both chambers of Congress.

Hoyer said that a bill similar to the Chinese currency manipulation measure passed by a bipartisan majority in the last Congress would be reintroduced by House Democrats. The Maryland lawmaker also indicated that a bill to ensure that all government American flags are made in America would also be among those introduced when House Democrats hold a news conference later Wednesday.

A senior Democratic leadership aide also said that measures to make the Research and Development tax credit permanent and legislation calling for a national manufacturing strategy would also be among the bills unveiled soon.

"The president, as you recall in his State of the Union address, indicated that we need to address tax policy in order to accomplish the objective of making it profitable to make it in America and to be competitive globally," Hoyer said. "We need to have a strategy to do so. We need to look at unfair practices of other countries, like China's manipulation of its currency, to keep its currency cheap and goods being bought by Chinese made in America more expensive."

But Republicans have steadily maintained they are running a "cut and grow" Congress. Cut now, hope to bank on positive job growth later. House Republicans have also used their former election battle cry "where are the jobs" to hit Senate Democrats and President Obama when both powers come to a divide.

"We have constantly brought bills focused on creating jobs to the floor. Repealing the job-killing healthcare law, cutting spending to end some of the uncertainty that is freezing job-creators, increasing the supply of American energy to create jobs," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said. "We support effective policies to create jobs, cut spending, and increase the supply of American energy to lower gas prices ? thus far, we haven't seen any of that from Leader Pelosi's team."

Hoyer said he is optimistic Democrats will get some Republican support for the agenda, and says he hopes to work with top Republicans on committees and in leadership to build a bipartisan majority.

"This is an agenda that is not ideological," Hoyer said. "We can unify Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, all sections of the country on an agenda to facilitate making it, manufacturing it in America."

House Republicans this week are set to consider the first of three bills emerging from the House Natural Resources committee aimed at freeing up domestic energy exploration and production. Hoyer would not commit to supporting those measures, but admitted "energy is a very important component" to getting the economy back on track.

"Investment in infrastructure, investment in education, very important components of a make it in America agenda," Hoyer said. "Clearly one component of that is to assuring that America has the kind of energy that it needs to continue to power our economy in the years ahead and to have a cost-effective energy sector that is energy that Americans can afford and businesses can afford and don't drive up the prices of our products."

"I think you're going to find Democrats very focused on energy independence," he added.