Why Ohio? Behind Obama's choice of Cleveland for jobs speech
It's no accident President Obama is delivering a major speech on economic recovery in Ohio, a struggling state that makes or breaks presidencies.
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Six House seats are seriously in play in Ohio, along with strongly contested US Senate and governor’s races now rated as tossups or trending Republican. It’s not clear whether local Democrats will embrace or run from the president’s plan – and even less clear whether Democrats or Republicans will take it up when Congress comes back in session next week.Skip to next paragraph
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The dueling Cleveland speeches laid down markers for congressional debate for the last weeks of Congress.
Obama on Monday proposed $50 billion in new infrastructure investment to boost the economy. Today, White House officials say that he will propose to jump-start private investment and job creation by allowing companies to fully deduct qualified capital investments through the end of 2011. He is also proposing a permanent extension of the Research and Experimentation tax credit – a measure that has been popular on both sides of the aisle.
In Cleveland on Aug. 24, Mr. Boehner focused instead on easing uncertainty about taxes and new government regulation and called on the president to announce that he will not carry out plans to impose “job-killing tax hikes” on families and small businesses.
“The White House is missing the big picture. These aren't necessarily bad proposals, but they don't address the two big problems that are hurting our economy – excessive government spending, and the uncertainty that Washington Democrats' policies, especially their massive tax hike, are creating for small businesses," he said in a statement.
In anticipation of the president’s new proposal, Boehner proposed today that both parties work together in September to promote job creation by cutting non-security discretionary spending to FY 2008 levels and to freeze all current tax rates for two years – including the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts set to expire on Dec. 31.
Tuesday night, freshman Rep. John Boccieri (D) of Ohio, in a tightening reelection bid, showed up unexpectedly at a town hall meeting sponsored by his GOP challenger Jim Renacci in North Canton, at the edge of Ohio’s old industrial belt. The crowd peppered both men with questions on how they planned to revive the region’s grim economic prospects and, at the same time, rein in federal government deficits. Small businessmen complained that they could not get loans to save their businesses.
“I’m still studying the [president’s] package,” said Mr. Boccieri, who supported the first stimulus bill, as well as health care and cap-and-trade legislation unpopular in this district. But he adds that there is only so much that government can do help the economy. Interest rates are zero and tax rates the lowest that they have been since 1950, he says. “The last thing that the government has to goose the economy is to inject huge amounts of capital out there, investing in our workforce, investing in roads and bridges,” he says.
Mr. Renacci, a local businessman, said he’s fighting for less government, less taxes, more personal responsibility, and a strong military. “You don’t want to take money away from the people who create jobs in a recession,” he added.
“Ohio has a sizable number of working and middle class Americans who have been severely harmed by the recession, as well as long-term economic trends that have sent jobs overseas,” says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University. “If the kind of population we find in Ohio is not convinced that the administration is helping them, Obama can see this core part of the Democratic coalition move toward the GOP.”