On creating jobs, Obama and Republicans talk past each other

In their Saturday radio addresses, President Obama and Republican Rep. Morgan Griffith had different takes on job creation. For the GOP, it's easing government regulation, for Obama his "American Jobs Act."

Ted S. Warren/AP
In this Sept. 14 photo, Nichole Smith, left, Lorenzo Ortiz, center, and Annelie Ingvarsson, right, wait in line to talk to potential employers during a National Career Fairs job fair, in Bellevue, Wash.

In their weekly radio addressees Saturday, President Obama and the designated Republican speaker talked past each other on job creation.

For Obama, it was all about pressuring the GOP-led Congress to “get its act together” and pass his American Jobs Act. Meanwhile, Rep. Morgan Griffith, (R) of Virginia said Obama should back House Republican plans "aimed at cutting red tape and stopping the excessive regulations that hamper job creation."

As usual, both used very concrete examples to back their assertions. For Griffith, it was literally concrete.

The Monitor's Weekly News Quiz for Sept. 25-30, 2011

"The government recently finalized rules that would impose costly burdens on the producers of cement, which is the backbone of just about every construction project,” he said. “If these rules were to take effect, roughly 20 percent of the country's cement plants would shut down. Thousands of jobs would be sent overseas permanently, just like that.”

Sticking with the very tangible, Griffith said, "Washington is also trying to hand down rules that would affect boilers used by thousands of major employers, including hospitals, factories, and even colleges.”

“These regulations would impose billions of dollars in new costs, make many goods and services more expensive, and put more than 200,000 jobs at risk,” he said. "Understand that the investments required by these rules are irreversible. For those businesses that cannot make these investments, and decide to stop producing their product at a particular location, the job losses are also irreversible.”

Obama’s American Jobs Act doesn’t deal specifically with cement or boilers. But among other things, it would invest in roads, schools, and other construction projects as well as cut payroll taxes for the workers and their employers who build such projects.

It also includes $35 billion designed to prevent layoffs at schools, police stations, and fire departments, a tax credit of up to $4,000 for hiring the long-term unemployed, and a "returning heroes" tax credit of up to $5,600 to businesses hiring veterans who have been unemployed six months or longer.

As he often does, Obama told individual Americans’ stories to illustrate his call for public pressure on Congress to pass his proposal.

Sixteen year-old Destiny Wheeler from Georgia who wants to go to college, but who worries that that might not be possible “especially since the economy is rough and my starting situation is so poor.”

Alice Johnson in Oregon who, along with her husband, has been looking for a job for about two years and has “faithfully applied for work every week.”

Cathleen Dixon, who sent pictures of the aging bridge she drives under when she takes her kids to school in Chicago every day.

Kim Faber, whose husband owns a small carpet business in New Jersey. “We hang on by a shoe string,” she wrote. “It breaks my husband’s heart when he has to let people go!”

(Just a thought: Is there a political reason why all the letters Obama chose are from women? Perhaps a little tap on the wedge into a gender gap?)

Rep. Griffith had his own story to tell – of “a Dallas-based chemical company [which] may significantly scale back or close a plant that employs hundreds of people in my district” because of the regulations on boilers.

He quoted Todd Elliott of the Celanese Corporation, who told lawmakers at a recent hearing, “If our costs become too high, we lose competitiveness and jobs.”

While Obama pushes Republicans to accept his jobs bill, Griffith urges Democrats and the President to back GOP bills aimed at reducing government regulations.

The chances that both these two things will happen without further wrangling, delay, and even possible gridlock: approximately zero.

The Monitor's Weekly News Quiz for Sept. 25-30, 2011

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