Moving fast to avoid being out-flanked by the campaigning President Obama, Republicans are developing a new jobs plan that recasts their hot-button agenda issues as sure-fire ways to crush unemployment, the most frightening worry among independents.
New Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, a former Bush-era budget chief who's in the mix of those considered top-shelf 2012 running mates, has been given the task to draw up the plan because of his success in selling Ohio voters on his jobs agenda during the 2010 elections.
His first draft, now being studied and refined by other Republicans, casts the GOP agenda as a long-term fix to the withering unemployment the nation has suffered through in recent years. His draft, "Senate Republican Jobs Plan—An Outline For Creating American Jobs and Prosperity," calls for a balanced budget, energy drilling on federal lands, an end to the president's healthcare reform, sweeping reductions in regulations, and new tax changes.
"Addressing the out of control debt and deficit is the first and most important thing we can do for our economy, but we also need pro-jobs legislation that will spur economic growth and create the environment we need to get Americans back to work," Portman told Whispers.
A recent Gallup poll found that Republicans, Democrats, and independents put employment at the top of issues they feel are most important. And, according to Gallup, independents are most concerned about jobs. In a recent poll footnote, Gallup said: "Jobs/unemployment is the top issue among all groups. Among GOP, budget deficit a bigger concern—but still only at 16 percent. Among Democrats, health a bigger concern—but still only at 24 percent. Among Independents, jobs and economy at 59 percent."
The president has started to talk more about jobs, especially trying to hit the GOP fiscal year 2012 budget as a jobs killer. Several liberal pundits have picked up the cry, saying that the GOP has failed to deliver on promises to create jobs.
As a result, the GOP has turned to Portman to counter that attack. His draft plan includes seven key points:
1: "Begin living within our means." This section calls for balancing the budget, putting a statutory cap on spending, and slashing deficits.
2: "Reform tax code to spur economic growth." The GOP would reduce taxes on capital gains and dividends, make the research and development tax credit permanent, and reduce business and individual tax rates.
3: "Unburden economy from Washington regulations." Portman's plan calls for a new cost benefit analysis prior to the imposition of new regulations and would prohibit the EPA from regulating greenhouse gasses.
4: "Create competitive workforce." The plan would kill card-check and reform federal retraining programs.
5: "Increase exports to create more jobs." Here, the GOP calls for passage of languishing trade pacts.
6: "Power America's economy." A huge jobs creator, the plan would be to allow for energy drilling on federal lands, on the outer continental shelf, and also boost loans for nuclear power.
7: "Adopt common sense healthcare solutions." Besides the oft-heard GOP call to reverse the administration's healthcare reform, the Republicans would let Americans go across state lines for healthcare and small businesses would get new ways to pool their insurance.
Aides say that Portman's jobs plan will likely be presented to the nation next month.
"This is a pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda," said a GOP aide. "We need to keep talking about it and proving our agenda will provide those jobs."