Under fire from Big Labor, millions of unemployed Americans and Democrats worried about the 2012 election to deliver a bold new jobs plan, President Obama is instead poised to roll out a retread program with some new tweaks.
"Some of these aren't new ideas," Labor Secretary Hilda Solis conceded today.
The strategy appears to be proposing programs that have bipartisan appeal and that might have a chance of passing the GOP-controlled House rather than an innovative plan that will spark a political tug-of-war that could drag on into the 2012 elections. [Read Rick Newman: 7 Ways Obama Can Gain Credibility on Jobs]
Republicans want a greater focus on business tax cuts, but leadership aides said today that they are eager to find common ground on some programs with the president.
"I don't want to upstage anything he's going to do except to tell you which you already know," said Solis. "We are in need of extending some good programs that I think have worked, a payroll tax cut, very important, had the bipartisan support, and an also infrastructure bank...that's a no brainer," she added, citing previously proposed ideas. She also rolled out an old idea to provide businesses with tax cuts or credits if they hire more workers.
The presidents of the AFL-CIO and Teamsters, however, have sharply criticized simple, "nibbly things" to solve the jobs crisis previously proposed by the president. [Read: Teamsters Joins AFL-CIO to Blast Obama.]
Both AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Teamsters boss James Hoffa said the president has been wimpy when faced with GOP opposition and both want more stimulus spending, which the president appears unwilling to propose.
Solis, defended her boss, stating flatly that the president has "absolutely not" been proposing "nibbly" fixes to the economy and employment crisis. One example that she noted was that his auto bailout has resulted in a healthy car industry.
However, she stated that it's the view of the administration that government is only to help employers and partner with business, not rebuild the employment base. "The federal government does not create jobs, we help incentivize, we make I think a concerted effort to coordinate our dollars."
She also brushed aside questions about Obama raising the minimum wage. "I support the federal minimum wage as it is," she said.