Congress might still have a week left of its recess, but some Congressional leaders are already sharpening their knives over warring jobs messages that will be a primary focus of the fall work stretch.
Democrats immediately criticized the set of proposals unveiled Monday by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a memo to leaders, but the Virginia Republican did call for the kind of tax relief for small businesses that the White House has maintained will help boost job and economic growth. Although the White House and Congressional Democrats have long advocated for an extension of the payroll tax cut, Cantor’s memo called for a 20 percent tax deduction for small businesses.
Cantor also announced the House would begin voting on legislation to repeal various Obama administration policies the week of Sept. 12, beginning with a proposal relating to the National Labor Relations Board. In a familiar Republican set of talking points, Cantor said the series of floor votes would “help lift the cloud of uncertainty hanging over small and large employers alike, empowering them to hire more workers.”
“These regulations are reflective of the types of costly bureaucratic handcuffs that Washington has imposed upon business people who want to create jobs,” the Virginia Republican wrote.
Although Cantor said that major tax reform is an issue that will be left to the bipartisan, bicameral deficit reduction committee, which is set to convene next month, he said the House could take on smaller tax measures, including the small-business tax cut, to help provide immediate relief. Cantor also said the House would vote to end a yet-to-be-implemented rule requiring local, state and federal governments to withhold 3 percent of all government payments made to contractors in excess of $100 million.
House Democrats panned Cantor’s proposal, also employing familiar lines of rhetoric. Their release stated, “With a Thud, GOP Unveils ‘No Jobs’ Fall Agenda.”
Sen. Charles Schumer, the No. 3 Senate Democrat, said House Republicans are trying to “play catch-up on jobs.”
“But when they even stall common-sense measures like continuing the payroll tax cut for the middle class, it’s clear Republicans are still putting politics ahead of our economic recovery,” the New York lawmaker added.
Senate Democrats are expected to push hard for an extension of the 2 percent payroll tax cut, and possibly expand it to cover employers as well, once Congress returns from the recess. Republicans have resisted the idea to date.
The renewed focus on stimulus measures, whether it be Republican or Democratic tax cut proposals, comes amid a still-sluggish economy and could suggest that the deficit might take a back seat to jobs measures, at least in the months before the bipartisan deficit committee reaches a deal — or doesn’t.