Obama’s focus on job creation may require bipartisanship

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Obama’s focus on job creation may require bipartisanship

The Columbus Dispatch – WASHINGTON — President Obama will lay out a State of the Union agenda Wednesday focusing heavily on the economy and job creation.

Fresh from a trip Friday to northeastern Ohio, Obama will no doubt call on lawmakers to put aside partisan differences and work to approve health-care and jobs bills. The president might even single out as motivation Ohioans he encountered at the Lorain County town-hall meeting on the economy.

The White House yesterday continued to signal its intention to focus on economic initiatives aimed at aiding the middle class, with Obama unveiling proposals that include child-care tax credits, steps to make college loans more affordable and requirements on some employers to offer direct-deposit retirement accounts meant to encourage workers to boost their retirement savings.

But with rival Republicans in Congress emboldened by their party's stunning Senate win in Massachusetts and fellow Democrats fractured over how to proceed on major issues such as health care, climate change and immigration, will Obama's first true State of the Union speech lead only to more legislative gridlock on major issues?

…Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio said Democrats should continue to push for their agenda on health care and job creation. After all, he said, Democrats still have a large House majority and 59 votes in the Senate, even after Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts deprived Senate Democrats of a 60th vote, which they would need to break a GOP filibuster.

But Democrats need to focus on job creation, whether through tax policies or energy bills, Sherrod Brown said. On climate change, for instance, the controversial cap-and-trade proposal to reduce pollution by charging businesses that exceed emissions limits won't happen this year, but legislation that focuses on creating incentives for renewable-energy jobs will move forward, he said.

Immigration reform? Only if it involves job creation.

"Everything's about jobs," Sherrod Brown said.

He contends that Republicans have tried to block Democrats' proposals on health care and economic-stimulus spending in favor of the "GOP answer of more tax cuts for the rich. What they want to do failed for eight years. We are trying to do something different."

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