Liberals in the House on Tuesday slammed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for dismissing large portions of President Obama's jobs bill, charging that the GOP leader is opposed to the policies that would do the most to put people back to work.
"We can't allow the Republicans to pick parts they are comfortable with and leave out what they oppose," said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Rep. Lynne Woolsey, D-Calif., said Congress should pass "nothing less" than the $447 billion "American Jobs Act" that Mr. Obama sent to Congress yesterday. More than half of the bill consists of tax cuts for businsses and working Americans. It also includes aid for state and local governments to keep public workers like teachers on the payroll, as well as billions for infrastructure projects and other stimulative measures.
With the unemployment rate stuck at around 9 percent, Woolsey said the solution to the jobs crisis "must be big, and it must be bold."
"Half a loaf is not enough," she said. "We cannot cut this baby in half."
Yesterday, Cantor said that "anything that is akin to the stimulus bill I think is not going to be acceptable to the American people... We've been there, done that."
Reiterating his earlier calls for cooperation, Cantor said there are a "number of areas" in which Republicans and Democrats could come to agreement, including providing tax relief to small businesses, passing free trade bills, removing regulatory burdens and reforming unemployment benefits.
Cantor also repeated his assertion that Mr. Obama is taking an "all-or-nothing approach" to the legislation that is not constructive.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., said it was "no surprise" to her that "Republicans are willing to consider parts of bill that don't actually put people back to work."
"If you want to create jobs, create jobs -- more jobs for teachers police, firefighters," she continued, critiquing the conservative viewpoint that government can't create jobs but only make it easier for business owners to hire people. "Nevermind about rich people being job creators....businesses need more customers to begin hiring."
The Progressive Caucus unveiled its jobs bill today that focuses on domestic manufacturing, infrastructure investments, green jobs, educational investments and progressive tax reform. It's to the left of Mr. Obama's plan and is unlikely to go anywhere, but it's clear Mr. Obama and the Democrats are taking a strong stance on the issue of jobs in order to gain leverage in their negotiations with the GOP.
Mr. Obama has urged Congress to take up his whole bill, although White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters today that if Congress passes just portions of it, Mr. Obama will sign it and push lawmakers to do more.