The Corner

GOP Leaders Tout Areas for Compromise on Jobs

In a letter to President Obama ahead of his major jobs speech before Congress on Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) have identified a number of potential opportunities for bipartisan compromise on job creation.

While we each sincerely believe that our own policy prescriptions for economic recovery are what is best for the country, neither of us is likely to convince the other in a manner that results in the full implementation of those policies. While it is important that we continue to debate and discuss our different approaches to job creation, it is also critical that our differences not preclude us from taking action in areas where there is common agreement.

Infrastructure spending: ”We are not opposed to initiatives to repair and improve infrastructure,” they write. In particular, Republicans favor reforms that would minimize waste and gives states greater control over which projects receive funding. They cite a current law that requires states to spend 10 percent of their surface transportation funds on “transportation enhancements” such as transportation museums and educational programs for pedestrians and cyclists. Eliminating this requirement, they argue, would give states greater flexibility to fund the type of projects Obama is advocating.

Unemployment assistanceReports indicate that the president may recommend job-training measures for the long-term unemployed modeled on the “Georgia Works” program. Boehner and Cantor point out that House Republicans recommended a similar policy during the stimulus negotiations in 2009, and “stand ready to work with you to implement common-sense reforms in this area.”

Free trade agreements: Despite President Obama’s misleading statements to the contrary, Congress is not “holding up” the passage of three long-stalled trade agreements with South Korea, Panama,, and Colombia, which by the administration’s own account would help create up to 250,000 jobs. In fact, the president has yet to present them to Congress for ratification. “The House is ready — and has been ready — to pass these free-trade agreements, in tandem with separate consideration of Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation, as soon as you send them to Congress,” they write. “Further delay of these bipartisan job-creating trade bills is, in our view, unacceptable.”

However, they argue that these areas of potential compromise “are not a substitute for a comprehensive pro-growth jobs agenda,” such as the one House Republicans have been pursuing, passing a number of bills that the Senate has failed to take up. Boehner and Cantor make clear that they won’t accept a rehash of the same failed policies:

We understand that many in your party want to build on the $800 billion stimulus bill that you proposed (and the Democratic Congress passed) as the best method for improving the economy. As you know, we argued at the time that a large, deficit-financed, government spending bill was not the best way to improve our economic situation or create sustainable growth in employment. Given the current unemployment and deficit numbers, we believe our concerns have been validated.

Achieving bipartisan agreement on job-creation measures will require “more than just one side declaring a proposal to be ‘bipartisan,’” as the president has repeatedly done in the run-up to his speech, no doubt in an effort to paint Congress as “unreasonable” for failing to go along with his agenda. It should be easy to discern from Obama’s speech this Thursday whether he is genuinely interested in bipartisan reform to spur job creation, or whether he is content to play partisan attack dog all the way through November 2012. I think we already know the answer.

Andrew Stiles — Andrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...

Most Popular


Stick a Fork in O’Rourke

If, as I wrote last week here, Joe Biden may save the Democratic party from a horrible debacle at the polls next year, Beto O’Rourke may be doing the whole process a good turn now. Biden, despite his efforts to masquerade as the vanguard of what is now called progressivism, is politically sane and, if ... Read More

In Defense of the Electoral College

Senator Elizabeth Warren has joined a growing chorus within the Democratic party in calling for the abolition of the Electoral College. Speaking at a forum in Mississippi on Monday night, Warren said that she hoped to ensure that “every vote matters” and proposed that “the way we can make that happen is ... Read More

Ivy-League Schools Wither

A  number of liberal bastions are daily being hammered — especially the elite university and Silicon Valley. A Yale and a Stanford, or Facebook and Google, assume — for the most part rightly — that each is so loudly progressive that the public, federal and state regulators, and politicians would of ... Read More
National Security & Defense

In Defense of the Iraq War

Today is the 16th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and Twitter is alive with condemnations of the conflict -- countered by precious few defenses. Yet I believed the Iraq War was just and proper in 2003, and I still believe that today. When Donald Trump condemned the war during the 2015 primary campaign and ... Read More