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Job searchers use computers in Tualatin, Ore., May 17, 2011. (AP)

House GOP Effort To Refocus On Jobs Draws Liberal Jibes

May 27, 2011

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Frank James

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Voters in just about every poll where the question is asked say their number one priority is jobs and the economy.

But House Republicans have gotten mired in a debate about their proposal to privatize Medicare.

Culture-war issues, like efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, have also drawn a lot of attention. Of course, time spent legislating on such matters doesn't exactly address the jobs issue.

Democrats, by the way, point this out every chance they get. For them it's a bit of payback because when they ran the House, they were accused of allowing healthcare overhaul legislation to distract them from the dispiriting job situation.

So in an effort to show they really are focused on jobs, House Republicans on Thursday had a press conference to show they're on top of the whole jobs problem and to make available a document as proof of their focus.

And if the document wasn't proof enough, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) had a message for any doubters:

"The truth is we've been talking about growth, jobs and recovering the economy since day one. In fact, in January 2009, when the President presented his stimulus plan, we said no to more government spending and yes to small business job growth. We've been talking about it ever since.

The plan immediately drew liberal ridicule. Ezra Klein at the Washington Post thought it was pretty thin gruel, a rehash of the GOP economic agenda. Klein shares an email reaction to the GOP document he got from an MIT scholar:

... There's nothing in this plan that hasn't been in a thousand other plans. When I asked David Autor, an economist at MIT and a specialist on labor markets, to take a look at the substance, he pronounced it a classic case of "what Larry Summers would call 'now-more-than-everism.'"

"Here's how it works," Autor wrote in am (sic) e-mail. "1. You have a set of policies that you favor at all times and under all circumstances, e.g., cut taxes, remove regulations, drill-baby-drill, etc. 2. You see a problem that needs fixing (e.g., the economy stinks). 3. You say, 'We need to enact my favored policies now more than ever.' I believe that every item in the GOP list that you sent derives from this three step procedure.

Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize laureate economist and New York Times opinion writer pokes fun at the thinness of the plan, too.

But the conservative retort is pretty much, hey, at least we have a plan. As a headline in the Weekly Standard's Daily Grind blog put it: "Where's the Democratic Jobs Plan?"

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