Editorials

Obama jobs plan a call to action

Before President Barack Obama could present his jobs plan to Congress Thursday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to trash the idea of more federal spending to create jobs.

Instead, Kentucky's senior senator proposed a long-range strategy of delaying and repealing regulations he says burden businesses, instead of "short-term fixes or shots-in-the-arm."

Really? Of all the ways the federal government spends taxpayer money, trying to find ways to put 14 million Americans immediately back to work is so wrong a priority?

The bipartisan supercommittee, set up during the contentious debt-ceiling debate, begins work on long-term economic fixes.

Meanwhile, it makes sense for the government to invest in some of Obama's reasonable proposals, such as putting people to work rebuilding roads and bridges, cutting payroll taxes, extending unemployment benefits, allowing people getting unemployment to temporarily work for a business to rebuild skills and résumés.

And with the president's plan to help pay for these efforts, its well worth the risk.

Congress should quickly vet these proposals and offer some of its own. But the goal should be to get people working, not refighting old policy battles.

House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor wrote Obama on Tuesday, saying they would look for ways to work cooperatively and expressed interest in infrastructure rebuilding.

During the summer break, they apparently received the message from voters to compromise on ways to improve the economy. That has been reinforced by polls showing a 12 percent approval rating for Congress and most of the blame placed on Republicans for the political dysfunction.

Facing with his own falling approval ratings, Obama made a passionate case for bipartisan support for his jobs plan, threatening to take it out into the country to build support for it, if necessary.

He finally seemed willing to fight not just for his ideas, but for the American people.

Maybe McConnell was just playing the GOP bad cop in the ongoing political gamesmanship with Obama.

But this is not a game for the millions of unemployed and underemployed, for state and local governments that have laid off workers, for businesses tired of political uncertainty or for other nations looking for global economic stability.

McConnell also criticized Obama for not developing his jobs plan in consultation with Republicans. Yet, the president tried negotiation several times during the debt-ceiling debate, to the detriment of the U.S. global image and the national debt rating.

And when Republicans decided to go their own way, they denounced him for not offering his own plan.

Not he has a plan worthy of debate. It "isn't a jobs plan. It's a re-election plan," said McConnell.

But Obama was on target when he told Congress that the frustrated American public cannot wait 14 months to the next election for solutions.

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