Obama Offers Plan To Break "Political Logjam"

By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)
By: CBS News (Posted by Melissa Brunner)

(CBS) President Obama on Tuesday laid out his latest offer to entice Republicans to agree to more government spending, expressing his exasperation with the GOP's focus on cutting federal budgets.

"I've come here to offer a framework that might help break through the political logjam in Washington," Mr. Obama said at an Amazon fulfillment center in Chattanooga, Tenn.

"Here's the bottom line," he said. "I'm willing to work with Republicans on reforming our corporate tax code, as long as we use the money from transitioning to a simpler tax system for a significant investment in creating middle-class jobs. That's the deal."

The deal already faces GOP objections.

Mr. Obama said he was putting forward a deal that "serious people" from both parties should support -- simplifying the corporate tax code while spurring job creation.

"I don't want to go through the same old arguments, where I propose an idea and Republicans say no just because it's my idea," he said. "I'm just going to keep throwing ideas out there to see if something takes."

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., has repeatedly said that corporate tax reform should not be done without individual tax reform, something the president isn't proposing. In addition, Republicans argue that reforming only the corporate tax code wouldn't benefit the many small business owners that file taxes as individuals.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday that Mr. Obama's latest deal is "just a further-left version of a widely panned plan he already put forward... this time with extra goodies for tax-and-spend liberals."

Mr. Obama on Tuesday argued that the steep "sequestration" spending cuts under way, slated to cut $1.2 trillion over a decade, are slowing down the economy. McConnell, by contrast said the cuts "may not be perfect, but at least we were able to secure important spending controls for the American people." He added that "Republicans are not going to just give up on commitments made to our constituents" with respect to spending cuts.

While Mr. Obama's economic speeches in past years typically called for responsible deficit reduction measures along with investments, the four speeches he's given in the past week have marked a clear shift towards more government spending. He's emphasized the fact that the deficit has been nearly cut in half since he took office.

"If Washington spent as much time and energy these past two years figuring out how to grow the economy and grow the middle class as it spent manufacturing crises in pursuit of a cut-at-all-costs approach to deficits, we'd be much better off," the president said.

Mr. Obama said his latest plan would close loopholes in the corporate tax code, end incentives to ship jobs overseas, create incentives to bring manufacturing jobs to America and lower rates for businesses that are creating U.S. jobs.

The president outlined ways to spur middle-class job growth, noting a number of ideas he's put forward before. He called for the expansion of a pilot program that has so far created 15 "manufacturing innovation institutes" that connect businesses, universities, and federal agencies to help communities foster high-tech manufacturing sectors. He also called for investments in infrastructure and renewable energy, along with increasing exports and establishing programs to help the long-term unemployed.

"We're not lacking for ideas," Mr. Obama said. "We're just lacking action, especially out of Washington."

While he commended a "growing number of Republican senators" willing to work with their Democratic colleagues, he blamed "a certain faction of Republicans in Congress" for hurting the economic recovery by creating political logjams over issues like raising the debt ceiling or the funding of the Affordable Care Act.

"Wasting the country's time by taking something like 40 meaningless votes to repeal Obamacare isn't a jobs plan," he said. "Let's get serious."

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