GOP spurns Obama's 'new deal'
WASHINGTON — President Obama hadn't left the White House on Tuesday to debut his latest economic pitch when Republicans began tearing it apart.
With a “grand bargain” on taxes and spending long stalled, Obama offered what the White House called a new deal: cutting corporate tax rates while boosting investments in jobs.
Though Obama pitched it as a “framework that might help break through the political logjam in Washington and get some of these proven ideas moving,” it landed with a familiar thud on Capitol Hill, viewed largely as the latest gambit in the battle between Republicans and Democrats over fiscal and budget matters.
The White House offered the plan as a bid to spur jobs for the middle class. Forget it, Republicans said.
“All I can say is what he said today really doesn't make much sense,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee.
Congress is scheduled to leave on Friday for a recess that is to last until Sept. 9. So far, there have been no serious talks between the two parties over how to fund the federal government after Oct. 1, when the fiscal year begins.
Without an agreement, much of the government would shut down. While few expect that to happen, this week's political maneuvers are reminders of the deep divisions between the parties and how difficult it will be to find common ground — at least ahead of the clock running out.
Obama's plan would lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to no more than 28 percent by eliminating loopholes such as those that incentivize companies to send jobs overseas. Manufacturers would pay a rate no higher than 25 percent, and Obama would use the one-time revenue for infrastructure and manufacturing innovation institutes that connect businesses, universities and federal agencies.
The plan doesn't offer any concessions to Republicans, who want corporate tax reform coupled with individual tax reform. White House spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri told reporters that “the bargain isn't supposed to be for the Republicans, it's for the middle class.”
Obama is scheduled to meet separately on Wednesday with Democrats in the House and Senate on Capitol Hill, but not with Republicans.
“Almost every time, they said ‘no' (to Obama's proposals) before they got in the room, whatever the particular issue at that time was,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md. “His success in meeting with Republicans has been very low, and I think he's probably not very optimistic.”