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New Approach? New Congress? Or Both?

They're back, and they've got plenty to say. That's usually what happens when lawmakers spend weeks away from Washington's intense spotlight.

The topic du jour ahead of President Obama's special address to Congress is, of course, jobs and unemployment. The President is expected to propose $300 billion in tax cuts and federal spending as a result of the latest jobs report, which shows not one new job was created in August.

It's a point on which Republicans have been quick to pounce.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called for "a new approach" in jumpstarting the economy. On the floor of the Senate, he listed President Obama's "failed stimulus" as just one in a string of reasons why Republicans oppose his proposals.

"With all due respect, Mr. President, there's a much simpler reason for opposing your economic proposals that has nothing to do with politics: they don't work," McConnell said.

Interestingly, Democrats, particularly House Democrats, have been hitting the jobs theme since -- well, since they passed health care reform, lost the 2010 midterm elections, and consequently discovered they misspent their time on something that wasn't the public's top priority.

But like newfound religion, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her top lieutenants have been repeating the jobs chorus week after week, while House Republicans sharpened their focus on spending cuts.

The end result? No legislation on the jobs front. Instead, there's a lot of finger-pointing.

"Rather than working with Democrats to pass job-creating legislation, [Republicans] insisted on reckless cuts that hurt our economic recovery and prevented us from getting Americans working again," Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said.

If there's any agreement between Republicans and Democrats, it's that job creation should be Washington's main goal. But that's where the consensus ends. Democrats typically view government and spending (or investments) as the answers. Republicans see those as the problems and want to cut out the red tape and overregulation.

The predicament leads to another likely round of partisan bickering and political deadlock. The one thing that might change the environment this time around is Congress's horrible poll numbers. According to a WSJ/NBC poll, 82 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing -- an all-time high and far worse than the president's approval ratings. And, more than half of those polled say they'd replace the current members of Congress with fresh faces.

At this rate, that might be the only way to see real change in Washington.

Print     Email to a Friend    posted on Tuesday, September 06, 2011 7:26 PM

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