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America Has Spoken, Will the GOP Listen?

Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer looks ahead to the House Republicans announcing their agenda.

On Thursday, Congressional Republicans plan to announce their “agenda.” They claim that this agenda is the product of listening to the American people through an online initiative called America Speaks Out – indeed they have hidden the details of their agenda for months claiming that they wanted to give Americans a chance to help guide them. “I would expect the ideas that come out of this Web site and the involvement of our members will lead to ideas that we can attempt to implement today,” said House Republican Leader Boehner during the somewhat bungled unveiling

We hope so too, particularly since the idea that has drawn the most interest in their job creation section with overwhelming support is one that President Obama has been pushing – and Congressional Republicans have been opposing – for years:

Stop the outsourcing of jobs from America to other countries that do not pay taxes into the U.S. and stop the tax breaks that are given to these companies outsourcing.

Here’s a rundown of Congressional Republicans’ voting record on this idea:

  • House Republicans Voted Against the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act: To help create or save more than 1 million American jobs and prevent corporations from shipping jobs overseas and sticking American taxpayers with the bill. 99% of House Republicans voted no.
  • House Republicans Voted Against the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act: To clamp down on tax provisions that are strong incentives for U.S. corporations that shift jobs or profits offshore, either through accounting gimmicks or by moving actual operations, and to provide for state aid to protect 161,000 teacher jobs and 158,000 other jobs for police, firefighters and in the private sector. 99% of House Republicans voted no.
  • House Republicans Voted Against the Small Business Tax Relief Act: To eliminate certain “1099” reporting requirements for small businesses paid for by ending tax breaks that encourage companies to move American jobs overseas. 99% of House Republicans voted no.
  • House Republicans Voted Against the Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Act:To create jobs with bipartisan provisions to spur investment in local rebuilding projects and a range of bipartisan proposals to help our small businesses grow, hire and continue to fuel our economy – including a provision to Save American Jobs by cracking down on foreign tax haven corporations that are using the U.S. tax treaty network to dodge U.S. taxes. 98% of House Republicans voted no.
  • House Republicans Voted Against the HIRE Act: To give small businesses tax incentives to hire jobless Americans estimated to create 300,000 American jobs. This bill included provisions to crack down on offshore accounts for corporations and the wealthy and to delay until 2020 a tax break that would let U.S. multinational companies that have shipped jobs overseas reduce their U.S. taxes by deducting more of their worldwide interest income against their U.S. income. 97% of House Republicans voted no.

As recently as last month, House Republican Leader Boehner attacked the President and Democratic leaders in Congress for closing one of the most egregious loopholes that rewarded companies creating jobs overseas.  Mr. Boehner went out of his way to attack the very idea that his supporters have now apparently identified as the economic priority they’re most interested in.

The President’s record on these issues speaks for itself.  The President has laid out a common-sense, comprehensive strategy to close egregious loopholes and reduce incentives for companies creating jobs overseas and instead, invest in tax cuts for companies creating jobs here at home.  As he said last year, “The way we make our businesses competitive is not to reward American companies operating overseas,” and he has consistently pushed for a tax code that ends these egregious loopholes.  At the same time, the Recovery Actspurred the largest investments in history in American industries for the 21st Century, from the clean energy economy to health IT.  Even now, the President continues to pushfor help for American small business, rebuilding the economy by rebuilding America’s road, rails, and bridges, and incentives to promote investment from America’s businesses.  And the President has made it even more clear in recent months that the words “Made in America” define his vision for America’s economic future:

We need to decide whether we’re willing to do what’s necessary to keep this economy moving in the right direction.  Whether we’re willing to rise above the election-time games and come together, all of us -- Democrats and Republicans and independents -- all of us coming together not just to pass a jobs bill that is going to help small businesses like this one hire and grow, but also to secure a clean energy future, and accelerate our recovery, and rebuild our economy around three simple words -- Made in America.  That is what I’m committed to doing, and that’s what I hope members of both parties will join me in doing in the days ahead and beyond.

Tomorrow we will find out whether Republicans are willing to do this, even after America spoke loud and clear on their own website.

As an Administration that has used new media to engage the public openly on countless issues since coming into office, we certainly applaud the notion that Republicans in Congress would do the same and take the views and votes of the public seriously.  But there will be an easy test to see whether this engagement – and for that matter their claim to have turned over a new leaf – was genuine or simply a cynical fig leaf to cover up their return to the same policies that got us into this mess.

So far they’ve repackaged the same old, failed special interest policies that created the mess to begin with: cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires; cut rules for big corporations and special interests and gamble away the retirement savings of America’s seniors on Wall Street by privatizing social security. The American people deserves to hear genuine ideas to grow the economy, create jobs and strengthen the middle class, so we hope this is not simply a gimmick that pushes the same old promises Congressional Republicans have repeatedly broken.

Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director