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Posted at 11:25 AM ET, 03/16/2011

House Republicans step up focus on jobs

As the debate over keeping the federal government funded continues to dominate the agenda in Washington, House Republicans are redoubling their efforts to make sure that the issue of job-creation – a message that largely fueled their sweeping wins last November – does not get lost in the mix.

As part of that effort, House Republicans are hosting an interactive Forum on Job Creation this morning hosted by Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) in the Capitol Visitors Center.

In an interview Wednesday morning, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) cast the event, which runs from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and is being live-streamed on the Web, as an opportunity for business owners to tell Congress what they believe should be done to fuel private-sector job growth – as well as for House Republicans to drive home the message that the ultimate goal of their proposed spending cuts is job creation.

“So much has gone on in Washington and Congress and the White House to sort of think that we could wave a wand and spend money to create jobs,” Cantor said.

“We’re actually going to listen to CEOs of some of the largest companies in the country and then from some of the smallest, and everything in between, to hear what it is they think should be done or what they need to begin to make investments to create jobs. That’s what all of this is about right now — while we’re heavily engaged in the discussion about spending and cutting spending, it is all really about trying to create an environment for job creation in the private sector.”

Attending Wednesday’s jobs forum are Darlene Miller, president of a Minnesota machining company and a member of President Obama’s jobs council; Aris Papadopoulos, who heads a Norfolk-based heavy building materials company; Jim Plante, president of a San Diego genomics company; Belinda Shafer, owner of a West Virginia construction company; Ignacio Urrabazo Jr., president of Commerce Bank in Laredo, Tex.; and Carl Schramm, president of an entrepreneurship advocacy group in Kansas City.

The interactive part of the forum includes a live “Twitter wall” and several participants who are appearing via teleconference.

Cantor said that in addition to reducing spending, House Republicans are also focused on creating jobs through cutting federal regulations – which the House has already taken steps on — and simplifying the tax code, which the House Ways and Means Committee is examining.

Congress must “stop the regulatory overreach that’s impeding the ability to create jobs,” Cantor said, citing efforts underway to limit the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas regulations, the national health-care law, Federal Communications Commission regulations and others. “Pick your acronym, there are regulations at work, frankly, that really demonstrate a disconnect on the part of bureaucrats versus what small-business people need.”

House Republicans face hurdles, however, when it comes to the issue of whether cutting spending will result in job growth. Democrats point to multiple reports that the House Republican spending bill could result in job losses, including one projection that as many as 700,000 jobs could be lost by next year.

In addition, a Washington Post/ABC News poll released this week shows that Americans are conflicted about whether they believe cutting spending will result in job growth. Forty-one percent of poll respondents said that they believe big cuts in federal spending are likely to create jobs, while 45 percent said they think sweeping cuts are more likely to result in job losses.

Cantor said Wednesday that he hadn’t seen the specific numbers in The Post poll but that overall, Republicans “want to make sure that our message is one that we’re really on the side of the taxpayers.”

“Washington ought to be about tightening its belt, just like taxpayers have been,” Cantor said. “Washington ought to be spending the people’s money the same way that they spend it. And we ought to be acting with complete transparency and accountability. That’s what today is about.”

House Democrats have criticized Republicans for holding the jobs forum 11 weeks into the 112th Congress before any specific legislation on creating jobs has reached the House floor.

“The American public has made it very clear, they want leaders who will come together to find solutions that will put America back to work, while ensuring that we can out-innovate, out-educate, and grow our economy. It’s time for the GOP to stop talking and start working for American families,” said Ellis Brachman, communications director for House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.)

Cantor responded by noting that the current battle over funding the federal government has taken place because the last Congress failed to pass a budget

“First I’d say to the Democrats, it was because they didn’t act on the spending bills; that has by necessity forced us to deal with the mess that they left,” Cantor said, adding that House Republicans see Wednesday’s forum as “the next step to demonstrate that we’re committed to growth.”

By  |  11:25 AM ET, 03/16/2011

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