What they haven’t done, at least so far, is agree on a way to create them.
Instead, Republicans argued for less spending. Democrats argued for stimulating the economy. Congress agreed on almost nothing.
And on Friday, that was what they got — almost nothing. New statistics showed zero net jobs created in August, which left the national unemployment rate at 9.1 percent.
Both parties continue to say they want to reboot this debate on jobs, which has highlighted Washington’s inability to find shared solution to the big issues facing the country. So far, the most substantive fight they’ve had was about whether President Obama should speak about jobs on next Wednesday or next Thursday.
This week, in anticipation of Congress’s return from its August recess, both parties have laid out new plans for increasing U.S. employment. For now, the new plans look a great deal like the old plans — the ones that Congress has fought about for eight months already.
Rep. James Lankford (R), a freshman from Oklahoma, said the new jobs numbers showed that the two parties would have to find the areas of agreement that they’ve ignored so far.
“If we’re trying to constantly put in a poison pill [that the other party won’t accept], we’re never going to move. Never.” Lankford said in a telephone interview Friday. He said the possible areas of compromise include tax reform and scaling back regulations on power plants and small banks.
The House GOP plan for the fall was laid out in a memo from Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Monday. It proposes delaying or rolling back a series of federal regulations — including some cutting air pollutants and greenhouse gases — that Cantor called “costly bureaucratic handcuffs” for businesses.
Already this year, the GOP-led House has voted to roll back greenhouse-gas regulations, and to repeal the health care law. But these bills have largely fizzled in the Democrat-held Senate.
So why would the GOP try the same tactic again?
“It’s not the job of the Republican House majority to design bills that meet [Senate Majority Leader] Harry Reid’s tastes,” said Laena Fallon, a spokeswoman for Cantor. “We have set out an aggressive pro-growth agenda that will foster an environment where job creators and small businesses have the opportunity to grow and people can get back to work.”
On Friday, Republicans did get news of an early victory. President Obama agreed to pull back new rules on ozone pollution — one of the regulations that the GOP had agreed to target this fall.
In the Senate, Democrats say they want to spend the fall working on bills that would use government programs to pump up employment. The exact slate is not set, a Democratic aide said. But it might include a bill that tries to promote energy efficiency overhauls in buildings and homes, through government loans and government loan guarantees.