Liberal groups to push Obama on jobs plan

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Thursday, March 10, 2011; 8:28 AM

A coalition of liberal groups Thursday will call for the Obama administration to put out a detailed plan to create jobs and urge both parties to stop focusing so much on the federal budget deficit.

At a conference dubbed the "Summit on Jobs and America's Future," liberal leaders such as AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa plan to speak about the continued high unemployment rate and urge more government spending to reduce it.

"Washington is focused on draconian cuts that will hurt the recovery," said Roger Hickey, head of the liberal group the Campaign for America's Future, which is sponsoring the conference. "The immediate crisis is jobs."

Hickey, in an interview, acknowledged Republicans in the House would oppose virtually any kind of plan that would call for increased spending to spur economic growth. And he said officials in the Obama administration had bluntly told him "there is no jobs bill they can get out of the Republican Congress."

But Hickey argues Democrats should call for more spending anyway. Even if Republicans block a stimulus-style bill, voters in 2012 would know Democrats tried to push an ambitious plan.

Hickey's message is likely to fall on deaf ears. The administration, for now, has decided its best course is a protracted budget debate with Congressional Republicans over how much government spending to reduce and is showing little desire for more ambitious legislation to create jobs.

"There will be some occasions where Democratic constituencies aren't happy with us because we're having to rationalize government," Obama told a group of liberal donors at fundraiser for congressional Democrats on Tuesday night in Boston. "But it's necessary. "

Obama today

The president and First Lady will host a conference to discourage bullying. He will also meet with a group of members of Congress from both sides on a bill to reform the No Child Left Behind Act.

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