Fixing the economy: It's Boehner's turn

@CNNMoney September 15, 2011: 8:23 AM ET
John Boenher will be talking jobs plan on Thursday.

John Boenher will be talking jobs on Thursday.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- After giving President Obama's economic stimulus plan something less than an enthusiastic endorsement, House Republicans will offer their own ideas Thursday for getting the economy back on track.

House Speaker John Boehner will deliver the plan, dubbed "Liberating America's Economy" in an early afternoon speech to the Economic Club of Washington.

Boehner's policy prescriptions are expected to mirror the Republican Party's long-running position that the key to jump starting growth is to get government out of the way and allow the private sector to do its thing.

That means less regulation, lower taxes and big reductions in government spending.

According to his office, the Speaker will "discuss the need to liberate America's economy by removing government barriers to private-sector job growth."

Boehner will urge the debt super committee, which has until November to propose big deficit cuts, to pursue tax reform by closing loopholes but not raising taxes. The committee should also address the entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, he will say.

While the address will offer policy contrasts, it will lack the pomp and circumstance of Obama's joint address to Congress -- and the primetime television audience.

What's probably not in the speech? Anything that sounds good to Democrats.

In the first few days after lawmakers returned from recess, there were some fleeting signs that a compromise on stimulus might be in the offing. But now, Congress is back to bickering.

Last week, President Obama introduced a stimulus plan that included a mix of $253 billion in tax cuts and $194 billion in new spending designed to jumpstart the economy.

Top Republicans indicated there were some parts of the plan they liked -- that is, until they found out how Obama wanted to pay for the spending: Tax hikes.

And that's a non-starter, according Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and leading Republican economist.

"The speaker is certainly going to point out the deficiencies in what the president has proposed," he said.

Boehner is likely to tout legislation the Republican-controlled House has already passed. The bills have names like the "Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act" and "The Energy Tax Prevention Act."

Obama battles job crisis

They've been jammed up in the Senate for months, and have no chance of being passed by that chamber, where Democrats outnumber Republicans.

So for all the talk in Washington of substantial policy changes to lend support to the economy, is Washington essentially stuck in neutral?

"It feels that way, doesn't it?" Holtz-Eakin said.

Of course, that's not a new problem.

The economy is in the dumps and job creation has dried up. The best data indicates there is a significant risk of the economy falling into a another recession.

And what has the 112th Congress done about it?

Pretty much nothing. Congress has passed only a handful of laws since the current legislative session started in January.

There is still a chance that Congress will extend unemployment benefits and the payroll tax holiday -- two provisions of Obama's proposal. Those programs are already on the books, but are set to expire at the end of the year.

"If nothing else, at the end of the year there will have to be legislation moved that takes care of extenders," Holtz-Eakin said. "There could be a deal in that context."

--CNN's Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report. To top of page

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