GOP bashes Obama on jobs, the economy

Attempting to shift the national debate back to the volatile economy, House Republicans this weekend are placing blame for the continued jobs crisis squarely on the shoulders of President Obama.

With fewer than six weeks remaining before November's elections, the GOP wants to paint Obama and the Democrats as big-government spendthrifts whose tax, energy and regulatory policies have kept the unemployment rate above 8 percent for almost all of the president's term.

To deliver their message, GOP leaders tapped Vernon Parker, a former mayor and council member from the Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley who's in a tough race to fill the House seat in Arizona's newly created Ninth District. It marks the first time in this election cycle that a House candidate was chosen to give the Republicans' weekly address – a clear indication that GOP leaders are hoping the national spotlight will lift Parker's chances in November.

"Nothing is more important than getting the middle class back to work. … We have employers who want to hire and workers who want to work, but government won’t get out of the way," Parker said Saturday in the GOP's radio address.

“We need to do something about the fact that the United States - the Land of Opportunity – has the highest corporate tax rate in the world," he added. "That just pushes jobs away, overseas, to India, to China, to all our competitors."

Parker also took a shot at Obama's signature healthcare reforms, saying the law "is driving up costs" and "making it harder for small businesses to expand and hire."

"Instead, let’s repeal ObamaCare and its $716 billion in Medicare cuts and replace it with common-sense reforms that protect Americans’ access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a lower cost," he said.

“While we’re at it, we need to look at reining in all the excessive red tape that is making it harder to live, work, hire, and do business."

The remarks come amid a rough patch for GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who's been plagued by questions about his own taxes as well as negative comments about the "47 percent" of Americans he said are dependent on government for even basic necessities. Romney has fallen in the polls in recent weeks – particularly in vital battleground states – adding to the GOP's urgency to shift the debate back to the economy.

Saturday's GOP address was just the latest attempt to put Romney's reputation as a business guru up against Obama's economic record.

"I agree with Mitt Romney and Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRepublicans are avoiding gun talks as election looms The Hill's 12:30 Report Flake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan MORE that we need to stop all the looming tax hikes and develop a pro-growth tax code that brings jobs home and keeps jobs here," Parker said.

Parker is running against Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, a former state legislator with a long record supporting liberal causes. Recent polls indicate the race is tight, though RealClearPolitics indicates Sinema currently has a slight edge.

Parker's comments spotlight the stark ideological differences between the two parties over the government's role in rebuilding the economy. Behind Obama, the Democrats have pushed proposals designed to create jobs by boosting infrastructure spending, helping states keep public servants employed and hiking taxes on corporations that outsource jobs.

Republicans, meanwhile, argue that the federal government would help the recovery most by simply getting out of the way of private enterprise. Behind Romney, they want to enact across-the-board tax cuts, slash federal spending and scale back regulations they say are strangling small businesses.

Neither side has run away from its position. Indeed, both have said they hope November's elections will be a referendum on which path voters want the country to go.