By Mike Lillis - 09/01/11 08:07 PM EDT
Liberal House Democrats are pressuring President Obama to ignore his conservative critics and take "bold action" to tackle the lingering jobs crisis.
Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) — the co-chairmen of the Congressional Progressive Caucus — want the president to champion sweeping investments in the nation's crumbling infrastructure as a way to create jobs and jolt the sluggish economy.
Obama is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress Sept. 8 to lay out his plans for tackling the nation's unemployment rate, which is hovering above 9 percent.
Specifically, Grijalva and Ellison are urging Obama to promote a national infrastructure bank, a public-private partnership designed to fund the nation's aging roads, bridges, railways and other vital structures. That proposal, championed by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), is part of the "Make it in America" agenda House Democrats have been pushing this year.
"The country’s infrastructure needs an estimated investment of $2.2 trillion," Grijalva and Ellison wrote. "We should not delay these crucial investments, especially while millions of Americans are out of work. Rebuilding America — without creating expensive new corporate tax loopholes — will further boost our economy and create badly needed jobs."
Such a plan would have a tough road ahead, however, as the majority House Republicans are opposed to new stimulus spending as a way to inject life in the limping economy. Instead, GOP leaders want to cut taxes, slash spending and scale back regulations they say have prevented businesses from hiring new workers.
Indeed, to deliver their radio address this week, Republican leaders have chosen Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who sponsored a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, which would slam the breaks on new stimulus spending unless it was offset elsewhere in the budget.
Both parties insist they're fighting for job creation. But the vast differences between their strategies has left each side accusing the other of failing to address the issue.
Grijalva and Ellison argued Thursday that the federal government has a responsibility to intervene for the sake of the country's economic future.
"There is no shortage of work to be done in America, and no shortage of workers to do it," they wrote to Obama. "We are squandering the talent, energy and hopes of a generation."