Republican leaders assess Obama jobs plan in memo to members

House Republican leaders assessed President Obama’s jobs plan Friday in a memo to their rank and file, and they found plenty of proposals to criticize.

The leaders cited trade agreements and incentives for small businesses and veterans as the ideas they liked the most, but signaled little support for proposals they said were too similar to provisions of the 2009 economic stimulus package. The Republicans also criticized, as they have repeatedly, the tax increases that the president proposes as a means to pay for his $447 billion plan.

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“To be clear, we don’t agree with portions of President Obama’s proposal, and Republicans have a different vision for the steps that need to be taken to help our economy get back to creating jobs,” Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.), Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) wrote in the memo. “We are, however, committed to passing legislation to implement the policies in the areas where agreement can be found to support job creation and long-term economic growth.”

The leaders praised Obama’s support for reforming the unemployment insurance system, and pushed him to formally submit trade agreements with Panama, South Korea and Colombia for congressional ratification.

They took a mixed view toward the president’s push for infrastructure spending, as well as to extend and deepen temporary payroll tax cuts. The Republicans said they agreed that money to repair and improve transportation systems could boost economic growth, but advocated for giving states more flexibility to spend federal dollars before appropriating additional money.

“Rather than adding more money to a broken system,” Boehner and his deputies wrote, “Congress and the president should spend the next few months working out a multi-year transportation authorization bill that fixes these problems.”

On the payroll tax, the Republicans said they supported tax relief for the middle class and small businesses, but they warned that adding to a temporary tax cut only made the prospect of a bigger tax increase come 2013 more worrisome.

“There may be significant unforeseen downsides to large temporary tax cuts immediately followed by large tax increases,” they wrote. “In short, we are creating significant new uncertainty in an already uncertain economy.”

Along with the tax increases on charitable deductions and capital gains that Obama proposed, the GOP leaders singled out federal dollars for school construction, neighborhood grants and payments to state and local governments as “a repeat or continuation of spending from his 2009 stimulus bill,” which the party broadly views as a failure.

The Republicans offered no timetable for acting on elements of the plan with which they agree — a signal that few, if any, of the president’s proposals are likely to pass the House in the next few weeks.