House Dems relaunch jobs push

House Democratic leaders unveiled a jobs package Tuesday that will form the centerpiece of their economic platform as the party aims to retake the House in 2014.

Spearheaded by Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip, the Democrats' “Make it in America” agenda is designed to spur domestic job creation while simultaneously pressuring House Republicans to get more aggressive in their efforts to boost the economy.

The Democrats say the series of reforms would nibble away at the nation's lingering unemployment crisis by promoting exports, strengthening trade enforcement, hiking infrastructure spending and eliminating tax benefits for companies that move jobs overseas.

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Launching the package Tuesday at the Center for American Progress, a liberal policy shop in Washington, Hoyer sought to emphasize that many of the proposals already have bipartisan support, and he urged GOP leaders to bring them to the floor without delay.

“Our plan draws support from business and labor and was formed from the best ideas on both sides,” Hoyer said in his prepared remarks. “Now is the time to ask ourselves as a nation what we can do, together, to restore domestic manufacturing and the jobs, innovation, and global leadership that come with it.”

The plan is similar to those Hoyer and the Democrats have pushed in years past, though they've repackaged it this Congress to emphasize four core areas of focus: manufacturing strategy; export promotion; enticing companies to bring jobs back to the United States; and efforts to train workers for the modern economy.

Central to the package is a bill, sponsored by Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), repealing tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas while establishing a new tax credit for businesses that bring jobs back home. Another key component is a proposal, championed by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), providing federal help to clean-energy companies in hopes of keeping them competitive.

GOP leaders have shown little interest in these bills in the past, and there's no indication those dynamics will change this year. Still, Democrats see the package as an effective way to highlight the stark ideological differences between the two parties over the federal government’s role in rebuilding the economy.

The Democrats see Washington playing a decidedly proactive role, providing funding and other incentives encouraging businesses to hire. Republican leaders, meanwhile, view the government as an impediment to the job creation they say would naturally flow from private enterprise if Washington would just get out of the way. They’re urging Congress to cut taxes, slash federal spending and scale back regulations they say are strangling the private sector.

Hoyer, meanwhile, is hoping at least some elements of his retooled “Make it in America” agenda can walk the fine line between those two divergent economic philosophies.

“With compromise in short supply these days on Capitol Hill, working together on these four core components of Make It In America – with their broad support – could help us build greater trust and show the country that Congress can still achieve results,” he said Tuesday.