By Jared Allen - 02/20/10 10:25 PM EST
A group of Democratic governors on Saturday took a swipe at congressional Republicans for withholding their support for a proposed jobs bill containing small-business tax credits, which the governors argued were urgently needed in their states.
Speaking at a Democratic Governors Association press conference across the street from the National Governors Association winter meeting, Govs. John Markell (Del.), Martin O’Malley (Md.), Ted Strickland (Ohio) and Christine Gregoire (Wash.) issued harsh criticism toward leaders of the minority party in Congress for, as the governors put it, walking away from one of Republicans’ signature issues just because it was included in the Democratic jobs proposal.
“It’s time for congressional Republicans to start doing the same,” Markell said. “For this country to move forward, we can’t have one party that tries to bring people together and one party that sits on the sidelines.”
O’Malley, the DGA vice chairman, also said he supported tax credits designed to reward small businesses for making permanent hires, stressing that he’d support any “appropriate” job creating measures as long as they are implemented as quickly as possible.
“If we’re going to work our country out of this recession we need to find ways to leave partisanship behind, and find practical ways to come together around the things that all of us know actually work,” he said.
Gregoire, who was blistering in her criticism of Republicans who have blocked or sought to sideline most of President Barack Obama’s domestic agenda and have repeatedly accused Democrats of shutting them out of the lawmaking process, said Washington Republicans are out of touch with even their own state legislatures.
“My legislature understands that this is not about partisanship,” Gregoire said. “And so my ask, along with my colleagues today, is for the Republicans who sit on the sideline in Congress to look out to the legislatures across the country who are working together.”
Strickland issued a challenge to Republican governors to distance themselves from entrenched GOP lawmakers, especially in regard to federal aid to states that has been subject to legislative gridlock in Congress.
The embattled Ohioan said a proposed $25 billion in federal Medicaid assistance – known as FMAP – is “an example of where we should be able to find a bipartisan agreement.”
“This is not comprehensive healthcare reform, and neither should we pretend that it is. But it’s so hugely important to the states right now. And it’s one area where I think both Democratic and Republican governors can agree.
“But the Republican governors, especially those who are already using [FMAP funds], assuming that it’s forthcoming in order to balance their budgets, should not expect Democrats to carry the burden of seeing that happen,” Strickland added. “They should step up very publicly and urge the administration, and their senators and representatives from their states to support it, as well.”
Markell said Democratic governors were speaking out because of a “real frustration for us… that there are a number of these elements that the Republicans have supported in the past that they’re not supporting now, the small-business tax credit, for instance.”
At the same time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reportedly opposed the small-business tax credit during a private, bipartisan meeting at the White House earlier this month, which Obama held with House and Senate leaders to try and find common ground on a jobs bill.