By Ben Geman - 10/29/11 10:30 AM EDT
Republicans used their weekly address Saturday to press Senate Democrats and President Obama to support a series of House-passed bills that GOP officials say would boost job growth by scaling back regulations.
Freshman Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.) said there has been some progress on bipartisan action to boost hiring, but not nearly enough.
He praised the overwhelming bipartisan House passage Thursday of legislation to repeal the requirement that governments at all levels withhold 3 percent of payments to government contractors, a bill that has White House support.
“We owe it to the American people to find common ground. We did it with the free trade agreements the president recently signed and we’re doing it with the repeal of the withholding tax and we can do more,” said Schilling, who owns a pizza restaurant.
“Unfortunately, many of the jobs bills the House has passed are stuck in the Democratic-led Senate. We call these bills the ‘forgotten 15,'” he added.
The 15 bills include measures that mandate a major expansion of offshore drilling and faster permitting; block several recent or upcoming Environmental Protection Agency regulations; and thwart the Federal Communications Commission’s “net neutrality” rules, among other proposals.
“These bills are common-sense bills that address those excessive federal regulations that are hurting small business job creation,” said Schilling, who also plugged the GOP’s overall “job creators” agenda.
But the Obama administration has launched a counteroffensive against GOP allegations that regulations are to blame for the sputtering economy, arguing there’s no data to back up the assertion and that weak demand is the real problem.
“[T]wo commonly repeated misconceptions are that uncertainty created by proposed regulations is holding back business investment and hiring and that the overall burden of existing regulations is so high that firms have reduced their hiring,” states a Treasury Department blog post this week by Jan Eberly, the assistant secretary for economic policy.
President Obama, in recent public appearances, has also pushed back against claims that environmental regulations are stifling the economy.
At a campaign event in Denver Tuesday he touted White House regulatory reform efforts but added:
“This country is not going to compete in the 21st century based on who's got the cheapest labor and the dirtiest air and the dirtiest water. That race to the bottom is not a race we want to be on. I want a race to the top.”
Schilling, however, sought to cast Obama and Democrats as out of touch with the needs of small business owners as he touted the GOP agenda and the 15 bills in particular.
“They were written after listening to the farmers, manufacturers and small businesspeople from around the country,” Schilling said.
“A number of them have bipartisan support. Yet the Senate won’t give these bills a vote, and the president hasn’t called for action,” he said.