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Sen. Portman: Obama ‘doubling down’ on his failed jobs policies

Republican Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) blasted President Obama, accusing him of breaking his promises to boost the struggling economy and “doubling down” on his policy mistakes.

Portman, who is considered a favorite to be GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate, dismissed Obama’s approach to the economy as “more spending, more regulation, and higher taxes,” as he delivered the weekly Republican address.

“This week, 13 million Americans won’t go to work, not because they’re on vacation, but because they can’t find jobs. As a candidate, Barack Obama promised to help these Americans find work,” said Portman.

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“We gave him the ability to turn things around. And three years later, the results are in: Unemployment is over 8 percent for the longest period since the Great Depression.  And it’s actually higher than that because so many Americans are so discouraged—they’ve stopped looking for work,” he continued.

Portman charged Obama with placing jobs on the back-burner while he pursued his signature domestic achievement, healthcare reform, and passing an ineffective stimulus package early in his administration.

“Instead of focusing on growing jobs and reigniting our economy, President Obama focused on growing government and tried to remake the United States into the image of the debt-laden countries of Europe,” said Portman.

“You don’t hear much from the President anymore about the two biggest initiatives of his time in office.  One was passing the so-called stimulus bill.  He and his economic team promised that spending almost $1 trillion of taxpayer money would get unemployment down to 5.6 percent by today.  Instead, it’s 46 percent higher.  Measured by their own standards, his policies have failed us,” he said.

“The other initiative was pushing through the unaffordable health care spending law, which will grow the government by $2.6 trillion, and do something President Obama promised he would never do: hit millions of middle class Americans with a massive tax increase.”

Republicans have used the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding much of Obama’s Affordable Care aAct healthcare reform bill as constitutional under Congress’s taxing powers to argue that the law is a massive tax increase on middle class families.

 “Based on this record, you’d think that President Obama would’ve learned from his mistakes.  Instead he seems to be doubling down,” Portman continued. 

Portman’s address comes as the White House and Congress intensify their fight over extending the Bush era-tax rates which are set to expire at the end of the year. Neither the president nor lawmakers want voters to be hit with a tax increase on Jan. 1, but Republicans have rebuffed Obama’s calls to extend the lower rates for those making below $250,000 a year, while forcing those above that threshold to pay more.

Obama has launched an effort this week to pressure lawmakers on extending only the Bush-rates for those below his $250,000 threshold, holding a White House event with taxpayers he said would be hit hard by the impending tax rise and taking his message to voters in Iowa and Virginia.

In his weekly address, Obama called GOP efforts to force an extension of all rates for one year “more top-down economics.”

Portman, though, touted the GOP’s own economic prescriptions, saying lawmakers hoped to see a comprehensive tax overhaul and “reform our complex, outdated tax code by eliminating loopholes, lowering tax rates, and rewarding hard work, innovation, and job creation.”

Portman also called on his colleagues to help “lift the regulatory burdens that small businesses say are the single greatest threat from Washington today.”

“The government-knows-best approach of the past few years has given us the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression,” Portman said.