Partisan Bickering Continues:
House Republicans Plan Blitz To Counter
Negative Publicity Over Outsourcing
The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives has unveiled a legislative agenda for the coming two months to counter the controversial issue of outsourcing U.S. jobs overseas.
Republicans will pursue a legislative blitz on the floor of the House entitled "Building Careers for a 21st Century America." The campaign will focus on traditional Republican issues such as reducing the burden of government regulation, energy legislation and taxes.
"New anxieties like outsourcing pose new questions to policymakers about how we keep American jobs in America," House Majority Leader Rep. Tom Delay (R-Texas) told reporters at a press conference in a room on the first floor of the U.S. Capitol building. The concerns expressed by Democrats over outsourcing "are more political than policy oriented," he said minutes into the press event. "We see outsourcing as a problem, but it's a problem to be solved. The Democrats see it as an opportunity to exploit. We want to attack outsourcing. They want to attack us. We're offering positive policies. They're offering negative rhetoric. They have no substantive agenda. We have one that includes more than 20 specific legislative proposals already and [we're] working on more."
Flanked by Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kansas), who organized the agenda, Commerce Secretary Don Evans and Don Wainwright, chairman of the new Manufacturing Council at the Commerce Department, DeLay said that Careers for the 21st Century America "is the broadest most forward looking economic agenda that Congress has undertaken in a generation." The title was picked to highlight the importance of careers "because the word careers to Democrats, particularly John Kerry, means that jobs are a statistic and they have nothing to do with the individual," DeLay told the room full of reporters and television cameras.
The goal of the campaign is to double the U.S. gross domestic product in 10 to 15 years. "Lowering the cost of doing business is vitally important for allowing us to compete in the world economy," said DeLay.
The agenda will encompass eight areas: health care; "bureaucratic red-tape termination"; lifelong learning; trade fairness; tax relief and simplification; energy; spurring innovation; and ending lawsuit abuse. There will be specific bills on lifelong learning and creating health savings accounts and association health plans. Bills on reducing red tape and tax relief will be on the floor immediately, "and we will go for eight weeks solid for passing these bills," DeLay said.
On trade, the House will consider the Australian Free Trade Agreement and the Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act intended to "bring our codes up to where they need to be so we can compete and our negotiators can negotiate more fairly," said Blunt.
The Republicans were asked by reporters to respond to comments made at a press conference held earlier that day by Democratic governors from Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The governors want Washington lawmakers to pursue a more aggressive campaign to counter the loss of manufacturing jobs. They had been attending a "manufacturing summit" sponsored by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).
DeLay said: "I think this is a perfect example of why these three governors and this press conference that was held is nothing but politics because what they should have done is come here and find out what has been going on," he said. "I understand that [Rep.] Nancy Peloci (D-Calif.) Sen. Clinton, [Rep.] Charley Rangel and Sen. [Tom] Daschle [D-S.D.] were at this press conference. Not any one of them has any more than a 6 percent voting record with the National Association of Manufacturers. In fact, the NAM weeks ago heard that this political tour was going to happen today and sent a letter to these three governors inviting them to come meet with NAM to look at ways we can enhance manufacturing in this country, and they have yet to hear from the three governors. On the one hand you have three governors who are interested in finding out ways to enhance manufacturing here and doing a political tour and on the other hand you have members of Congress who have the worst voting record in Congress as to how you enhance manufacturing in this country. So their credibility is seriously suspect."
A spokesman for the National Association of Manufacturers said he wasn't sure who at NAM had invited the Democratic governors, but that any attention paid to manufacturing is welcome. "Any time anybody wants to shed light on manufacturing and draw more attention to it, we absolutely welcome it, but we hope at some point that their votes begin to match their rhetoric," said NAM senior vice president Patrick Cleary.
The Democratic governors didn't mince words. The three states they represent (Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania) have lost 375,000 manufacturing jobs since President Bush came into office, they said. The reason is not due to the lack of incentives offered by the states' economic development agencies, but to lax enforcement of trade laws by the Bush administration. "Our country is in a crisis," said Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. "Our country is hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs. The United States ends up looking like a laughingstock of the global community for not standing up for our own manufacturers."
Commerce Sec. Evans met with the three Democratic governors and discussed the Bush administration's trade enforcement efforts. "They left saying, 'Wow, I didn't realize you were doing all of that. I didn't realize that you had that many anti-dumping cases against China. I didn't realize that you had all of these efforts underway,' " Evans told the Capitol Hill press conference. "Once you have a chance to sit down and talk with people in a reasonable way and they understand the policies that this administration has been pursuing for the last three and a half years, they said they begin to understand the great progress we have been making and we'll continue to make."
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