WASHINGTON — US House speaker John Boehner on Thursday dismissed President Barack Obama's $447 billion jobs plan as "more of the same," saying its tax credits were not enough to create private sector employment.
The Republican leader repeated an earlier concession that the "American Jobs Act" offered opportunities for "common ground" with Democrats, but he was otherwise scathing of Obama's proposals, which were launched amid great fanfare last week.
"Let's be honest with ourselves. The president's proposals are a poor substitute for the pro-growth policies that are needed to remove barriers to job creation in America," Boehner said.
"If we want job growth, we need to recognize who really creates jobs in America. It's the private sector," he told an audience at the Economic Club of Washington.
Obama's plan to kick start the world's biggest economy and combat 9.1 percent unemployment would halve payroll taxes, provide aid to cash-strapped states and deliver a $50 billion infrastructure investment pot to target joblessness.
But Boehner said it amounted to "more initiatives that seem to have more to do with the next election than the next generation," and would fail to help the United States bounce back from the global meltdown of 2008.
"The reality is that employers will hire if they have the right incentives, but the incentives have to outweigh the costs," he said.
"Businesses are not going to hire someone for a $4,000 tax credit if government mandates impose long-term costs on them that significantly exceed the temporary credit."
The jobs bill would be paid for by raising taxes on the country's richest people and corporations, removing itemized tax deductions and some exemptions for those earning over $200,000 a year and families which take in $250,000.
Obama, who is suffering record low poll ratings for his economic stewardship, has demanded that Congress pass his proposals immediately, challenging Republicans not to play "political games" at a time of great national urgency.
But his plea for cross-party cooperation has so far failed to generate traction and Boehner, who clashed with Obama over the timing of the bill's launch in the days leading up to it, delivered further opprobrium Thursday.
"Much of the talk in Washington right now is basically about more of the same," Boehner said, partly turning Obama's successful 2008 election slogan "Change or more of the same," back on the president.
"It strikes me as odd that at a time when it's clear that the tax code needs to be fundamentally reformed, the first instinct out of Washington is to come up with a host of new tax credits that make the tax code more complex."
Republicans in the House of Representatives, who have been a roadblock for Obama since their mid-term election triumph last year, insist Obama's proposals prove he is wedded to raising taxes, which they say will slow job creation.
Obama, who has been touring the country to laud the bill, has argued that some Republicans would prefer to make jobs a weapon in the 2012 elections rather than back the bill.