WASHINGTON — A group of Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled a plan they said would spur hiring and revive the flagging economy, the latest sign that President Barack Obama's full-throated attacks over jobs may be leaving wounds.
The new bill was outlined by a cross section of lawmakers and was notable not for its fresh policy approach, but for its clear admission that the party feared losing the rhetorical fight over job creation.
Obama has been touring the country promoting his jobs bill and repeatedly calling on Congress to "pass the bill." After slow-walking the vote, Senate Democrats brought up a version of the legislation this week. It was blocked by Republicans, resulting in headlines that seem to have accelerated the new strategy.
"We just thought it was time to put this all into a package. I will freely admit to you that part of it is in response to the president saying we don't have a proposal," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. McCain led the effort to write the legislation along with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
"From the Republican point of view this is a breakthrough," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., another supporter of the bill. "We have to be for something."
The bill is something of a greatest hits of Republican economic proposals. It calls for repeal of the new health care law, a balanced budget amendment, expansion of offshore oil drilling and a tax overhaul that lowers rates and eliminates corporate loopholes.
Paul said the bill would create 5 million new jobs — although he did not offer a specific time frame.
On Thursday, the Republican senators sought to distinguish their approach from the president's, saying it would create jobs by addressing structural problems in the economy, rather than aiming for immediate job growth through government spending.
"This is a pro-growth proposal to create the environment for jobs, and that's as opposed to the short-term sweetener approach of the Obama administration that simply hasn't worked," Portman said.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., quickly blasted the Senate proposal as "a political fig leaf that would likely add to the deficit while doing nothing to create jobs."
House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, on Thursday also made a point of promoting the closest thing his chamber has to a jobs bill — a compilation of economic and energy proposals packaged as a jobs plan in May. Boehner also reminded the president of the "Plan for America's Job Creators" in a private phone call on Thursday, the speaker's office said.