* Republicans regroup after Medicare criticism
* Try to put focus on Obama's weak spot -- economy, jobs
* Pelosi dismisses proposals as "warmed over stew"
(Updates with details on Republican plan)
By Thomas Ferraro and Andy Sullivan
WASHINGTON, May 26 Congressional Republicans
unveiled a jobs agenda on Thursday, hitting President Barack
Obama where it hurts -- the stubbornly high 9 percent
Two days after suffering a stunning election defeat,
largely because of their unpopular proposal to privatize
Medicare, Republicans sought to focus attention on the still
weak economic recovery.
Their jobs-creation proposals, largely a repackaging of
policies they have long advocated, include lowering taxes,
reducing federal regulations, increasing domestic energy
production, boosting trade and discouraging frivolous
"Just because we proposed it in the past doesn't mean it's
not a good idea," House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner
told a Capitol Hill news conference.
"We're trying to package this in a way where the American
people understand what it's going to take in terms of changing
policies here that will create jobs in America," said Boehner,
flanked by fellow House Republican leaders.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi brushed off the
Republican plan as a "warmed-over stew" of failed ideas that
contributed to the weak economy under former President George
The economy promises to again be a core issue for voters in
the 2012 presidential and congressional elections. Jobs and
gasoline prices tend to drive voters' impressions of the
overall health of the economy, and Obama does not look strong
on either front.
America's unemployment rate was 7.8 percent when Obama took
office in January 2009. It rose to nearly 10 percent during
last November's election and has since dipped to 9.0 percent.
Gasoline prices averaged $1.79 per gallon at the start of
Obama's presidency. Last week, they averaged $3.85 a gallon.
More broadly, the U.S. economic recovery remains fragile,
A report on Thursday showed the economy grew at a scant 1.8
percent annual rate in the first three months of the year and
jobless claims remain above 400,000 a week, implying an
economic soft patch could likely last through the second
quarter and possibly longer.
Republicans won the House from Obama's Democrats in last
year's election by keying on a top voter concern, the weak
economy, while dismissing Obama's stimulus plan as a failure
and repeatedly asking: "Where are the jobs?"
On Tuesday, Republicans lost a House seat in a special
election in New York, which many analysts attribute to voter
anger over their proposed cuts to the Medicare healthcare
program for the elderly.
Democrats accuse Republicans of being more interested in
cutting government spending than in creating jobs.
Pelosi said the Democratic stimulus package of 2009 created
or saved 3.5 million jobs, and that further job-creation bills
had been blocked by Senate Republicans.
Obama enjoyed a boost in his approval rating -- to more
than 50 percent -- after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden,
but polls show most Americans still do not approve of his
handling of the economy.
The House Republicans' "Plan for America's Job Creators"
aims to boost employment and economic growth largely by easing
federal regulations and taxes, two conservative cornerstones.
For example, it would cut the top business and individual
tax rates to no more than 25 percent, from 35 percent. It would
also reform the tax code so U.S.-based companies would only be
taxed on income earned in the United States, not in foreign
(Additional reporting by Glenn Somerville and Kim Dixon;
Editing by Vicki Allen and Eric Beech)