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GOP Attacks Health Care & Energy Bills as Job Killers

Republicans are taking every chance they get to paint Democrats' proposed policies -- any of them, but especially health care -- as job-killing measures. And recent polling shows the tactic could be paying off.

With 10 percent unemployment in the country, even President Obama's meeting with a bipartisan, bicameral group of congressional leaders Wednesday at the White House did little to bridge the divide among the parties on how best to create jobs. While the purpose of the meeting was job creation, Republican leadership from both chambers left arguing that passing health care or climate change legislation -- as Democrats are trying to do -- will actually lead to fewer jobs.

"At the same time we're having a jobs summit -- talking about creating jobs -- you're trying to pass a job-killing health care bill, a job-killing cap-and-trade bill, a runaway EPA administrator imposing heavy costs on the economy," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who attended the White House meeting, said at an afternoon press conference at the Capitol. "Health care, cap and trade, all of that imposes heavy cost on job creation."

"You see one job-killing idea after another coming out of the administration and Washington," added John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

At the meeting, House Republican leaders John Boehner (Ohio), Eric Cantor (Va.), Mike Pence (Ind.) and Dave Camp (Mich.) handed Obama a letter of criticisms for his job-creating plans, as well as a list of their own proposals they say will create more jobs. The leaders later vocalized their criticisms of the administration and Democrats in Congress during a post-meeting press conference.

"Look at the national energy tax. You look at their health care proposal. It's going to raise the cost of employment and make it more difficult for employers to bring people back to work," said Boehner.

In emphasizing this point -- tying nearly every major policy initiative of the Democrats to a negative effect on the economy -- the GOP has raised its standing on handling the economy in the voters' eyes. A new survey out Wednesday by Ipsos-McClatchy found that congressional Democrats' 21-point lead over Republicans in November 2008 in the handling of economic issues has now dwindled to a statistical tie.

At the White House meeting, Republicans did say they were open to new legislation that could help create jobs. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Boehner indicated he would like to support a bipartisan job-stimulating bill, and McConnell told reporters that he would like to as well.

However, don't expect GOP attacks on other Democratic policies to let up in the near future.

"We're willing to talk about some kind of job-creating measure," said McConnell, "But the best thing we could do to get the economy rolling again would be to stop these [health care and cap-and-trade] measures from becoming law."