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Obama: No GOP plan creates as many jobs as Jobs Act

esident Barack Obama, followed by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak arrives for their joint news conference, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011, in the East Room of White House in Washington.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Updated at 3:40 p.m. ET

Republicans managed to block President Obama's $447 billion jobs bill in the Senate earlier this week, but the president charged today that the GOP has yet to offer any better ideas for job creation.

During a White House news conference today, the president said that independent economists have said the American Jobs Act -- which is comprised of tax cuts and investments in areas like education and infrastructure, as well as state aid -- would create up to 1.9 million jobs.

"Frankly, we have not seen a lot of ideas come forward from Republicans that would indicate that same kind of commitment to job creation," the president said. "If they do, if Sen. [Mitch] McConnell or Speaker [John] Boehner say to me, 'We want to get infrastructure built in this country, we think putting construction workers back to work is important,' I'll be right there."

Republicans say their jobs agenda is focused on loosening burdensome regulations, cutting spending and reforming the tax code. Now that it's clear the GOP can block the president's bill in both the House and the Senate, Democrats plan to put Republicans on the spot by forcing votes on individual elements of the bill. They say Republicans will be hard-pressed to vote against the individual parts of the bill that have won bipartisan support in the past.

"I don't know when rebuilding our roads and bridges that are decaying suddenly became a partisan issue," Mr. Obama said today, arguing that infrastructure investments have the support of the typically-conservative leaning business community.

Mr. Obama held today's news conference with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to hail the recently-passed free trade agreement between the U.S. and South Korea, and the president cited the deal as proof that Democrats and Republicans can work together.

The deal, he said, "shows that we are happy to work with Republicans where they are willing to put politics behind the interest of the American people and come up with proposals that are going to create jobs."

Mr. Obama said that the deal should create up to 70,000 jobs -- although he's said earlier that it's not enough to revive the economy.

Republicans have said they are willing to consider portions of the president's plan.

"I think there are parts of the president's plan where we can in fact find common ground and we'll continue to work with him," House Speaker John Boehner said today, citing free trade, tax relief for small businesses and money to repair infrastructure. He said the House will soon vote to prevent a 3 percent withholding tax on government contractors from going into effect, which is part of Mr. Obama's jobs plan.

Update: Senate Republicans today unveiled their own jobs bill, which Sen. John McCain said was in response to the president's criticism.

"Part of it is in response to the president saying we don't have a proposal," McCain said at a press conference today. "We've got lots of proposals -- and we've had lots of proposals. We've put them together now [in a bill], and that's our plan."

The GOP's "Jobs Through Growth Act" consists of a number of key Republican goals -- including a balanced budget constitutional amendment, a repeal of Mr. Obama's health care overhaul and a repeal of the Dodd Frank Act. It would also put a moratorium on new regulations until the unemployment rate is lowered, and it reduces the top corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. It would reduce individual income tax rates to a maximum of 25 percent with two marginal rates, among other things.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called the bill a "welcome breakthrough" for the Republican party. "We have to be for something," he said.

"I'm no longer interested in taking votes that shape 2012 election," Graham said. "I'm interested in taking votes that create jobs in 2011."

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky added, "You can't create jobs by just creating infrastructure," a move he said amounted to "putting band aids" on the problem.