Schumer questions GOP sincerity on job creation

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on 'Face the Nation,' Sunday, June 19, 2011.
UPDATED 1:45p.m. ET

Sen. Charles Schumer on Sunday questioned whether Republicans really want to help the American economy grow ahead of the 2012 elections.

The New York Democrat said his colleagues in the Senate would be introducing a number of measures aimed at creating jobs, including one that provides tax breaks to companies that hire new workers.

"That is aimed at sort of bringing our Republican colleagues along to do something" about the struggling U.S. economy, which created just 54,000 jobs in May, Schumer said on CBS News' "Face the Nation."

"If they are against a business tax cut to help employment, they have always been for business tax cuts in the past, you gotta wonder, maybe they don't want the economy to grow," said Schumer, the number three Democrat in the Senate.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier on the program said policymakers in Washington "need to quit doing what we have been doing" and said massive government spending programs to aid the economy over the past few years "didn't do any good."

Schumer countered that the $830 billion spending program approved in 2009 prevented what would have been a second Great Depression.

The sparring between Democrats and Republicans over how to reduce unemployment is likely to intensify in coming weeks a statutory deadline for Congress to raise its self-imposed borrowing limit approaches.

The Obama administration has said Congress has until August 2 to raise the debt ceiling from its current $14.3 trillion or face economic calamity as the United States would default on its debts for the first time in history.

Vice President Joe Biden is leading ongoing talks between Republicans and Democrats about raising the debt ceiling and reducing the deficit.

McConnell said Republicans and Democrats may end up agreeing a short-term deal to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a default and then "having the same discussion again in the fall" on the deficit if leaders can not agree now on how to change Social Security and Medicare, known in Washington as entitlements.

"The president and the vice president, everybody knows you have to tackle entitlement reform. If we can't do that, then we'll probably end up with a very short-term proposal over, you know, a few months," said the Kentucky Republican.

The debate will only get more intense as the presidential campaign heats up and the Federal Reserve winds down its unprecedented efforts to juice the U.S. economy. The central bank's $600 billion round of government bond buying is scheduled to end in a few weeks time.

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke earlier this month said the economy is still producing at levels "well below its potential" and warned lawmakers on Capitol Hill that aggressive cuts in government spending could derail the still fragile economic recovery.

  • Corbett Daly On Twitter» Deputy Politics Editor Corbett B. Daly is based in Washington. He has worked at Reuters, Thomson Financial News and CBS MarketWatch.