updated 4/27/2004 2:45:51 PM ET 2004-04-27T18:45:51

With an eye to the fall election, House Republican leaders on Tuesday outlined a spring and summer economic agenda centered on cutting taxes, slicing government red tape and reducing lawsuits.

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On the other side of the Capitol, Democratic leaders accused the Bush administration of failing the economy by ignoring the loss of manufacturing jobs and not enforcing trade laws.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, joined by Commerce Secretary Don Evans and others, said the package of bills to be introduced over the next several months “marks the broadest and most forward-looking economic agenda Congress has undertaken in a generation.”

Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., who helped craft the economic program, said it was “about changing the environment that we put in place over generations.”

The Republicans did not go into specifics, although DeLay mentioned legislation to encourage private sector research and development. GOP Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said the House would take up a free trade agreement with Australia.

Already planned for the next several weeks are several attempts to make permanent the tax cuts Congress has passed in recent years, including one eliminating the so-called marriage penalty and another maintaining the current 10 percent for the lowest income tax bracket.

Eight areas
In general, they named eight areas: health care security, bureaucratic red tape, lifelong learning, fair trade, tax relief, energy security, spurring innovation and ending lawsuit abuse.

The Republican-dominated House has already addressed many of these issues, only to see legislation stall in the Senate, where Democrats have greater ability to block bills they don’t like.

The House has previously approved bills limiting medical liability and class action lawsuits, and promoting associated health plans for small businesses. DeLay noted that enactment of an energy security bill passed by the House last year depended on Senate Democrats ending their resistance.

Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and three Democratic governors, meanwhile, blamed the Bush administration’s economic policies for what they called the hemorrhaging of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Pelosi, D-Calif., said 2.8 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since Bush took office and 1 million jobs have moved overseas.

'Longest job slump' since Depression
The nation is experiencing the “longest job slump since the Great Depression,” said Daschle, D-S.D. “The Republican response so far has been to do nothing.”

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said states need federal help to enforce international trade laws, fund workforce training and reduce rising pension and health care costs. “There’s a myth out there that states are not doing enough,” she said. “We need federal partners to prevent job losses.”

Evans, at the separate news conference, defended the administration’s trade enforcement policies, noting that the United States has filed twice as many anti-dumping cases against China as any other country.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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