BALTIMORE — President Obama will speak here today to Republicans from the House of Representatives, who voiced skepticism Thursday about his call for bipartisanship in his State of the Union address and vowed to continue opposing his agenda unless he — not they — changes course.
On the opening day of a two-day House GOP retreat in Baltimore, Republican leaders said that Obama must do more than invite them to have a discussion, offer to cut capital gains taxes for small businesses and sing the praises of offshore drilling and nuclear energy to get their cooperation on contentious issues such as health care.
"We're going to continue to go down the same path this year," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said before the retreat opened. "We're going to look for common ground, but we're not going to roll over on our principles."
Obama is expected to repeat his bipartisanship plea today.
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While in Baltimore, Obama also plans a visit to a local business to announce details of a small-business jobs incentives package that he touched on in his State of the Union address.
He'll call for businesses to get a $5,000 tax credit for every net new employee hired this calendar year. While large companies also could take that benefit, credits would be capped at $500,000 per firm, primarily to help small firms. Small businesses also would get some tax relief to offset raises on most employees' wages.
The proposal would cost $33 billion and could be available to more than 1 million small businesses, said a senior administration official.
The president also is hoping the incentives will win bipartisan support because of Republicans' loyalty to small business owners.
Republican leaders said they liked some elements of Obama's bipartisanship overture, particularly the president's positive remarks about offshore drilling and nuclear power.
"I don't think I've heard the president be more forceful when it comes to the expansion of nuclear energy in the United States," Boehner said. "So we'll see . . . how that will manifest itself in legislation."