World and Nation

Obama hands Congress a five-point economic to-do list

WASHINGTON — With a polarized Congress already on the defensive, President Barack Obama on Tuesday will outline a five-point “to do” list for lawmakers that packages job creation and mortgage relief ideas he has proposed before, administration officials say.

Obama will present the election-year list during a visit to a university science complex in Albany, N.Y. The components of his challenge to Congress — and to the Republican-led House in particular — will be a feature of his appearances throughout the spring, aides said.

For example, while in Reno, Nev., during a trip West this week mostly to raise campaign money, Obama will push one of the proposals, to allow more families who are current on their mortgages to refinance at lower interest rates. Nevada, a swing state critical to his re-election, is among the places hit hardest by the housing bust.

The president’s pitch Tuesday, at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the State University of New York, will underscore the obstructions he has faced from Republicans, and at a time when critics across the political spectrum are assailing a “do-nothing Congress.”

But Obama is at some risk of seeming impotent in the face of his opposition, and House Republicans complain that their own ideas have languished in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

“I don’t think Congress will act because the president says Congress must act,” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said Monday, without describing the proposals Obama would push. “I think the Congress will act because the people that sent them here are insisting that they act.”

Each lawmaker, he said, “has to explain to his or her constituents what they did while they were in Washington these past two years. Did they just say no? Did they just block every effort put forward to help the economy grow and create jobs? Or did they actually try to work constructively to get something done?”

Several of the proposals Obama is demanding are business tax cuts. One would provide a 20 percent tax credit for companies that move overseas operations back to the United States; the revenue cost would be offset by eliminating deductions for companies’ costs of relocating business abroad.

A proposed 10 percent income tax credit would go to small businesses that add employees or increase wages, and Obama would extend through this year a measure allowing businesses to write off the full cost of investments in equipment.