Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is holding a rival jobs forum to match the White House's Thursday event, heading to Cincinnati, Ohio, on Wednesday for the start of a program he calls "a real jobs summit."
Gingrich, who is head of a political action group called "American Solutions," is widely known to be toying with a run for the presidency. The trip to Ohio, where unemployment is slightly higher than the national average of 10.2 percent, is the first in a series and will followed by a trip to Jackson, Miss.
In promoting the event, Gingrich's group is dismissing the event hosted by President Obama as "political theater."
"As the administration actively promotes job-killing health care, energy, and big labor legislation, millions of Americans struggling to find work won't be fooled by the political theater of a 'jobs summit,'" reads promotional material from his Web site.
According to the Gingrich job creation plan, he would first reduce payroll taxes by 50 percent for employers and employees to be paid for with unused TARP and "stimulus" money authorized late last year and early this year.
Gingrich also proposes allowing small businesses to expense 100 percent of new equipment purchases, abolishing the capital gains and estate taxes, reducing the corporate tax rate and balancing the budget by driving down spending and reforming government.
Obama announced his jobs forum shortly after the monthly jobless numbers showed the U.S. average topping 10 percent. He said he was planning the forum because "the economic growth that we've seen has not yet led to the job growth that we desperately need."
But expectations are being managed for the forum, which is featuring 130 guests, including business owners, experts from the green jobs sector, business leaders, academics, mayors and representatives from non-profit organizations.
The White House reportedly wants to discuss green job growth and shifting stimulus spending to infrastructure projects as well as a limited range of incentives for small businesses to create jobs.
But White House aides aren't predicting big outcomes.
"Hiring often takes time to catch up to economic growth," said Valerie Jarrett, an adviser on business issues to President Obama, according to The Wall Street Journal. "At the same time, there are limits to what government can and should do, even during such difficult times."
The White House on Monday morning posted a blog entry on its Web site encouraging citizens to hold their own discussion forums between now and Dec. 13, and to send back results to be complied for review in the Oval Office.
Accessing the sign-up page lets people insert their basic data and be reassured that the White House will e-mail "discussion questions and other materials to help make your event as productive as possible and give you instructions on to how to share your ideas with us."
The tactic has been used by the White House before, most notably during the health care debate, in instances when the administration can tap into its formidable grassroots support.
Obama, too, is headed out into the heartland, traveling to Allentown, in Pennsylvania's Lehigh County, where the unemployment rate stands at 9.5 percent.
The president's trip is the first stop on a so-called "White House to Main Street Tour" so he can, as the White House puts it, "spend some time out of Washington and take the temperature on what Americans are experiencing during these challenging economic times."