House Republicans Push Counter-Proposal on Stimulus

Far from rolling over, House Republican leaders are trying to win concessions from President Obama over the massive economic stimulus package and have proffered a bill of their own to put on the negotiating table.

The counter-package, which is separate from a substitute amendment already proposed by House Republicans, would shift focus entirely from spending to tax relief. Though a full House vote on the Democratic package is expected in a matter of hours and President Obama said he's confident it will pass, GOP lawmakers are hoping their proposal at least influences the final product.

In a brief session with reporters Wednesday, Republicans panned the $825 billion proposal under consideration as a "non-stimulus" bill chock full of gift-wrapped spending items.

"People are recognizing very quickly that's it's not one, stimulative, and two, it's full of all sorts of things that are sort of favorite political projects of the Democrat majority," said Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., chairman of the Republican Study Committee.

"If government spending was going to get us out of this mess, we'd have been out a long time ago, because that's all we've been doing," said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. "This is not going to work. That's why we've got a bill we think will work."

Their bill, called the Economic Recovery and Middle-Class Tax Relief Act of 2009, promises a host of tax-cutting measures. It includes a 5 percent "across the board" income tax cut; an increase in the child tax credit from $1,000 to $5,000; a freeze on capital gains and dividends tax rates at 15 percent; and a number of other measures targeted toward businesses.

The Republicans authoring the alternative bill did not have an estimate for the cost of their counter-proposal, but Price said so far the bill has 65 co-sponsors.

Republicans said they're not just trying to make a political point, but put forward a proposal that reflects the wishes of their constituents.

"Bipartisan does not mean that either side should be giving up what their principles are," said Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J.

The Democratic bill due for a House vote Wednesday includes about $550 billion in spending and about $275 billion in tax cuts.

Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Rep. David Camp, R-Mich., have also proposed a substitute amendment to the Democratic bill that would strip almost all of the existing language and add income tax rate deductions, alternative minimum tax relief, small business deductions and other measures.

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., said Wednesday that Republicans are "finding their voice" on the debate and "getting in the fight."

He and House Minority Leader John Boehner dismissed the Democratic proposal as a partisan grab bag driven by "old liberal spending priorities."

"The Democratic bill won't stimulate anything but more government and more debt," Boehner said. "Americans need this bill to work."

Republicans won a few concessions, as Democrats deleted $20 million meant to re-sod the National Mall in D.C., and stripped about $200 million for contraceptive services. But that's not enough say Republicans, who said they felt Obama had reached out to them in meetings a day earlier on Capitol Hill and were hopeful the new president would at least incorporate some of their ideas. Obama said Tuesday that lawmakers should put politics aside and pass a stimulus for the sake of the American economy.

FOX News' Mosheh Oinounou contributed to this report.