Reid, Dems unveil 'competitiveness agenda'

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Harry Reid on Wednesday gathered a suite of bills into a "competitiveness agenda" that Democrats said would spur innovation and job growth.

The Senate majority leader from Nevada and other party leaders unveiled the package that consisted of some legislation already in the pipeline and others re-branded to emphasize their potential to create jobs and modernize the work force.

On the tax front, goals include passage of bills to expand research and development tax credits, renew tax credits for companies that build capacity to make use of wind and solar energy, and make permanent tax credits for college tuition.

In other areas, Democrats want to advance job-training and work sharing, develop a Clean Energy Deployment Administration and strengthen cybersecurity.

The Democrats contrasted their agenda with the actions by Republicans in the U.S. House who were engaged Wednesday in cutting spending about $60 billion below current levels, including reductions in a number of popular programs that Democrats charge will stifle growth.

"We believe there should be some cuts in spending," Reid said. "We are criticizing Republicans for what they are doing because what they are doing is cutting with a meat ax."

Reid said Senate Democrats will accept President Barack Obama's five-year overall "freeze" on discretionary domestic spending that still allows for increases in priority programs. The White House says that will save $400 billion over 10 years.

"Our agenda is in keeping with the president's framework," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "Win the future by out-innovating, out-education and out-building" competitors.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at or 202-783-1760.