Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Posted: 09/05/2011 07:03:17 AM PDT

As Congress returns to session this week, Washington lawmakers agree that improving the national economy and creating jobs is the top priority.

President Barack Obama is slated to announce a new jobs plan to a joint session of Congress on Thursday.

He is expected to push lawmakers to support the rebuilding of the nation’s roads and bridges in an effort to help more than 1 million unemployed construction workers.

The administration last week was reviewing options that would provide tax breaks to employers who hire new employees – an approach that relies less on government intervention and massive public works projects to boost the economy.

Jack Pitney, politics professor at Claremont McKenna College, said Obama still faces political challenges moving forward.

“As far as increasing the deficit goes, a dollar of increased spending has the same effect as a dollar of tax cuts, but politically, a tax incentive is somewhat easier to pass than a spending increase,” Pitney said. “On that score, he has to worry about political support from the Democratic party. Anything that looks like a big giveaway to big corporations will be difficult to get through the Senate.”

Local representatives in Washington have a variety of ideas to spur job growth and the economy.

Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands, and Rep. David Dreier, R-San Dimas, urge the Senate and administration to move forward on trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, noting that exports have been a bright spot in the economy.

“These agreements will open up new markets for American goods and services and create both union and non-union jobs,” Dreier said. “They have lagged for far too long and it’s time to get them passed.”

Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, said larger companies should pay their fair share of taxes. Funds, he said, should be made available for development and construction in the area.

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