President Obama is pushing Congress to speed up a variety of jobs bills in the wake of disappointing employment numbers.
“Today’s job report confirms what most Americans already know: we still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to give people the security and opportunity they deserve,” Obama said in a statement on the White House lawn.
The numbers for June were far worse than expected as the economy added an anemic 18,000 jobs, pushing the unemployment rate up to 9.2%.The private sector accounted for 57,000 new jobs, but the total was dragged down by 39,000 public sector layoffs. The dismal report comes after a disappointing May, which raised concerns the recovery may be stalling on the employment side at least. As if thing weren’t bad enough, the latest report revised the May and April numbers downward by 44,000 combined jobs.
The president attributed some of the difficulties to “tough headwinds” in recent months, including natural disasters at home and abroad, rising gas prices, and a default crisis in Greece. In a jab at Republicans, he also cited “uncertainty” from the debt limit vote as a drag on business investment. He called on Congress to quickly pass legislation extending a payroll tax cut passed in December, approve pending trade agreements, and invest in infrastructure in order to help put unemployed construction workers back to work.
“The economic challenges we face weren’t created overnight and they aren’t going to be solved overnight, but the American people expect us to act on every single good idea that’s out there.”
Republicans pounced on the numbers as evidence his policies have failed to jump start the economy.
“The American people are still asking the question: where are the jobs?” Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. “Today’s report is more evidence that the misguided ‘stimulus’ spending binge, excessive regulations, and an overwhelming national debt continue to hold back private-sector job creation in our country.”
The numbers will likely become the talk of the presidential field as well. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) quickly released a statement calling the jobs report “another stark reminder of the failure of President Obama’s economic policies.” She added a dig at the coming debt limit increase, which she has said she won’t vote for under any circumstances.
“Amidst this economic freefall, it should not be lost that the architect of the President’s failed economic policies, Timothy Geithner, will head for the door after he attempts to cement the President’s legacy of massive spending and debt by raising the debt limit another $2.4 trillion dollars,” Bachmann said. “We can only hope that the President will be right behind him after the next election.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) accused Republicans of blocking measures in Congress that could help spur job creation and for threatening the recovery by using a potential debt ceiling default as leverage in a deficit deal.
“I hope the news that our economy is not creating jobs at an acceptable rate will cause Republicans to start taking job creation seriously,” he said in a statement. “So far this year, Republicans have derailed every common-sense, bipartisan jobs bill we have brought to the floor. Democrats will continue to fight to put Americans back to work and we hope Republicans will join us.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took a similar tack as well.
“Democrats know that creating jobs must be job number one for this Congress, yet Republicans continue to push their plan to end Medicare in order to give billions in tax breaks to Big Oil and corporations that ship American jobs overseas,” she said in a statement. “And now, they are putting our entire economy at risk - by threatening to let our nation default for the first time, injecting uncertainty into the economy, and demanding we balance our budget on the backs of seniors and the middle class.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.