In the wake of a jobs report that showed unemployment remaining above eight percent and 368,000 potential employees dropping out of the workforce, Republicans and right-leaning commentators intent on seeing President Barack Obama retire after November’s election pounced Friday morning.
White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger put a positive spin on the numbers, saying in a statement that “[w]hile there is more work that remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.”
Here is a sampling of statements from the opposition.
Mitt Romney: “If last night was the party, this morning is the hangover. For every net new job created, nearly four Americans gave up looking for work entirely. This is more of the same for middle class families who are suffering through the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression.”
Tom Price, House Republican Policy Committee chairman and a Georgia congressman: “The unemployment rate isn’t simply a number. It is heartbreaking news for the millions of mothers and fathers who want so desperately to provide for their families, but cannot find work in our stalled economy. … We know that the key to jumpstarting America’s economic engine means empowering job creators and workers, not government. Only then can we return to prosperity.”
Roy Blunt, Missouri senator: “After 43 consecutive months with national unemployment above 8 percent, these jobs numbers once again confirm what millions of Americans already know: the Obama Economy isn’t working. … If we’re going to get people back to work, we must make the tough decisions to pass pro-growth tax policies, provide more certainty for job creators, and eliminate unnecessary red tape and over-regulation.”
Alex Schriver, College Republican National Committee chairman: “Despite the rhetoric, my generation feels forgotten by President Obama. At a point, the promises of ‘hope and change’ just sound like hot air. … It will take more than celebrity endorsements and the same stump speeches to get young people to the polls for him this November.”
Steven Law, president and CEO of American Crossroads: “Nearly 3.4 million students will earn a college degree this year, yet President Obama’s economy created only 96,000 jobs this month – not nearly enough to absorb all the new entrants into the workforce. … To get the economy moving and generate jobs for all of these new college graduates, we need a new approach that cuts the debt, stabilizes taxes, cuts regulations and increases energy production.”
Paul T. Conway, president, Generation Opportunity: “Young Americans are left holding the bag, feeling the sharp impact of this President’s failed policies in both their daily lives and the loss of their ability to plan for the future. There is a subtle message coming out of the White House that the lack of economic opportunity is due to a lack of training, education, or initiative on the part of Americans, but we know that is not true.”
Alan Tonelson, U.S. Business and Industry Council research fellow: “This morning’s disappointing jobs report once again shows that private sector hiring in the United States is still overly dependent on employment gains in industries heavily subsidized by government spending — notably health care services. … [S]ince the recovery technically began in June, 2009, jobs in the subsidized private sector have accounted for fully 37.47 percent of the total gain in nonfarm employment.”
James Pethokoukis, American Enterprise Institute money & politics columnist: “If labor force rate had just stayed same as last month, unemployment rate would be 8.4%.”
President Obama has his defenders, though, and they are interpreting the latest jobs numbers in a positive light.
Center for American Progress Action Fund senior economist Heather Boushey, for instance, said in a statement that “August marked the 30th straight month of private-sector job gains. … With the fiscal cliff looming at the end of the year and Europe teetering on recession, employers need to see Republican leaders in Congress step up and act to boost employment, rather than acting as they have been by paring back spending before the economy has fully recovered.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the last president to be re-elected amid an unemployment rate over eight percent.