President Barack Obama responded to reports of slow job growth Friday by blaming Republicans who have opposed parts of his economic agenda.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report found the economy added 242,000 new jobs in February. The latest number highlights a long-running trend of slow, yet positive, economic growth. Obama credits the growth to his agenda but its slowness to Republicans for their opposition to his plan.
“The plans that we have put in place to grow the economy have worked,” the president declared in the Oval Office. “They would work even faster if we did not have the kind of obstruction that we’ve seen in this town to prevent additional policies that would make a difference. And there is going to be a debate going on around the budget in the coming months.”
The president entered office in the midst of a severe economic downturn which has since been referred to as the Great Recession — a time period sparked by the subprime mortgage crisis and the financial crisis of 2007. The recovery took years to begin and has since been incredibly slow.
“Republicans in Congress are, sadly, trying to cut some of the investments that could spur additional growth,” the president continued. “They are blocking things like an increase in the minimum wage, or more robust investment in jobs training, infrastructure, education that can continue to lift up wages and incomes.”
Obama has proposed a number of policies that are highly debated. His opposition has noted concern that his platform may actually be hindering growth as opposed to helping it. The minimum wage for instance could help lower-income individuals receive more pay, but it could also force businesses to cutback on their workforce to overcome the added cost of labor. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found any increase of the minimum wage will likely result in at least some job loss.
Education funding is another highly debated policy topic because much of the budget doesn’t actually go to teaching children. A significant percentage of school budgets often go to huge pension funds. Teachers unions are some of the most powerful labor groups in the country, making pension reform incredibly difficult.
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