House Republican leaders seized on the news Friday morning that the U.S. unemployment rate remains at 9.1 percent, saying that that the country has stayed in an economic slump because President Obama is failing to lead.
“There were far too few jobs created this month, which shows the need to spend less time making campaign style speeches and more time trying to work together to identify policies that we both can agree will create an environment for job creation,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement.
Cantor also argued that both parties “need to work together to instill confidence and create an environment for growth, which means making it easier for job creators and entrepreneurs to begin investing, expanding and hiring again.”
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement that Friday’s jobs report “underscores the urgency for both parties to find common ground on common-sense solutions to create a better environment for private-sector job creation.”
“Our unemployment rate has been higher than eight percent for more than two-and-a-half years, far above what the Obama Administration promised with the ‘stimulus,’” Boehner said. “For many groups, including teenagers, Hispanics, and African Americans, the jobless rate is even higher. These sad numbers show that more Washington spending, threats of higher taxes on small businesses, and excessive government regulations don’t create a healthy environment for job growth.”
Democratic leaders searched for the silver lining. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called the latest jobs growth “stronger than expected but not nearly good enough when millions of Americans remain unemployed, and millions more are struggling to make ends meet.”
“Our job will not be complete until all Americans who want to work are able to find jobs and support their families,” he said.
The report comes as both chambers are battling over the $447 billion jobs package that Obama laid out last month. The Senate – after a contentious late-night session Thursday in which Democrats enacted an unprecedented rules change – is poised to vote Tuesday on the jobs package. But Cantor reiterated Thursday afternoon that the lower chamber will only take up the portions that Republicans support.
“We’re not going to bring up the president’s bill as a whole because we don’t believe in more taxes and higher spending,” Cantor said on the House floor.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement Friday that the new unemployment report underscores the urgent need for Congress to act on Obama’s entire jobs plan in order to jump-start the economy.
“Today’s report makes it clear: We must act now to put people back to work, strengthen our small businesses and grow our economy,” she said in a statement. “Americans cannot afford to wait any longer.”
On MSNBC Friday morning, economist Mark Zandi said that the new report highlights the urgency for the government to take action that will have near-term economic consequences, such as enacting Obama’s proposed payroll tax holiday for employees.
Reid pointed to Zandi’s remarks and said in his statement Friday that he “hopes Republicans will listen, and do the right thing for our economy by working with Democrats to create jobs.”