The June unemployment rate ticked up to 9.2 percent with only a paltry 18,000 new jobs created. Former Bush official Matt McDonald explains:
The underlying numbers were also terrible, with 272,000 workers dropping out of the labor force, downward revisions to previous months and a historic decline in the labor force participation rate to 64.1%.
The benchmark for the unemployment rate to get below 8% by Election Day was 217,000 going into today’s report (see the memo), but with a massive miss, that number is now projected to be 255,000. It is increasingly difficult to see how the economy can create an average of 255,000 jobs every month going forward, and with the clock ticking, the President now needs to think about how much time is left before the economic picture is set for the 2012 election.
As expected, the 2012 GOP presidential contenders pounced. Tim Pawlenty released a statement decrying President Obama’s economic policies: “President Obama is out of answers and running out of time. His policies are not creating the necessary jobs and he has no plan to do anything about it. We will have continued anemic growth and disappointing job creation so long as Barack Obama is president. I will turn around the economy as president by setting bold growth goals and implementing specific proposals to achieve them.”
Mitt Romney, who has been dueling directly with the White House, gets points for adding a personal — and personnel — touch:
Today’s abysmal jobs report confirms what we all know — that President Obama has failed to get this economy moving again. Just this week, President Obama’s closest White House adviser said that ‘unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers’ do not matter to the average American.
The jab was directed to David Plouffe, who opined that “The average American does not view the economy through the prism of GDP or unemployment rates or even monthly jobs numbers.” (That appallingly tone-deaf statement is likely to replace Obama’s own “bump in the road” remark.)
There is no way to spin the dreadful numbers, which come at a particularly inopportune time for the White House. The president has been demanding massive tax hikes in private, while passing the revenue increases off as no more than a tab for private jet owners. A top Republican House aide understatedly observed, “I’ve got to think that they strengthen the argument that the last thing the economy needs right now is tax hikes.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s communications director Don Stewart e-mailed me this:
In his December 17, 2010 speech before signing the bipartisan tax relief agreement, the President pointed out that a smaller tax burden on job creators not only helps them expand their business, but frees up other money to grow jobs. In other words, a smaller tax burden equals more jobs:
And millions of entrepreneurs who have been waiting to invest in their businesses will receive new tax incentives to help them expand, buy new equipment, or make upgrades — freeing up other money to hire new workers.
So, given the President’s insistence on raising hundreds of billions of dollars on job creators (LIFO repeal, etc.), it’s fair to ask: won’t that take away money that would let job creators expand and “hire new workers?”
Even the White House’s most ardent spinner, Marc Ambinder of the National Journal, bemoans that the White House “remains consistently surprised that the ‘slowdown’ of the recovery hasn’t been temporary. . . . And at some point, their ‘don’t look at just one month’s worth of data’ talking point rings hollow.” That point is now. Patience is certainly running low for Democrats. Matt Yglesias of Soros-backed Think Progress cracks: “White House should respond to weak jobs numbers with aggressive Twitter town hall strategy.” Indeed, the Mediscare onslaught and the president’s incessant partisanship and excuse-mongering (a failure to communicate!) now seem hugely inappropriate given the problems we face.
The Republican House leadership promptly canceled its July 18 recess and will no doubt continue its drumbeat of criticism that the Democratic Senate has gone 800 days without a budget.
In sum, the job news underscores the feeble state of the economy and the president’s increasingly perilous political status. If the latter encourages him to drop his failed economic policies and flawed objectives (e.g., tax hikes, more regulation, non-growth-producing government spending) and get on with a pro-growth, pro-jobs budget, he might improve both the economy and his own reelection prospects. In any event, the public is fast running out of patience for the president who told us to judge him by the results of his economic policies.