“We can do better.”
That was House Speaker John Boehner’s repeated reaction to Friday’s jobs report, which showed an encouraging surge in hiring last month.
At a press conference with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Boehner argued that even these positive numbers would be improved if the president encouraged Senate Democrats to “get off their rear ends” and pass House Republicans’ jobs proposals.
To completely ignore the positive numbers would make Republicans seem oblivious; they instead must argue that they could improve them.
“A few more Americans are at work, but we still have millions of Americans who are looking for work, and if the president would work with us, millions more Americans could be at work,” Boehner said.
Fellow Republicans followed Boehner’s lead.
”We welcome the fact that jobs were created and unemployment declined,” said former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in a statement. “Unfortunately, these numbers cannot hide the fact that President Obama’s policies have prevented a true economic recovery. We can do better.”
Romney highlighted the lack of movement in the ranks of the long-term unemployed and discouraged workers: “Nearly 24 million Americans remain unemployed, underemployed, or have just stopped looking for work.”
(Former House speaker Newt Gingrich said Friday afternoon that he had not seen the jobs numbers yet.)
“These numbers are encouraging, especially for those millions of Americans out of work, but we should aim even higher,” Cantor said in a statement. “We shouldn’t settle, we can do more, this is America.”
“I am encouraged by last month’s employment gains, but the facts don’t lie: President Obama’s policies have failed the American people and are making our economy worse,” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who co-chaired the deficit reduction supercomittee.
National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Paul Lindsay called unemployment “persistently high.”
Republicans have repeatedly argued that President Obama promised unemployment below 8 percent when he introduced his stimulus package in 2009. Obama never actually said this; the number comes from a projection issued by two administration aides.