Democrats and Republicans are working to blame each other's policies for a lackluster May U.S. jobs report, cementing the critiques that will reverberate through the general election in November.
Anemic job growth of 69,000 pushed the unemployment rate to 8.2 percent and led economists to revise downwards their estimates for the number of jobs added in previous months. Republicans quickly seized on the data as an indictment of President Barack Obama's economic stewardship, which will likely be the defining issue of the 2012 presidential election.
Saying the American people are in a desperate spot, Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, charged that the policies that we've seen aren't working. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., called the numbers pathetic, and likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney called the numbers devastating.
Romney Doesn't Mince Words
It is now clear to everyone that President Obama's policies have failed to achieve their goals and that the Obama economy is crushing America's middle class, Romney said in a statement.
Republican leadership accused President Obama of being too preoccupied by campaigning to address the faltering economic recovery and said Democrats have failed to work with them. They argued that excessive regulation -- including the health care overhaul -- and the prospect of a year-end tax increase when the Bush tax cuts expire are impeding business.
I believe the stimulus you need is a signal to the private sector that it's actually a good time to take a risk and invest right now, Cantor said on CNBC's Squawk Box.
Meanwhile, Democrats framed the sputtering recovery as a casualty of Republican obstructionism. They pointed in particular to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives rejecting a Senate bill that would have authorized two years of transportation funding. Congress settled instead for a short-term funding extension, the latest in a series of temporary stop-gaps reaching back to 2009.
With today's jobs report, it's clear that we have work to do, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said at a press briefing in the Capitol, according to the Hill.com. We have an answer to this, and that is to pass the [Senate] transportation bill, Pelosi added, noting that the legislation would generate more construction jobs.
The charge carries an echo of President Obama's abortive push last summer for a jobs package, part of which was billions of dollars in funding for more infrastructure projects. While Obama traveled the country criticizing Republican intransigence and exhorting Congress to pass this jobs bill, Republicans rejected the legislation because they said it would add to the already bloated deficit.