President Barack Obama sought to highlight the positive notes in Friday's generally disappointing job creation figures.
The figures, released by the Labor Department, showed that the economy added a net 80,000 jobs in June, with 84,000 new private sector jobs offsetting the loss of 4,000 government positions. Economists had expected an increase of about 100,000 jobs.
The private sector job numbers, Obama said, showed that although the economy is still tough, the efforts of workers retraining for new jobs and small businesses adapting to a changing market are paying off.
"We learned this morning that our businesses created 84,000 new jobs last month, and that overall means that businesses have created 4.4 million new jobs over the past 28 months, including 500,000 new manufacturing jobs," Obama said. "That's a step in the right direction."
He added, "But we can't be satisfied, because our goal was never to just keep on working to get back to where we were back in 2007. … We've got to grow the economy even faster and we've got to put even more people back to work."
Obama said during a campaign appearance in Ohio his primary goal in seeking a second term was to keep the country moving forward.
"What's holding us back right now is not that we don't have good answers for how we could grow the economy faster or put more people back to work," he said. "The problem is we've got a stalemate in Washington."
He added, "This election is about how we break that stalemate. And the good news is it's in your power to break this stalemate."
Obama said that his opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and Romney's allies in Congress are focused on ideas that simply will not work, by giving tax breaks to the wealthy, gutting regulations that would prevent reckless behavior on Wall Street and cutting government programs.
"Their basic idea is if everybody is just on their own, doing what they do, everything is going to turn out just fine," Obama said. "We tried it in the decade before I took office. And let's look at what happened. We saw us fighting two wars on a credit card. The tax cuts turned a surplus into a deficit. And the lack of regulation resulted in what happened on Wall Street, and we ended up with the biggest crisis that we've ever seen."
He added, "We just tried it, and it didn't work. And you know, if you look throughout our history, that kind of top-down economics has never worked."
Democrats in Congress were also swift to blame Republicans for blocking measures that might have created more jobs.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that Republicans were more focused on political grandstanding than serious efforts to improve the economy.
"As this report clearly shows, it's time to move on and focus on jobs," Reid said. "To help spark the growth we need, the Senate will move next week to vote on a series of common-sense jobs bills, starting with a tax cut for small businesses that is designed to reward hiring and provide incentives for payroll growth."
He added, "Unless Republicans are truly rooting for our economy to fail, there is simply no reason for them to oppose such common-sense jobs measures."
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., also focused on the fact that the economy has added jobs in the private sector for more than two years.
"Next week, instead of working on legislation to create jobs and grow our economy, Republicans' misguided priorities will be on full display as they pursue yet another fruitless vote to repeal the cost-saving health reform law enacted in 2010," he said. "Their do-nothing approach to jobs, which favors confrontation over compromise, has placed a stumbling block in front of businesses desperate for Congress to restore an environment of certainty."
Hoyer added, "I continue to call on them to turn their attention to finding solutions to the challenges that matter to the American people."
by RTT Staff Writer
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