President Obama says the private sector is doing fine, even as the unemployment rate is rising and there are increasing signs of a weakening of the economy.
In response to a question today after the he spoke about the economy and urged Congress to act quickly on his policies, the president touted his own efforts and blamed Republicans in Congress for not doing enough.
Almost immediately, his rival in the 2012 race, Mitt Romney, accused Obama of being out of touch on the economy.
Romney, holding a campaign event in Council Bluffs, Iowa, said Obama's remark was "defining what it means to be detached and out of touch with the American people." He said the comment "is going to go down in history as an extraordinary miscalculation and misunderstanding."
Obama lauded his record of job creation, saying that his administration had created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, and over 800,00 this year.
"The private sector is doing fine. Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government. Oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, Governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don't have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in," Obama said.
"And so, you know, if Republicans want to be helpful, if they really want to move forward and put people back to work, what they should be thinking about is how do we help state and local governments and how do we help the construction industry? Because the recipes that they're promoting are basically the kinds of policies that would add weakness to the -- to the economy, would result in further layoffs, would not provide relief in the housing market, and would result, I think most economists estimate, in lower growth and fewer jobs, not more. "
Obama pressed Congress to enact parts of his jobs agenda, including proposals to help state governments rehire teachers, police officers and firefighters.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., also took Obama to task over his comments.
"Are you kidding?" asked Cantor, "Did he see the job numbers that came out last week? The private sector is not doing fine."
The episode also followed Republican Gov. Scott Walker's victory in a Democratic-led, union-backed recall effort in Wisconsin, and Romney's lead over Obama in May fundraising. Romney's campaign and the Republican National Committee said Thursday they had raised more than $76 million combined in May, surpassing the $60 million haul by the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
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