In their respective Saturday morning radio addresses, President Barack Obama lashed out at Congress for not running with his job creation proposals — while the GOP criticized Obama for pushing a tax on the wealthy.
The finger-pointing follows a bleak Friday where the stock market suffered its worst day of the year after a surprisingly weak report about hiring and employment cast a pall of gloom over the U.S. economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 275 points.
The Labor Department said the economy produced only 69,000 jobs in May, the fewest in a year. The unemployment rate rose from 8.1 percent to 8.2 percent. No president since Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Great Depression has won a new term with joblessness that high, according to a report by the Associated Press.
Bottom line: There was more than enough motivation for the President to try and put the best spin possible on the untimely bad news.
“I sent Congress a jobs bill last September full of the kinds of bipartisan ideas that would have put our fellow Americans back to work and helped reinforce our economy against those outside shocks,” Obama said in his radio address. “I sent them a plan that would have reduced the deficit by $4 trillion in a way that’s balanced — that pays for the job-creating investments we need by cutting unnecessary spending and asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes.”
Noting that Congress did in fact act on his payroll tax cut, the President went on to challenge: “Congress hasn’t acted on enough of the other ideas in that bill that would make a difference and help create jobs right now. So my message to Congress is: get to work.”
In the GOP rebuttal, National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman John Cornyn of Texas blasted back: “President Obama has opted for fear and envy, and the Democratic Senate Majority Leader Reid is scheduling political show votes. Meanwhile, millions of American workers remain unemployed, and our biggest national problems loom large without the leadership Americans deserve.”
Cornyn charged that Democrats are promoting "gimmicks" and unless Congress and Obama act, Americans will deal with a tax increase of nearly $500 billion. He warned the tax hike could push the nation back into recession.
“If you're a business owner, why would you hire new employees or make substantial investments if you don’t know what your tax rates will be on January 1?” Cornyn asked. “Why would you expect the economy to improve when President Obama has repeatedly indicated his belief that the problem is not that the federal government spends too much but that taxes are too low?”
For his part, Obama prodded Capitol Hill to get to work on the:
- highway funding bill,
- small business tax break proposal,
- clean energy tax credit,
- closing of corporate loopholes that reward outsourcers,
- creation of tax incentives to companies that bring jobs to America.
“It’s not lost on anyone, least of all me, that this is an election year. But we’ve got responsibilities that are bigger than an election,” Obama said. “With so many people struggling to get by, now is not the time to play politics. Now is not the time for Congress to sit on its hands. The American people expect their leaders to work hard, no matter what year it is. That’s what I intend to do. And I expect Democrats and Republicans to join me.”
However, Cornyn charged that Obama was lacking in meaningful leadership that would give meaningful results on the economic front -- like pushing to “lower the rates and broaden the base. That would make our tax system more logical, more efficient and more conducive to strong economic growth.”
"Republicans have made clear our position: We’re eager to prevent the largest tax increase in American history, and we don't see any reason for delay. We sincerely hope the president will work with us to save jobs, protect family incomes, and strengthen the economy,” Cornyn added.
Cornyn’s remarks were somewhat milder than the GOP cannons fired Friday. House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor unleashed on President Obama and Democrats for low jobs report, calling the numbers “pathetic.” “The American people deserve better,” said Boehner.
On Saturday, more than one pundit suggested that while Americans overwhelmingly rate jobs as what matters most, there is still time before the election for the outlook to improve.
Five more monthly unemployment reports are due — the last coming just four days before the Nov. 6 election.
“The fall numbers will mean more when voters head to the polls,” noted a report in the New York Daily News.
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