Republicans Attack Obama on Economy After Employment Slows

Republicans yesterday attacked President Barack Obama’s handling of the U.S. economy, saying recent reports suggest it’s weakening, while Democratic defenders urged patience.

“There are almost a half a million more people unemployed today than four years ago,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a television interview on “Fox News Sunday,” two days after the Labor Department reported the worst quarter for corporate hiring in more than two years. “Fire Obama and hire Romney. That’s the best stimulus program for the country.”

As the November presidential election approaches and voters’ views of Obama’s performance solidify, the economy is lacking the job growth needed to bring down the unemployment rate. Joblessness, which held at 8.2 percent in June, has exceeded 8 percent since February 2009, the longest such stretch since monthly records began in 1948.

The Labor Department’s figures showed employers added 80,000 jobs last month, less than the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey, after a 77,000 increase in May. Payrolls excluding government agencies rose 84,000 after a 105,000 gain in May.

Obama, speaking July 6 at a campaign stop in Poland, Ohio, said the new jobs were “a step in the right direction” though the economy has to grow “even faster.” Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called the jobs report “another kick in the gut.”

Not Working

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said the economy needs to be the focus of the campaign. What Obama is doing “is not working” and discouraging private businesses from boosting payrolls, he said.

Democratic defenders of the White House said yesterday the severity of the financial crisis that sent unemployment to 10 percent in 2009 will require more time for a full recovery.

“We faced the biggest job losses since the Great depression,” Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” That’s what George W. Bush and his failed policies left to us.”

Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said on “Fox News Sunday” that the addition last month of more automobile manufacturing jobs, important to industrial Midwest states such as Ohio, was an encouraging sign of recovery.

Lengthy Recovery

“It takes a while to dig out of that hole,” said former White House spokesman and Obama campaign aide Robert Gibbs on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. Gibbs also attacked Romney, accusing him of outsourcing U.S. jobs when he was at Boston-based Bain Capital LLC, which he co-founded.

Romney’s experience “has been in owning companies that were called ‘pioneers of outsourcing,’” Obama said July 5 while campaigning in Maumee, Ohio. Polls show that linking Romney to the outsourcing of U.S. jobs is an effective approach with voters in the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, where Obama will end the trip.

Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the election will ultimately be a referendum on Obama’s record.

“Obama’s economic policies and failure to make the economy grow, create jobs, is going to be the first thing,” he said.