Mitt Romney addressed the press 90 minutes after the BLS released the June jobs report, and hammered Barack Obama for his economic policies and ObamaCare. “This kick in the gut has to end,” Romney told the press, and during a question-and-answer period put a large amount of the blame on ObamaCare. “When three-quarters of small businesses say that ObamaCare is keeping them from hiring,” Romney replied, “it shows that President Obama has put his liberal agenda ahead of job creation.” We’ll add the transcript and the video as soon as they’re available, but the “kick in the gut” line is new, and the tone was somber while the content was aggressive. Furthermore, the pressure will be on Obama to take some questions after his statement coming up shortly, as Romney did — and as Obama has been loathe to do.
The White House issued a response to the jobs report, which underscored the weakness of their economic argument. Even Politico found it weak, headlining it as “WH: at least the economy is still growing”:
“The economy has now added private sector jobs for 28 straight months, for a total of 4.4 million payroll jobs during that period,” Alan Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, wrote in a statement. “Employment is growing but it is not growing fast enough given the jobs deficit caused by the deep recession.”
The jobs report showed the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.2 percent in June, while the economy added 80,000 jobs, roughly the same as in May.
The problem with this statement is that the recovery started 37 months ago, not 28. The US lost about 2 million jobs between the start of the recovery and the arbitrary starting point the White House uses, February 2010. Overall, the US economy has gained about 2.4 million in 37 months of recovery for a pathetic average of just under 65,000 jobs a month, about half of what is needed to keep up with population growth.
The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza isn’t buying the White House line, either:
The news from the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning that the economy added just 80,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate stayed stuck at 8.2 percent suggests that any hope that President Obama will be able to run for reelection bolstered by an improving financial picture is rapidly disappearing.
While the June report is bad news in and of itself for Obama’s political prospects, it’s the broader trend line that it reaffirms that should be of the most concern to the White House.
This is the third straight month in which the jobs report has underwhelmed. The 80,000 jobs added — well below expectations in the run-up to this morning’s report — comes after the economy added 68,000 and 77,0000 jobs in April and May, respectively. June’s 8.2 percent unemployment rate is the same as it was in May and a slight bump up from the 8.1 percent rate in April.
That three-month view suggests that June may be less an anomaly in a broader period of (slow)economic recovery than an indication of the new normal in a period of economic flatness.
The “summer swoon” is back, Cillizza writes — and with it any chance of competing on the biggest issues for voters in this election, jobs and the economy.
Update: CNN has a fresh report on Romney’s statement:
“The highest corporate tax rates in the world do not create jobs,” Romney said. “Highest regulatory burdens in our nation’s history – those do not create jobs. Trade policies that have not opened up new markets for American goods, particularly in Latin America, those don’t create new jobs. Failing to effectively crack down on China for cheating and stealing American jobs, that has not helped.”
“The president’s policies have not gotten America working again, and the president’s going to have to stand up and take responsibility for it,” Romney continued. …
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” Romney said. “The president doesn’t have a plan. He hasn’t proposed any new ideas to get the economy going. Just the same old ideas of the past that have failed. I have a plan. My plan calls for action that will get America working again and create good jobs, both near term and long term.”
Update II: The campaign has now posted the video and the transcript:
“American families are struggling. There is a lot of misery in America today, and these numbers understate what people are feeling and the amount of pain which is occurring in middle-class America. Not only is the 8.2 percent number unacceptably high and one that’s been in place now for over 41 months, but in addition, if you look at the broader analysis of people who are out of work or have dropped out of the workforce or that are underemployed in part-time jobs needing full-time work, it’s almost 15 percent of the American public. And then there are those that are working, but are working in jobs well beneath their skill level or working in multiple part-time jobs; kids that are coming out of college not being able to find work; veterans coming home not being able to do anything but stand in an unemployment line. These are very difficult times for the American people.
“There are other numbers that are troubling. The manufacturing reports of the last several weeks indicate that manufacturing is not growing either domestically or in our exports as we would have expected at this stage. And of course that’s a long-term trend that is very disturbing and troubling. The President’s policies have clearly not been successful in reigniting this economy, in putting people back to work, in opening up manufacturing plants across the country. The heartland industries where manufacturing occurs are struggling by virtue of policies on the part of the President that have not worked. The highest corporate tax rates in the world do not create jobs; highest regulatory burdens in our nation’s history—those do not create jobs; trade policies that have not opened up new markets for American goods, particularly in Latin America—those don’t create new jobs; failing to effectively crack down on China for cheating and stealing American jobs—that has not helped. The president’s policies have not gotten America working again. And the president is going to have to stand up and take responsibility for it. I know he’s been planning on going across the country and celebrating what he calls ‘forward.’ Well, forward doesn’t look a lot like forward to the millions and millions of families that are struggling today in this great country. It doesn’t have to be this way. The President doesn’t have a plan, hasn’t proposed any new ideas to get the economy going—just the same old ideas of the past that have failed.
“I have a plan. My plan calls for action that will get America working again and create good jobs, both near-term and long-term. It includes finally taking advantage of our energy resources, building the Keystone pipeline, making sure we create energy jobs, and we convince manufacturers that energy will be available and low cost in America. It means opening up new markets for American trade, particularly in Latin America where the opportunities are extraordinary. It means cracking down on China when they cheat and making sure they don’t steal our jobs unfairly. It means bringing our tax rates down—our marginal tax rates down—and cutting out the exemptions and deductions and loopholes that are unfair in many cases. In other cases, we’re going to limit those deductions and exemptions, so that we maintain our revenue through growth and through limiting of these special deals, but bring our tax rates down so they’re competitive and attractive for jobs to come back to America. It means having a government that sees its role as encouraging enterprise rather than crushing it with the burden of new and unnecessary regulation and with outmoded regulations that haven’t been cleaned up in years and years. And finally it means having a healthcare plan that focuses on bringing down the cost of healthcare for American families, not just adding new expenses and new taxes to the American people.
“This is a time for America to choose whether they want more of the same; whether unemployment above 8 percent month after month after month is satisfactory or not. It doesn’t have to be this way. America can do better and this kick in the gut has got to end.”
Obama, meanwhile, called today’s report “a step in the right direction.” Er ….