Republicans immediately sought today to capitalize on the new unemployment numbers to press their argument that President Obama's economic stimulus package is failing.
The Labor Department reported today that the jobless rate rose to 9.7 percent last month from 9.4 percent in July after 216,000 more Americans lost their jobs. It is the highest rate since 1983, and analysts say it shows that while the economy is improving, a sustained recovery will be difficult at best.
UPDATE: Vice President Joe Biden, who on Thursday led the cheerleading for the $787 billion stimulus package, said this afternoon that the administration will not be satisfied until "we're adding, not losing, thousands of jobs a month."
He cited an analysis that the stimulus package saved or created at least 500,000 jobs in its first 200 days, a milestone that hits Saturday -- or in other words, that another 500,000 jobs would have been lost without the recovery package.
Biden spoke as he announced a $535 million loan guarantee for a Fremont, Calif., company that makes solar panels. “This announcement today is part of the unprecedented investment this Administration is making in renewable energy and exactly what the Recovery Act is all about,” Biden said in a statement. “By investing in the infrastructure and technology of the future, we are not only creating jobs today, but laying the foundation for long-term growth in the 21stcentury economy.”
But Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele beat him to the punch.
“Yesterday, Vice President Biden gave yet another speech to try to convince the American people that President Obama’s stimulus bill is creating the jobs he promised. In fact, Vice President Biden said that he believes the Administration has ‘met or exceeded’ their goal to create or save 600,000 jobs in the past 100 days. Today’s unemployment report proves that this Administration is ignoring reality," Steele said in a statement.
"The unemployment rate jumped to 9.7 percent. More than 216,000 Americans lost their jobs in the month of August alone. That means more than 3 million Americans have lost their jobs since the president took office. The president’s economic experiment simply isn’t working, and Americans shouldn’t expect his government-run health care experiment to work, either.”
Not a single House Republican voted for the stimulus bill, and Representative John Boehner, the GOP leader in the House, chimed in with his own statement that also tried to use the jobless numbers to continue his assault on Obama's health care overhaul plans.
"Where are the jobs? Approximately 2.4 million private-sector jobs have been destroyed since February 2009. In light of these numbers, it is more clear than ever that the President and the leaders of his party in Congress need to abandon their plans for a job-killing government takeover of health care and work with Republicans for a more responsible approach to health care reform. The Democrats' bloated 'stimulus' isn't working, and we can't afford another trillion-dollar mistake on the backs of our children and small businesses," Boehner said.
"It is increasingly clear that as a consequence of this administration's misguided policies, any economic recovery that lies ahead will be a jobless one hampered by massive new debt. This is not what the American people were promised; nor is it what they deserve. Better solutions were offered in good faith by Republicans but rejected by the Administration in favor of what has proven to be a trillion-dollar mistake. The Administration said its bloated 'stimulus' would create millions of jobs and keep the unemployment rate from going above 8 percent. Instead, unemployment has now soared to nearly 10 percent, millions of jobs have disappeared, and massive new debt has been needlessly piled on future generations," Boehner continued.
"Washington Democrats must listen to the American people and abandon their plans to impose a job-killing government takeover of health care and a new job-killing national energy tax. Both will inflict further harm on small businesses and wipe out millions of additional American jobs, compounding the costly mistake of the flawed 'stimulus.’ It’s time for the President to hit the reset button and work with Republicans for better solutions, before more debt is piled on our children and more American jobs are destroyed."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.