White House Touts 162,000 New Jobs, Concedes Recovery Will Be Slow

It may have been the biggest increase in three years -- the addition of 162,000 jobs, as Friday's jobs report announced. But for millions of Americans, it doesn't mean that happy times are here again.

Although Cheryl Chua, a single mother of three, found a job as a hotel check-in clerk last month after being unemployed for two weeks, she says she still doesn't feel secure.

"Its still economywise paycheck to paycheck living ... even though you have a job," she said. "Actually I have a second job. I'm a wedding photographer as well."

Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Bill Clinton, said that fear is understandable.

"This is not a recovery yet. People are right now very scared, understandably, of getting their jobs back," Reich said in an interview with ABC News.

And while White House aides are pleased with Friday's report, they know the economy -- growing only three percent this year -- won't help millions of out-of-work Americans.

"That's not enough to get a lot of job growth. We'll get positive job growth. It'll be enough to probably bring the unemployment rate down a little bit. But you need faster than that to really make a dent," White House Council of Economic Advisors Chairwoman Christina Romer said today on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The president's top economic adviser, Larry Summers, also advised caution.

"We are in no position to rest or to be complacent," he said today on ABC's "This Week." Summers said he "expects the trend to be upwards," though he cautioned that there could be some bumps and "the numbers could fluctuate."

The slow recovery of the economy could be a political problem.

A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows that in just the past seven months voters have deserted Democrats and now believe by a slight margin that Republicans in Congress would do a better job on the economy. This could be bad news for Democrats come midterm elections this November.

"I don't think they have time for any real, meaningful economic growth to happen to change the public's view on confidence in the economy before the midterms. So I think it's still a huge albatross around the Democrats' neck," said Republican strategist and ABC News analyst Matthew Dowd.

Administration aides say they are optimistic Congress will pass financial regulatory reform this year, to prevent another bank meltdown in the future, despite Wall Street deploying lobbyists to stop or water-down reform.

Will Financial Reform Be Plagued with Partisan Bickering?

"You've got $1 million being spent per congressman in lobbying expenses on this issue. Industry has four lobbyists per member of the House and Senate working on this," Summers said.

But Arizona Republican Senator and minority whip Jon Kyl said it would be hard to pass financial regulatory reform under the current circumstances.

"As of right now, that too seems to be drifting in a very partisan direction. And if it does, it will be hard to pass," Kyl said on "Fox News Sunday."

Kyl said Republicans would support extending unemployment benefits but look carefully at any more spending plans.

"I think rather than supporting spending to stimulate job creation Republicans will prefer to look to things, for example, like tax relief," Kyl said.

Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Arlen Spector said he did not expect to garner any Republican support at all.

"Only one Republican, Sen. Corker, would step forward and negotiate with Chris Dodd," Specter said on Fox. Dodd is leading the Democrats' initiative in the Senate for financial regulatory reform.

Kyl did put forth some ideas: "If the president asked Congress tomorrow to give him a bill in a week that freezes all tax rates, doesn't even cut them, just holds them where they are and does not impose the $500-plus-billion in taxes in the health bill, I think you'd see the stock market skyrocket the next day because business would know that taxes will be stable and that they have the ability to raise capital and invest it in their businesses," Kyl said.

But whether a solution that is acceptable to both sides can be found is debatable, after the partisan rancor seen over health care reform.

Both Kyl and Spector say there are incentives to working together. Kyl said the majority of people support financial reform, whereas they do not support health care reform. And, Spector said, Republicans would face public discontent if they did not work with Democrats.

"Congress is in great disrepute by the American people, and with good cause, because of the gridlock of bipartisan bickering," Spector said. "And I think that many Republicans don't like to see their numbers go down," he said.

Surely, a prospect that neither party would like to see ahead of mid-term elections.

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