ABC News' John R. Parkinson reports:
After the Department of Labor reported Friday morning that the unemployment rate climbed to 9.8 percent and the country added a net total of only 39,000 jobs last month, the top leaders in the House of Representatives both called on Congress to do more to help regenerate the economy, but each leader had a contrasting scheme revolving around tax cuts to help stimulate the economic recovery.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, stated that Friday’s disappointing jobs report, which fell short of the 130,000 jobs gained that economists had forecast, is “a clear sign that there is more work to do to create jobs” and revitalize the economy — starting with the middle class.
“The best way to inject demand into our economy right now is to put money in the pockets of those that need it most and will spend it fastest – America’s middle class – and Republicans should join us immediately in that effort,” Pelosi said. “That means keeping in place unemployment insurance for Americans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own, which non-partisan studies have shown return two dollars in economic benefits for every dollar invested.”
Thursday afternoon, the House of Representatives passed a middle class tax cuts extension with a partisan vote split largely down party lines for individuals making up to $200,000 and couples making up to $250,000. The permanent extension received just three votes from House Republicans, while all but 20 House Democrat supported its passage.
The Senate is expected to vote on two separate amended versions of the House bill this weekend or Monday. Neither bill, however, is expected to gain enough support in the Senate to succeed.
Reacting to the Department of Labor’s jobs report, House Speaker-designate John Boehner stated this morning that “any sign of job growth in this struggling economy is encouraging,” but the uncertainty surrounding the tax rates for next year is preventing employers from adding to their payrolls in any significant manner. With today’s jobs data, there have been 7.5 million net jobs lost since the first month of the Great Recession in December 2007.
“Unfortunately, Democratic leaders continue to insist on wasting time with meaningless votes as they try to make it as difficult as possible to stop their job-killing tax hike,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “Our economy will ultimately recover, but it will do so because of hard work and entrepreneurship, not more of the same job-killing policies and spending binges.”
Boehner repeated his familiar call for Congress to cut spending and prevent all of the Bush-era tax cuts – including those for the highest income brackets — from expiring at the end of the year before Congress adjourns.
“Families and small businesses have had enough of politicians in Washington talking about creating jobs while doing everything in their power to kill more jobs,” Boehner said. “This is exactly the kind of Washington game-playing the American people voted against on Election Day. The lame-duck Congress should do the right thing and vote immediately to cut spending and stop all the tax hikes. If they don’t, the new House majority will in January.”
Pelosi, on the other hand, singled-out Senate Republicans for stonewalling and said that an extension for the highest earners would add $700 billion to the deficit while doing little to create job growth. Pelosi suggested Republicans abandon hope for a full extension of the tax cuts and that they go back to the drawing board to come up with new ideas to fuel the economic growth.
“Democrats have passed bills to create jobs, give the middle class the tools to keep the economy moving, and give employers the support to hire, grow, and thrive. Unfortunately they were opposed by Senate Republicans,” Pelosi said. “We are ready to work together on behalf of solutions that work for the American people, and we call on Republican leaders to offer serious proposals that create jobs and grow our economy.”
In the aftermath of a bipartisan, bicameral meeting with President Obama at the White House earlier this week, Pelosi and Boehner each assigned a top colleague to a newly created White House/Congressional Tax Negotiation team. Those negotiations, which include Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew, and a Republican and Democratic senator, are currently on hold as the Six-Pack is not expected to meet before the Senate votes on the middle class tax cuts extensions.