It has essentially become a monthly ritual: the Bureau of Labor and Statistics releases its monthly jobs data on the first Friday of each month and in short order politicians from both sides of the aisle search for something positive to highlight about the report before blaming their political opponents for not doing enough to create jobs.
The latest batch of economic statistics was released this morning at 8:30 a.m., showing the country added 117,000 jobs last month while shedding one-tenth of a point off the unemployment rate to 9.1 percent. The economy needs to add between 130,000 to 150,000 jobs per month just to keep pace with population growth.
Just eight minutes later, reaction was already pouring in from lawmakers.
First, House Speaker John Boehner stated that the report was “more proof that all of the Washington spending, taxing, and regulating is devastating our economy.”
“While the American people are asking ‘where are the jobs?’ the Democrats running Washington are determined to punish small businesses with higher taxes and more red tape – including hundreds of new regulations last month alone – and to keep their spending binge going at all costs,” Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote in a statement. “Instead of more jobs, they’re creating more fear, more uncertainty, and more debt.”
Over the next 20 minutes, the rest of the House Republican leadership team quickly followed suit, issuing a barrage of like-minded statements.
“This economy is growing too slowly,” wrote House Republican Conference chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas. “The facts say that the Democrats’ policies have made things worse.”
“The failed policies of the Obama Administration are clearly leading our economy down the wrong path,” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., echoed.
“The Obama Administration has initiated and fueled a hyperactive regulatory platform of big government policies all paid for with borrowed dollars,” House Republican Policy chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., said. “The results are a nation plunged further into debt and job creation that is woefully inadequate.”
“It seems like the President, Vice President, and Majority Leader Reid have ‘pivoted’ and ‘refocused' on jobs now at least 10 separate times over the last two years,” House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves, R-Missouri, said.
“Raising taxes on the very small businesses we are counting on to create jobs is exactly the wrong prescription for economic growth – and a call for tax hikes shows the President remains out of touch on these tough economic issues,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor stated. “The President can’t have it both ways.”
The first Democrat to react this morning was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who noted that “creating jobs continues to be Democrats’ top priority” before he lashed out at Congressional Republicans for their conduct during the debt limit negotiations.
“We need Republicans to stop using common-sense jobs bills as vehicles for the Tea Party’s ideological agenda, and forcing us to run the government from one manufactured crisis to the next,” Reid, D-Nev., wrote in a statement. “With millions of Americans still out of work and our economy struggling to stay on the right track, I hope Republicans will put the best interests of our economy and the middle class ahead of the demands of the Tea Party."
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer was the first Democrat in the lower chamber of Congress to react, calling the report “unsatisfactory for the millions of Americans who remain unemployed and for the millions more waiting to feel the effects of economic recovery.”
“Clearly, we must do more. It is truly disappointing, then, that Republicans in Congress are intent on doing so little,” Hoyer, D-Maryland, said. “When Americans voted for a divided government, they also voted for shared responsibility, and I hope that Republicans will rise to that responsibility by finally beginning to deliver on their promise of job creation.”
“We have not added enough jobs this month, nor have we in past months. We must continue to do better,” wrote Maryland Democrat Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and a member of the Joint Economic Committee.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi noted that “today's jobs report shows some signs of progress” but she stated that the data “still serves as a clear reminder: our work must be putting people back to work.”
“After more than 210 days with no jobs plans, Republicans must join Democrats to enact our bipartisan solutions,” Pelosi, D-Calif., stated. “It is long past time for Republicans to get off the sidelines, listen to the American people and work with Democrats to create jobs, strengthen our middle class, and help our small businesses and entrepreneurs attract customers, grow, and hire.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch, the ranking member of the Finance Committee, called on Congress to pass three pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, and said that while some suggest raisings taxes will help address the country’s debt, “that would crush a recovery that is so needed.”
“Some policymakers suggest that more Washington spending is a salve to our economic woes, but as the debt crisis in Europe shows, cutting back on spending is essential to the health of our economy,” Hatch, R-Utah, said in a statement. “Reforming our burdensome tax code would put businesses on a level playing field against our global competitors, and reductions to the administration’s costly federal regulations will liberate these entrepreneurs to create jobs."
Through the fog of political posturing, at least one thing is clear: With legislators not set to return from summer recess until after the Labor Day holiday, Congress is unlikely to enact any jobs legislation before the next jobs report is due September 2.