By Russell Berman - 06/01/12 02:21 PM EDT
House Republican leaders heaped blame on President Obama for the dismal jobs report released on Friday, even as they took fire from Democrats for a lackluster economic agenda.
“Another month of disappointing job gains. It’s pretty clear that the American people are hurting and small businesses continue to avert hiring additional people,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said at a Capitol press conference responding to the monthly Labor Department report. “And it’s clear that the policies that we’ve seen aren’t working.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) called the job numbers “pathetic.”
“The American really people deserve better, and I think under the right leadership, they can do better,” he said.
The report showed the economy gained just 69,000 jobs in May, less than half of what economists expected. The unemployment rate ticked up to 8.2 percent, and job gains for the previous two months were revised down.
Boehner has had little interest in the congressional “to-do list” that Obama is expected to press on Friday, and he urged the president to engage with Congress on bigger issues, like the tax increases and deep spending cuts slated for the end of the year. “Maybe the president ought to get out of the badminton game and get into the rugby game that’s right in front of me,” Boehner said.
The Speaker deflected a question on whether the House Republican majority deserved any culpability for the economy after a year and a half in power. “[Democrats] went their own way in 2009 and 2010 on virtually every bill, and they’ve created quite a mess,” Boehner said. “Listen, our job is to stay focused on what the American people are most concerned about, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
Yet the Friday jobs report prompted one senior Democrat to place the blame squarely on the House GOP majority. “This morning’s jobs report shows that congressional Republicans’ do-nothing, confrontation-over-compromise approach to jobs isn’t working,” the second-ranking House Democrat, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.), said in a statement. “While the president and Democrats in Congress have been promoting a jobs-first agenda to provide certainty to American businesses and workers, Republicans continue to avoid addressing serious job creation in favor of ideological bills.”