Despite three straight months of better-than-expected jobs growth, national Republicans are pushing back on the notion the recovery is gaining credible momentum.
“Today’s jobs report is yet another reminder that far too many Americans are out of work, and the situation is clearly not improving,” RNC Chair Reince Priebus said in a statement.
His organization pushed that message on multiple fronts. In a conference call with reporters hosted by the RNC, economist Douglas Holtz Eakin said the current rate of growth was not strong enough to provide work for previously discouraged job seekers now returning to the labor force more optimistic about finding employment. He also expressed concern that the jobs numbers were being inflated by an unusually warm winter, which allows more construction work and encourages more shopping.
“My concern is that the policies are not going to be enough to generate the jobs necessary for them as they come back in, and as a result the unemployment rate will at best stay flat and we wont see enough progress over the next year,” he said. “It’s nice when they come back, it’s way better when they come back to an economy growing back vibrantly enough to accept them.”
The RNC’s press office openly mocked the notion that the economy was recovering.
“The ‘Recovery’ The White House Is Cheering Fails To Bring Down An Unemployment Rate That Has Remained Over 8 Percent For 37 Straight Months,” read the headline of a research briefing it posted onllne. It continued: “The Economy Remains Mired In The Malaise Of Obamonomics.”
House leaders were at least slightly more upbeat. Speaker John Boehner called the numbers “encouraging” but hedged with “unemployment remains far too high.” He also made clear none of the green shoots in the economy had anything to do with President Obama.
“It is a testament to the hard work and entrepreneurship of the American people that they are creating any jobs in the midst of the onslaught of anti-business policies coming from this administration,” he said.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor struck a more bipartisan note, taking the occasion to praise Congress for passing a small bipartisan jobs bill this week. In a statement, he said the bill was a “welcome sign that we can put aside our differences and come together to produce results and create a thriving economy.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.