published Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Jobs data prompts finger pointing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In Washington there’s bipartisan agreement on at least one thing: The economy is still in trouble.

But accusations are flying on Capitol Hill over which party is to blame for Friday’s dismal jobs report.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the economy only added 18,000 nonfarm jobs in June and that the nation’s unemployment rate sits at 9.2 percent — a worse than expected economic performance.

The new data enlivened a debate about how policymakers should try to fix the nation’s sluggish economy.

Democrats, who control the White House and the Senate, blame the Republican majority in the House for tying their hands and playing politics instead of letting their economic policies take root.

The new group of 87 freshmen Republicans in the House see the situation differently.

“I continue to be disappointed in and frustrated with this administration,” Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., said after wrapping up his workweek in Washington. The jobs report is “just another clear indicator that the policies of this administration are not working,” he added.

Republicans stuck with their argument that the way to fix the economy is to roll back federal spending and what they claim are undo regulations.

“We need to be focused on the private sector,” said Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga. “Until we get regulators out of their way, until we get the federal government out of their way, we’re going to sit here and lag along as we have for the last almost 30 months now.”

But opponents on the other side of the aisle say the fragile economic recovery needs a boost from the federal government, not drastic spending cuts.

The labor report also showed that local, state, and federal government entities shed 39,000 jobs.

“That says we shouldn’t be cutting back on spending right now,” said Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. “When you’ve had a recession you need to develop a middle class that can afford to buy goods. We don’t have a middle class that can afford to buy goods.”

“We need to create the middle class and developed the middle class and you do that by jobs programs and opportunities to put people back to work,” he said.

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