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Job Numbers Released, GOP Pounces

In what has become a monthly routine, Republicans took the opportunity once again to cite new unemployment numbers in criticizing Democrats for the economic stimulus package passed earlier this year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced this morning that unemployment had risen a tenth of a point to 9.8 percent, the highest since June 1983.

"Today's troubling report underscores the need for Democrats in Washington to scrap their job-killing agenda and act in a bipartisan way to put Americans back to work," said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

The stimulus bill was signed into law by President Obama February 17. Since then Democrats have continued to tout the progress the economy has made since the beginning of the year, and Obama has maintained that things would be even worse had there been no stimulus. The president's Council of Economic Advisers reports that the package has created or retained 1 million jobs.

Just yesterday, Vice President Biden announced new targets for the stimulus package and touted "great progress in the first seven months" of its implementation in 2009.

Republicans, however, disagree and have utilized fresh unemployment data from the BLS to help prove their point.

"Continued job loss does not equal success despite claims to the contrary, and the American people deserve stronger economic leadership," said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

Democrats, meanwhile, continue to push ownership of the recession on President Bush in an attempt to deflect the brunt of criticism off Obama. In a briefing with reporters in mid-September, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) noted that 650,000 jobs were lost on average in the last three months of Bush's term -- far less than 263,000 lost in September and 227,000 in August.

Hoyer also conceded that whether the GDP rises or not, "the American public is focused on jobs," which are a "lagging indicator."

"While the recession may be over, it is clear that we have not started to gain back jobs, which is absolutely essential," he said.

Obama and many Democrats in the House and Senate can most likely thank much of their electoral success on a down economy in 2008. Republicans hope to capitalize on it as well in 2010 by pronouncing a government-funded economic stimulus package a waste of taxpayers' money.

"As unemployment continues to climb, we are reminded again that wasteful government spending is not the solution to what ails this economy," said House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.). "The American people know that true economic recovery starts with fiscal discipline in Washington, D.C., and tax relief for working families, small businesses and family farms."