Although he was scheduled Friday to officially rebut President Obama’s renewed push earlier in the day to pass a comprehensive jobs bill, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor almost needn’t have bothered.
In a hastily called White House news conference, the president declared that Congress had “no excuses” to pass his long-stalled American Jobs Act, legislation which would create jobs through infrastructure spending, prevent teacher layoffs, and more.
“If Congress decides not do anything about all this because it’s an election year, they should explain to the American people why,” Obama says.
Obama’s remarks come on the heels of last week’s disappointing jobs report for May, and amid new worries that he is vulnerable in his bid for a second term in the Oval Office.
Cantor was to come out and criticize Obama’s proposals in a news conference of his own, but earlier this week he already made clear Republicans had pretty much given up on any legislating, and “all but predicted 2012 substantively over,” according to Politico. He’s counting on former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney to defeat Obama in November.
The Virginia Republican made his mind up despite the fact that there are still 5 million fewer jobs on nonfarm payrolls in May than when the recession began in December 2007 and 4.6 million fewer jobs on private-sector payrolls.
Moreover, two-fifths (42.8 percent) of the 12.7 million people who are unemployed — 5.4 million people — have been looking for work for 27 weeks or longer. These long-term unemployed represent 3.5 percent of the labor force. Before this recession, the previous highs for these statistics over the past six decades were 26 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively, in June 1983, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, an independent Washington think tank.
The president’s revival of his jobs bill likely will find no traction either, in the Democratic-controlled Senate where GOP senators have repeatedly filibustered all of the provisions of the American Jobs Act except for those aiding veterans looking for work.