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Comments on Unemployment Rate

1 June 2012

The US unemployment rate was published at 8.2% for the month of May, rising a tenth of a point from April's 8.1%. Here's what several congress members had to say about it...

Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX5) openly blamed the leadership of President Barack Obama. He said the following: “I guess the only news this morning is that 3 ½ years later, the president's policies are still failing; 3 ½ years later, millions of Americans still remain unemployed; 3 ½ years later, millions of Americans are underemployed. Again, the president's policies continue to fail.”

Hensarling went on to enumerate his list of acts by President Obama that have caused high unemployment: “This should not be a surprise. If you threaten the single largest tax increase in America's history, much of which will fall upon small business people and entrepreneurs, you're not going to get robust economic growth. If you have an avalanche of new regulations, as have ensued under this administration, you're not going to have robust economic growth and job growth. If you go about vilifying success and free enterprise, you're not going to have robust economic growth. If you engage in serial trillion-dollar deficits -- which business people know sooner or later they're going to have to pay for -- you're not going to get robust economic growth.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA8) emphasized the fact that the economy has seen a total increase of 69,000 jobs in the last month. She then openly blamed congressional members of the Republican party for causing gridlock: “America's workers and small businesses demand certainty; yet Republicans are risking another deep recession by threatening to hold the full faith and credit of the United States of America hostage and refusing to bring to the floor a vote on the middle-income tax cuts. The American people's top priority remains job creation; yet Republicans have no jobs plan. Their only plan is to hand more tax breaks to millionaires, Big Oil, special interests, and corporations that ship jobs overseas.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA7) voiced his displeasure with the report, stating "Today's dismal jobs report echoes what three years of high unemployment have shown: threatening small businesses with tax hikes and red tape does not create jobs." He concluded with a plea to the president to "stop pushing policies that don't work and join us on pro-growth policies to get more Americans back to work."

The Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH8) emphatically challenged President Obama's policies, claiming "high unemployment and a weak economy [is] the sad new normal for families and small businesses... the unemployment rate has remained far above what the administration predicted with the 'stimulus' spending binge. Half of recent college graduates are out of work or underemployed, and for those lucky enough to have a job, prices for everything from gas to groceries have risen faster than paychecks." He finished by challenging "President Obama and Senate Democrats to stop playing games and start listening" to Republican plans for job creation.

The finger pointing between conflicting ideologies continued, as Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD5) argued "this morning's jobs report shows that Congressional Republicans' do-nothing, confrontation over compromise approach to jobs isn't working... And Republicans show no sign of changing course to focus on jobs. House Republicans' summer legislative agenda makes no mention of job-creating legislation, promising to buck their responsibility on jobs for several additional months. This is deeply disappointing, as we were able to work together in May to pass a bipartisan reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank." Hoyer concluded with a plea for partisan cooperation, spurring the House Republicans to "revisit that spirit of bipartisanship and work with us to pass other Make It In America bills soon so we can get more Americans back to work."

Ryan Bince is a student at Ithaca College majoring in Rhetorical Studies, and Graham Shorr is a student at Carnegie Mellon University majoring in Professional Writing. Both are current interns with Project Vote Smart. For more information on internship opportunities with Project Vote Smart, contact us at or calling 1-888-VOTE-SMART.

Related tags: California, Maryland, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, bi-partisanship, blog

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