Two Peas in a Political Pod: ObamaCare and Stubborn Unemployment
President Obama made his way through Ohio and Pennsylvania eateries over the past two days, asking patrons how long they'd been married and imparting his own marital advice -- "Just do whatever she tells you," he told a couple at the Kozy Corners diner.
Listen closely to the collective buzz of recessed Hill Republicans today, and you could discern the clear clanging of bells as ObamaCare and stagnant unemployment numbers were joined in a tight political union.
The 8.2 percent rate -- unchanged despite the addition of 80,000 private-sector jobs -- was an expected hurdle for Obama, on his swing-state bus tour, to have to explain today.
"All they've got to argue is the economy's not moving as fast as it needs to. Jobs aren't growing as fast as they need to. And it's all Obama's fault. That's basically their only message," Obama said at an appearance at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh this afternoon. "Now, I guess this is a plan to win an election, but it's not a plan to create jobs. It's not a plan to grow our middle class."
Republicans, though, had already spun the early-morning Bureau of Labor Statistics report with the message that ObamaCare won't create jobs or grow the middle class, either.
“The Obama Administration’s focus on excessive regulation and ever increasing taxes to chase ever-higher deficit spending has made doing business in America even more difficult for those who create jobs and drive our economy," said Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.). "The primary example is the president’s health care law which is a threat not only to quality, affordable health care, but also to economic growth."
Price, an orthopedic surgeon, will be on Fox News Sunday to represent the post-SCOTUS Republican battle against ObamaCare.
"The threat of higher taxes, more government spending and bureaucratic red-tape has injected uncertainty into our economy and hindered much-needed job growth," said Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. "To make matters worse, the president’s health care tax will make it even more difficult for small businesses to hire in the Obama economy."
The timing of the monthly labor statistics comes at a critical time for the GOP. Directly after last week's upholding of ObamaCare by the Supreme Court, Republican leaders scheduled a post-recess vote to repeal the healthcare law -- a symbolic responsive move that's DOA in the Senate, but now has extra debate punch with the jobs report.
“The president needs to stop betting on his failed policies and start working with Republicans to remove government obstacles to job creation. We’ve passed more than 30 jobs bills – he should call on Senate Democrats to stop stalling them," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said. "Next week we’ll vote to fully repeal the president’s health care law."
The Rules Committee is holding an emergency meeting Monday evening to hasten the journey of the as-yet-unintroduced Repeal of Obamacare Act, sponsored by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Debate begins Tuesday, with consideration on either Wednesday or Thursday.
The bill notes that the law "imposes 21 new or higher taxes on American families and businesses, including 12 taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year" and stresses Congressional Budget Office predictions that health insurance premiums for private coverage will increase by $2,100 in 2016.
Off the Hill, the union of ObamaCare and the jobs numbers also provided valuable campaign talking points, though wrapped in an answer to a question at today's New Hampshire press conference about whether conservatives had pressed Mitt Romney to abandon his belief in the individual mandate.
"I said the right course for the federal government is to allow states to create their own plans. And by the way, the proof is that I was right. Because ObamaCare is costing jobs in America," Romney said. "When three-quarters of small businesses say that they're less likely to hire people because of ObamaCare you know the president has put his liberal agenda, ObamaCare, ahead of the interest of creating jobs."
Facing next week's ObamaCare-costs-jobs onslaught in the House, the Obama campaign sent out its surrogates in the wake of the jobs report to fix the blame spotlight back toward Capitol Hill.
"That's why we're so frustrated with the Congress, they're not working together on a bipartisan basis, they're putting party before country," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said today on MSNBC. "They're not working to create the jobs that we need."
Not an issue to be left out in the cold, the Keystone XL pipeline shared screen time with ObamaCare in Republican responses today as it has in many months' worth of reactions to unemployment reports.
"The Keystone XL pipeline would have immediately created tens of thousands of American jobs," said Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph M. Hall. "Instead, the ‘green jobs’ agenda reflected in the President’s Stimulus Bill has predictably fallen short."
For example, Hall said, a single green energy program created under Section 1603 of the Stimulus Bill spent roughly $9 billion from 2009 – 2011. According to a report by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, this massive spending resulted in only 910 direct jobs and another 4,600 indirect jobs.
"So while giving billions of taxpayer dollars to expensive wind and solar energy projects, each actual job created cost the taxpayer roughly $1.63 million," Hall said.
"He even bet taxpayer dollars on companies like Solyndra while blocking popular projects like Keystone XL that would create tens of thousands of new American jobs," Boehner said.
Neither issue is likely to be divorced from the GOP's jobs message anytime soon, especially if labor statistics don't pick up soon and as Republicans run with Chief Justice John Roberts' ruling of the individual mandate as a tax.