WASHINGTON — Republicans concerned about the Obama administration's big spending on economic stimulus, energy and health care are asking, "Where are the jobs?"
"The president and Democrats in Congress claim this spending binge is necessary to put Americans back to work," House Republican leader John Boehner said Saturday in the Republican radio and Internet address. "They promised unemployment would not rise above 8 percent if their trillion-dollar stimulus was passed.
The administration was wrong, Boehner said. "Unemployment has soared above 9 percent. And now the president admits that unemployment will soon reach double digits.
"After all of this spending, after all of this borrowing from China, the Middle East, our children and our grandchildren, where are the jobs?" he said.
Since President Barack Obama's stimulus plan to trigger job creation was passed, the economy has shed 1.6 million jobs. The administration has focused instead on its estimate that the stimulus has created or saved 150,000 jobs.
That estimate comes from a formula that uses government spending and tax cuts to predict job growth. The formula has been used by Republicans and Democrats alike, but was built to predict, not count jobs. To count jobs, economists traditionally rely on Labor Department data on unemployment, manufacturing and construction activity, and county-by-county, state-by-state job reports.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said early this week that the president expects the nation will reach 10 percent unemployment within the next few months. In January, Obama's economic team predicted unemployment would rise no higher than 8 percent with the help of a $787 billion stimulus program. The unemployment rate in May reached a 25-year high of 9.4 percent. Obama aides have said that the economy took a turn for the worse since their initial forecast.
Boehner has seized on the administration's revised forecast.
He predicted Democratic proposals on health care, stimulus and energy would all be bad for the economy.
He said Republicans have proposed improvements to health care and economic stimulus that are less intrusive and expensive than Obama's plans. And he criticized Democratic efforts to pass an energy bill that he described as "a national energy tax," which passed the House Friday. He singled out proposed health care changes as a job killer.
"It's about to get worse for middle-class families and small businesses," he said. "Democrats are pushing a government takeover of our health care system that will cost at least a trillion dollars."
"The president has repeatedly claimed that Americans will be able to keep their doctors under the Democrats' plan," Boehner said, adding he's seen government reports that indicate millions will lose their current health coverage and millions more will lose their jobs if the Democratic plan is adopted.
Obama argues that health care changes will help the economy and scoffs at predictions that his plans to offer a public plan as an alternative will harm the private insurance industry. He says it's not logical that private industry provides the best quality health care but can't compete with a public plan.
Boehner said Democrats should abandon their determination to pass measures without GOP cooperation. "We hope our Democrat colleagues will abandon their failed go-it-alone approach and work with us to make these reforms a reality," he said.
On the Net:
Video of address: http://www.youtube.com/gopweeklyaddress