The loss of 467,000 jobs in June, driving the national unemployment rate to 9.5 percent, is unwelcome news for the Obama administration, which has spent half a year trying to turn the tide of the economic downfall. Already the president has conceded that 10 percent unemployment is likely in America's future. But the job front remains a particular vulnerability for this White House -- the one major chink in the Obama armor, far more politically delicate than the president's handling of foreign affairs or health care.
And so, it shouldn't come as a surprise that within minutes of their release, Obama's political opponents turned the porous June job numbers against him. Obviously anticipating the bad news, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) released a web video featuring a job-sniffing bloodhound named Ellie Mae asking: "Where are the jobs."
The clip, a Boehner aide says, is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. Narrated by Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga), it is based off a 1984 TV commercial by the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
"This is a light-hearted web video, but the underlying point is no laughing matter," Boehner said in a statement. "At a time when Americans are looking to Washington for leadership, the trillion-dollar 'stimulus' isn't working. Americans were promised the stimulus would keep the unemployment rate from going above 8 percent. It's now skyrocketing above 9 percent. Where are the jobs?"
Obama's allies will point out that the foundation of this current wave of job loss is rooted in the policies of the Bush administration. Economic models hold that the stimulus spending by the administration won't take affect fully until months from now. But, six months into office, it is also a widely accepted that the White House now "owns" much of this economy. Even Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has insisted that the success of the administration's policies should be measured in the number of jobs created.
"A good starting point is looking at broad measures of economic performance, like jobs," Geithner said in a response to questions posed by Huffington Post readers.
The Treasury Secretary went on to note that "job losses in the month of May were at their lowest level since September 2008." That talking point, however, now seems inoperative as pace of job losses in June was nearly 50 percent greater than the month before.