In response to news that the national unemployment rate held steady at 9.7 percent after employers shed 36,000 jobs, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on the Senate floor that "today is a big day in America. Only 36,00 people lost their jobs today, which is really good."
He continued: "The unemployment rate around America has not changed. Prognosticators thought it would go up and it has not."
Soon Republicans went on the attack over the comments, distributing a YouTube clip of the first part of the remarks -- omitting the rest -- with the email subject line, "Senator Reid's 'Big Day,' Unless You're One of Those 36,000." The Drudge Report seized the seven-second clip for a big red splash headline: "REID: GOOD NEWS, ONLY 36000 LOST THEIR JOBS TODAY."
The opportunity to blast Reid for making a careless remark about the job situation must be a relief to the GOP, whose Senate leaders stood aside while Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) single-handedly obstructed for several days a domestic aid bill that will extend enhanced unemployment benefits for hundreds of thousands of people.
Not willing to cede the upper hand on compassion for the unemployed, Reid's office responded to the criticism Friday both with a tweet and a statement from spokesman Jim Manley:
"Respected publications like the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones and Bloomberg News reported that as many as 75,000 people were expected to have lost their jobs in February," said Manley. "Fortunately it turned out to be much lower than that. Only those Republicans who would root for failure would refuse to acknowledge any progress at all. Senator Reid knows there is much more work to do, which is why he led passage last week of the latest in a series of jobs bills that will create or save more than a million jobs."
In fact, Friday's jobs report is good news considering 700,000 people were losing their jobs every month at the beginning of last year. However, some economists see the static job situation as the economic recovery losing steam.