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Crowley: A delicate economic dance in D.C.

By Candy Crowley, CNN Senior Political Correspondent
CNN's Candy Crowley talks with Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States.
CNN's Candy Crowley talks with Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President's top advisers balance March job creation with gloomy jobless rate
  • Christina Romer: "We still face a lot of headwinds"
  • President's advisers have much less to say Chinese currency situation
  • Senate reacts to Justice Stevens' decision to leave high court in Obama first term

Washington (CNN) -- Dancing on the head of a pin, two of the president's top advisers were out Sunday touting March job gains as signs that the president's economic policy is working while paying due diligence to a brutal 9.7 percent unemployment rate.

"We've got a long way to go," according to Larry Summers, director of the National Economic Council.

Christina Romer, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers added, "We still face a lot of headwinds."

Employers added 162,000 jobs in March after losing a revised 14,000 jobs in February.

Both were primed with talking points, including a slam on Republicans for refusing to extend unemployment benefits until Congress found some way to pay for it.

Economy better, but still 'a long way to go'

"That's not how government should be working," Summers scolded.

"Absolutely has to get done," Romer insisted.

China and its currency

Is the opposite of talking points non-talking points?

Video: Larry Summers: 'Long way to go' on jobs
Video: Israel Ambassador: Relations are 'great'
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If so, China's manipulation of its currency is the latter. The administration decision to delay its world currencies report (due mid-April) until after a series of meetings with the Chinese was quite the touchy issue this Sunday.

China's undervalued currency adds to the U.S. jobs problem, as it makes U.S. goods more expensive and Chinese exports cheaper. A bipartisan move in Congress would label China a "currency manipulator."

Pressed repeatedly on whether they agree, neither Romer nor Summers would play. The default position was basically, wešre looking at it.

"This is absolutely going to be an issue that is high on the agenda," said Romer.

Summers promised the U.S. would pursue the issue with "a great deal of vigor." He denied on ABC that the delay was tied to the U.S. hope that China will go along with sanctions against Iran. Wonder whether all that U.S. debt China is holding has anything to do with the delicate approach?

Israel stands firm on housing

Case closed for Israel under intense U.S. pressure to quit building in East Jerusalem.

"The policy is not going to change," said Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren. "Our policy is that every Arab, every Jew has a right to build anywhere in the city legally as they, an Arab and Jew, would have a right to build legally anywhere in a city in the United States, including in this city, in Washington, D.C."

How are U.S.-Israeli relations? "Great." Privately, U.S. officials have a different description.

Supreme Court seat

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens' declaration that he will leave the high court before the president's term is up sent senators who would confirm his replacement out of the starting gate.

Former Republican now Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania told Fox News he hopes the justice, on the verge of his 90th birthday, will not retire this year. He worries about a filibuster tying up the Senate in an election year.

On the same show, Sen. John Kyl, R-Arizona, promised if the president sends up the right nominee, defined by Kyl as not "overly ideological," then he does not believe Republicans will filibuster.

A prediction and a pitch

Georgetown University men's basketball coach John Thompson III is watching the Final Four tournament from Indianapolis. He picks Duke to win the championship Monday night. Meanwhile, the Washington Nationals have their season opener Monday afternoon and President Obama is throwing the first pitch.

Play ball.

 
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