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Jobs numbers bring politics as usual

By Leigh Ann Caldwell, CNN
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Tue October 22, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lawmakers released a fresh game of blame over the jobs numbers
  • Republicans blame Obamacare for the mixed unemployment report
  • Democrats blame Republicans and the government shutdown

Washington (CNN) -- Public anger over the 16-day government shutdown could have been a big reality check for Washington politicians as polls show the public is frustrated with their inability to get things done.

But the latest unemployment numbers out Tuesday have brought back a renewed sense of politics as usual. Lawmakers released a fresh game of blame over the mixed jobs numbers.

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Although employers added 148,000 jobs in September, the numbers disappointed as hiring slowed. As with all things in Washington, the figures sparked a fresh frenzy of political statements from both sides of the political aisle.

Partisans in Washington are using the jobs numbers to bolster their political position.

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"Today's unemployment report shows Pres Obama has more than a troubled website to fix," House Speaker John Boehner wrote via Twitter in referring to the technical problems surrounding the Web portal to sign up for the government's health insurance exchanges.

"Add the higher costs and rising premiums of Obamacare on top of disappointing jobs numbers and underwhelming wage growth, and you have a recipe for economic stagnation," Boehner continued in a statement.

The besieged Speaker has taken a public opinion pounding since the government shutdown.

But Boehner's not the only one on the receiving end of public anger. While Americans are more displeased with the Republican Party, the public is frustrated with Democrats and Congress in general. And that number has grown since the government shutdown.

In a new CNN/ORC poll out this week, only 14% of Americans are satisfied with American governance compared with 25% in March.

Boehner used the jobs numbers in vowing to "stop the president's health care law."

Economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who has been a policy adviser for many Republicans, pointed to the increase of part-time employment in the latest jobs numbers as "suspicion" that business distaste for the health care law requirements is convincing employers to hire part-time instead of full-time.

That's a commonly held talking point that has now resurfaced.

Rep. Dave Camp, R-Michigan, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, echoed Boehner's and Holtz-Eakin's sentiment.

He called the unemployment numbers "disappointing" and that Obamacare is "contributing to reduced hiring and continued economic uncertainty."

"We need, at a minimum, to delay Obamacare for families and small businesses, just as the President did for large businesses," Camp said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Democrats have a much rosier picture of the jobs report, saying there is "progress" and that the country is "on the right track."

But they admit that the economy has a long way to go as the unemployment rate is 7.2 percent and that more than 11 million people remain unemployed.

So they pointed to the shutdown, which has become a political disaster for Republicans.

But they say the government shutdown has hindered economic growth.

President Barack Obama's top economic adviser, Jason Furman, who is Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said that other jobs indicators show economic activity lagged during the first days of October.

"Indicators suggest that the shutdown and debt ceiling brinksmanship in the first half of October had a disruptive effect on the labor market," Furman wrote.

He said government loans, high-tech product licenses and home mortgage remained unfulfilled, impacting economic activity.

While the jobs numbers didn't include the government shutdown that began on October 1, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, said it caused unknown "economic damage."

"Our recovery was still on the right track before reckless and irresponsible actions by House Republicans led to a shutdown of the federal government and threatened an unprecedented default on America's obligations," Hoyer said in a statement.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, bluntly said in a statement what Hoyer and Furman did not: The Republicans are at fault.

"This latest GOP manufactured crisis jeopardized our country's economic credibility, shook consumer and investor confidence, and took $24 billion out of our economy," Pelosi said.

While the Republicans used the jobs numbers to pivot to their legislative goals, Pelosi did too. She said the numbers are proof that upcoming budget negotiations between House and Senate Republicans and Democrats should spur Congress to "make critical investments" to create jobs.

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