From NBC's Mark Murray
During President Obama's first 10-plus months in office, most of the economic news hasn't been positive. The unemployment rate is in double digits for the first time since the early 1980s. Critics have argued that the $787 billion stimulus hasn't worked the way some hoped it would. And Republicans, not surprisingly, have pounced on these shortcomings.
But as the economic news begins to get better -- positive growth in the 3rd quarter, the CBO estimating that between 600,000 and 1.6 million jobs in the 3rd quarter were created or saved by the stimulus, and today's best monthly jobs report in nearly two years -- Democrats are now pointing to what they see as the GOP's disconnect on the economy.
"There is a real disconnect," said Doug Thornell, a top Democratic congressional spokesman. "At what point are they going to acknowledge the positive steps taken that have pulled us away from the brink?"
Consider this statement Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele released just minutes after today's job numbers came out, showing that the unemployment rate dropped (from 10.2% in October to 10.0% in November) and that the economy lost 11,000 jobs (the best monthly showing since Dec. 2007). "More than 11,000 Americans lost their jobs in the month of November, meaning more than 2.8 million Americans have lost their jobs since the stimulus passed, and the national unemployment rate remains in double digits. If President Obama is truly interested in job creation, then he should stop campaigning for reelection, stop pushing 'Stimulus II,' and start working with Republicans on common-sense conservative solutions." (Left unsaid in the statement was that more than 3 million jobs were lost during Bush's final year in office.)
By contrast, GOP Rep. Kevin Brady issued this sober statement: "The number of jobs lost is better than expected, which is good news, but we can't celebrate a 10 percent unemployment rate when the long-term unemployment rate continues to grow in troubling numbers."
For the White House's part, economic adviser Christina Romer wrote this on the White House blog: "Despite the welcome decline, the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high. This underscores the need for the responsible actions to jumpstart private-sector job creation... The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative. But, it is clear we are moving in the right direction."