“If Congress had passed it in full, we'd be on track to have a million more Americans working this year,” Obama said. “The unemployment rate would be lower. Our economy would be stronger.”
He credited Congress with passing some parts of the bill, such as a cut in the payroll tax, but blamed Congress for leaving “most of the jobs plan just sitting there.” He also spoke of the economic “headwinds” that he faces – a term he has deployed so many times since taking office in early 2009 that the Republican National Committee mocked him for it in a web video released Friday morning.
Obama’s press conference, announced with just an hour’s notice, seemed aimed at seizing the political narrative at the end of a tough week. Last Friday, the unemployment report for May showed weaker-than-expected jobs growth, and an uptick of the jobless rate to 8.2 percent. In the ensuing week, the stock market did a roller coaster act.
On Tuesday, the failure of Wisconsin Democrats – and their allies in the labor movement – to unseat Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a controversial recall effort dealt another blow to Obama and his party.
And in a stickier situation for the president, former President Clinton erupted with a series of “off-message” statements several times in the last week, contradicting key Obama campaign arguments on the economy, taxes, and presumed GOP nominee Mitt Romney's business record. Mr. Clinton apologized on Thursday, and is likely to remain a top surrogate for Obama, but after similar displays of rogue behavior by other top Democrats – note Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell – Team Obama seemed a bit ragged by week’s end.