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Republicans Challenge Obama Administration on Economy


Democratic Senator Harry Reid

Democratic Senator Harry Reid

Opposition Republicans say a report by President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers containing projections about unemployment and other issues proves that his policies are not working. Democrats countered Republican criticisms of the report, which predicts more job growth although continuing high overall unemployment, as Senate Democrats prepare to move ahead with legislation aimed at spurring job growth:

Though no votes are expected in the Senate due to disruptions from the latest major snowstorm to hit Washington, Democratic leader Harry Reid laid out what he called the jobs agenda Democrats intend to push in coming weeks.

Including a bipartisan proposal from New York Democrat Charles Schumer and Republican Orrin Hatch, the Senate will begin considering a package of bills after next week's congressional break.

"The American people need a message. The message that they need is that we're doing something about jobs. We don't have a jobs bill, we have a jobs agenda," Senator Reid said.

While Reid described the package as smaller than described in media reports, Republicans continued generally across-the-board opposition to Democrat's proposals and took aim at an annual report issued by President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers.

According to the report, the economy will begin showing more job growth in the second quarter of this year, an average of 95,000 jobs each month, with council economists predicting an increase to a monthly average of 190,000 jobs next year and 251,000 in 2012.

That is less optimistic than assessments by private forecasters. While it does not alter the administration's forecast of 10 percent unemployment for the rest of this year, the council says there are strong signs that the American economy is starting to recover.

Republicans immediately jumped on the report, calling it proof that administration policies are not stimulating recovery or job growth.

House minority leader John Boehner repeated his assertion that President Obama and Democrats have failed to do enough to help small businesses or create jobs.

House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer said the council report shows that the steps the administration has taken to respond to the short-term economic crisis while laying a foundation for sustainable, long-term growth.

Republicans also took aim at a proposed bipartisan jobs and recovery bill unveiled by Democratic Senator Max Baucus and Republican Charles Grassley, one President Obama described as a hopeful sign of bipartisanship. The $85 billion measure would give tax incentives to companies that hire people who have been unemployed for at least two months or that retain new employees for 52 weeks.

Representative Eric Cantor, a key Republican leader in the House of Representatives, suggested it was inaccurate to describe the legislation as a jobs bill, saying it focused almost entirely on extending current assistance programs for unemployed Americans and existing tax policies.

Despite some signs of cooperation between a few Senate Democrats and Republicans, the chamber has remained largely paralyzed by partisan bickering.

Referring to this on Thursday, Democratic Senator Reid pointed to what he called a long list of disappointments in which Republicans and Democrats started out holding hands but winded up pointing fingers.

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