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Economic Stall Could Hurt White House, Congress

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Obama took Congress to task on Friday for failing to adopt the bulk of his $447 billion jobs plan last year or his latest economic “to-do” list, and he pointed to challenges from Europe, high gas prices and the deep hole he inherited three and a half years ago.

The president revived his jobs act proposals to provide money to states to rehire teachers and firefighters and build roads and bridges, and continued to push for the five to-do list items, including a business tax cut and a refinancing plan for homeowners who owe more than their houses are worth.

“There’s no excuse for it,” Obama said of Congress’ failure to pass his proposals. “Not when there’s so many people out there still looking for work. Not when there’s still folks out there struggling to pay their bills. ... My message to Congress is now is not time to play politics. Now is not the time to sit on your hands.”

Romney and other Republicans jumped on the report with a torrent of tweets, press releases and TV appearances, using the latest numbers as confirmation that Obama’s term in office has been a failure.

“Slowing GDP growth, plunging consumer confidence, an increase in unemployment claims and now another dismal jobs report all stand as a harsh indictment of the president’s handling of the economy,” Romney said.

“President Obama’s failed policies have made high unemployment and a weak economy the sad new normal for families and small businesses,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement. “While Senate Democrats are blocking these and other important jobs bills, and President Obama is occupied campaigning, the House will continue to focus on liberating job creators and building a stronger economy for all Americans.”

Continued high employment among young people and a surge in Hispanic unemployment to 11 percent from 10.3 percent also gave the Romney camp an opening to appeal to voters who so far have strongly backed the president in polls.

“With Governor Romney in the White House, we will see a leader that has the business experience to put Hispanics back to work,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Alexandra Franceschi said.

Democrats said it’s time Republicans stop “rooting for failure” and work to pass a major jobs bill.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) accused House Republicans of putting together a spin-happy summer agenda.

“One of the problems is we’ve had this gridlock in the Congress where the principal objective has been to undermine the ability of President Obama to move this country forward,” he said on CNBC.

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