Democrats and Republicans continued sparring over economic policies Friday as new numbers showed unemployment rising from 9.6 percent to 9.8 percent in November, the highest rate since April.
GOP leaders stayed on message with their claims that flawed Democratic policies are to blame for 39,000 jobs being added to the economy last month, which was far fewer than expected.
"The American people keep asking 'Where are the jobs?' but the only answer from the Obama administration is more spending and more taxes. The economic policies of this administration have failed and nearly 15 million Americans are still struggling to find work," House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) said.
Republican leaders also tied the numbers to the ongoing debate over extending the soon-to-expire Bush-era tax cuts. Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio) blasted House Democrats for pushing through a permanent extension of middle-class tax cuts on Thursday without extending them for all Americans.
"Unfortunately, Democratic leaders continue to insist on wasting time with meaningless votes as they try to make it as difficult as possible to stop their job-killing tax hike," Boehner said.
"The lame-duck Congress should do the right thing and vote immediately to cut spending and stop all the tax hikes. If they don't, the new House majority will in January," he said.
But Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who chairs the Joint Economic Committee, said while the latest jobs figures are not as many as people hoped for, they still reflect 11 straight months of private sector job gains. She called it "ridiculous" that Republicans are pushing to extend tax cuts to higher-income earners and said, if anything, the jobs numbers underscore the need to pass an extension of unemployment benefits.
"My Republican colleagues have offered few ideas on how to create jobs, but have been vocal and steadfast in their opposition to unemployment benefits for those without jobs," Maloney said.
"Without Congressional action, two million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits by the end of this month, including 200,000 unemployed workers in my state of New York."
Vice President Joseph Biden said there is "no question the report is disappointing" and chimed in on the need for extending unemployment benefits in the lame-duck Congress.
"Not only is it the right thing to do," Biden told reporters at the White House, but it makes economic sense, and especially right before the holidays, when that money gets put back into the economy.
Unemployment insurance is a "powerful driver of economic growth," he said.