House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi defended the president’s economic policies Sunday following Friday’s Labor Department report that the nation added only 54,000 jobs in May and that the unemployment rate regressed to 9.1 percent.
The California Democrat told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the economic situation could have been worse if President Barack Obama had not taken action during the first several years of his presidency. She also speculated that rising gas and food prices could be a result of recent natural disasters in the South and Midwest.
“I think if [Obama] hadn’t taken the actions he did, the situation would be worse,” Pelosi said. “He pulled us from the brink of a financial crisis, an economic crisis, and now we have to dig us out of a deep debt, and we also have to make it clear that we’re not getting into this situation again.”
The Labor Department report sparked a round of criticism aimed at the White House that the economy is backsliding.
Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, also came to the president’s aid Sunday, emphasizing that “one month is not a trend.”
“What you want to look at are, ‘What are the recent trends?’ Because one month is not a trend,” Goolsbee told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “And the last six months we’ve added 1 million jobs in the economy. The last 15 months we’ve added 2 million jobs.”
Despite the economic news, Congress still appears to be at a standstill in negotiations over raising the debt limit and cutting the deficit.
When pressed on Congressional inaction over job creation, Pelosi said to ask Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans because “they set the agenda.” Pelosi called current bipartisan discussions about the country’s mounting debt “civil and constructive,” but she emphasized that any deficit-cutting deal would have to begin with an agreement to raise the debt limit.
She reiterated that any cuts to Medicare benefits are off the table as part of that deal.
“I could never support any arrangement that reduced benefits for Medicare. Absolutely not,” Pelosi said.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.