White House defends weak August job numbers, admits heart not really in it

Press Secretary Jay Carney answers questions, sighs deeply in the White House briefing room Friday – (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON – Releasing its monthly jobs report Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the US had added only 96,000 new jobs in August, significantly fewer than forecast. The timing of the news, coming on the heels of the Democratic National Convention, presents a problem for President Obama, who’s recently been touting his role in the current economic recovery.

Speaking at a White House briefing Friday afternoon, press secretary Jay Carney downplayed the report’s severity. “What I think is important to highlight to the American people, is it’s not so much how many new jobs were created, but really how great they are.” Pulling open the classifieds from Friday’s USA Today, Carney continued. “Here, look. Jiffy Lube off I-89 in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Stocking clerk. $7.25/hr, free uniform, and discounted oil changes. Or hey, what about Panera Bread. That’d be fun right? You’re working in a bakery, kind of. Smells good. Anyways, I think the point here is, there are great options out there, people just need to look. Alright, I’ll take a few questions.”

“To be honest Jay,” began NBC’s Chuck Todd, clearly confused by the administrations position. “Neither of these examples seem to reflect the high-value science and technology jobs the President’s been promoting the last few months. Does the President, or his economic team, have a sense for whether this is part of a broader, downward trend in new job growth?”

“Frankly, what do you want from me Chuck? What can I tell you?” responded Carney, pausing to remove his glasses, rub his eyes, and bury  his head in his hands. “The economy’s a fickle, unrelenting bastard. None of us know what’s going on.”

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The President himself, taking a few questions from Camp David Saturday, addressed the job news directly. “Look. Would we have wanted the jobs numbers to be higher? Yes, of course. But people forget that we added 96,000 jobs last month. It’s a big number. In fact, the way I see it, it’s not so much that we added too few jobs, it’s that we just have far too many Americans. It’s arithmetic.”

The Romney camp, for its part, took the jobs report as an opportunity to highlight how policies the candidate implemented as Governor have resulted in Massachusetts’ currently low level of unemployment. Said campaign press secretary Victoria Taylor, speaking Sunday on NPR, “He was for fewer regulations, and lower taxes, and that’s helped the state’s small businesses. Small businesses like The Ocean Golf and Country Club in Chatham, which has, in just the last year, hired over a dozen bathroom attendants, many of whom are ‘Ethnic-Americans’.”

Obama continues his campaign Monday in Ohio; Romney has no scheduled events.


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