(Photo: Reuters / Shannon Stapleton)
Officials of the Obama administration went on Sunday talk shows to defend their record on the economy and job creation, arguing that bad luck and Republicans are to blame for the poor economy.
President Obama has been criticized recently for waiting to put forth a plan on job creation and economic growth until September, after he returns from a vacation in Martha's Vineyard.
With people suffering from the high rate of unemployment in the country, “if you have a jobs plan, put it out,” former Representative Harold Ford, Jr. (D-Tenn.) said on NBC's “Meet the Press.”
When asked why Obama has not already put forth a plan for job creation, Obama Campaign Adviser Robert Gibbs said on “Meet the Press” that the president has put forth plans, but because of the Tea Party, he cannot pass them.
“The president has outlined ideas every day he has been in the White House,” Gibbs said. “The question is, is there going to be a partner that can work with the president on those ideas, and the question the Republican party is going to have to ask themselves, quite simply, is, are they willing to set aside some party allegiance, are they willing to tell the Tea Party, that they're going to do what is best for the country, and not just what is necessarily what is best for their political party.”
Gibbs was then shown a clip from a February 1, 2009 interview on NBC, shortly after Obama became president, in which Obama said, “one nice thing about the situation I find myself in is that I will be held accountable … if I don't have this done in three years, then there's gonna be a one-term proposition.”
When asked if the president should be held to one term, Gibbs suggested that he should not because the current poor state of the economy is really the fault of Congress for not enacting the president's agenda.
“The question is whether or not we can take the ideas the president has, or anybody else has, and get them enacted by Congress. The president can't do all of this alone,” Gibbs said.
“Now wait a minute, Robert,” “Meet the Press” host Savannah Guthrie interrupted, “in the first part of his term he had huge majorities in the Senate, the House and the presidency.”
Gibbs then defended the first part of Obama's term and said the current economic woes have to do with the tsunami in Japan and Europe's economic problems, echoing a speech Obama gave earlier this week in which he blamed the current state of the economy on “a string of bad luck.”
“Right, and what happened in the first year of the presidency, Savannah?” Gibbs asked. “We went from negative nine percent economic growth and in the last quarter of 2009 we had a positive 4 percent economic growth. ... We continue to have a challenging economy. We had an earthquake in Japan that continues to mess up the supply chain. We've seen Europe face a severe debt crisis.”
David Axelrod, a senior strategist for the Obama reelection campaign, echoed the same themes in an interview on CNN's “State of the Union.”
“We've taken some big hits in the last six months that nobody could have anticipated – the Arab Spring and its impact on oil prices, the Japanese earthquake, and the problems that Europe is experiencing now, have all impacted on our economy,” Axelrod said.
Conservative commentator George Will, on the other hand, criticized President Obama on ABC's “This Week” for not taking some responsibility for the current economy. “The president said it's the Arab Spring, it's the Japanese tsunami, it's oil prices, it's ATMs, and airport kiosks that have taken jobs. Nothing is his responsibility and that does not sound presidential,” Will argued.
Axelrod also appeared on “This Week” where host Jake Tapper asked if the Obama administration’s criticism of Republicans went too far. “Isn't the president implying that people who don't support his plans are less than patriotic?” Tapper asked.
Axelrod did not deny the accusation, but argued that it is the fault of Tea Party Republicans for not going along with the president’s plans, because those plans have “in the past garnered bipartisan support.”
“When people are willing to walk the country to the brink of default, when people, instead of saying, 'where there's a will there's a way' are saying 'it's my way or the highway,' you have to assume that politics is at play,” Axelrod said.
Axelrod and Gibbs did not specify the plan that Obama would lay out in September, but some of the ideas that Obama has already spoken about, and Axelrod and Gibbs brought up on Sunday include: extending the payroll tax cut, reforming the patent system, establishing an infrastructure bank, and implementing trade deals with other nations.
Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman also appeared on Sunday talk shows and discussed what they would do to help the economy if they were president.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, appearing on Fox News Sunday, said he would repeal Obamacare, reduce the corporate tax rate to zero for all domestic manufacturers, and increase domestic energy production.
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, appearing on ABC's “This Week,” said he would “create a competitive tax code,” reduce government regulation, and move toward energy independence. We must “wean ourselves away from this heroin like addiction to imported oil,” Huntsman said.