Today, the Labor Department reported that the economy lost 598,000 jobs in January, the worst monthly jobs loss since 1974. 1.8 million jobs have been lost in the last three months alone, and U.S. unemployment now stands at 7.6 percent, the highest in nearly two decades.
While President Obama and congressional Democrats are pushing for a recovery and reinvestment plan that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicts would create up to 3.6 million jobs by next year, Republicans are stonewalling action to help the economy recover. Even as millions of Americans are losing their jobs, conservative Senators insist that there’s no rush to help them:
LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We do not need any more news conferences. What we need is getting more than 16 people in a room. We need to slow down, take a timeout, and get it right.
ROGER WICKER (R-MS): As Thomas Jefferson reminded Americans in his day — and I quote — “Delay is preferable to error.” Let’s not rush into doing this the wrong way.
JOHN ENSIGN (R-NV): So we need to act much more responsibly than this bill acts. It’s still time. There is no hurry.
TOM COBURN (R-OK): There’s no reason for us to hurry up, number one. There’s no reason for us not to look at every area of this bill and make sure the american people know about it.
Watch a compilation:
Speaking to House Democrats last night, Obama emphasized that the soaring jobless rates “aren’t just statistics”; they’re real people who are counting on Washington to reinvest in America’s economic future — and to do it now:
[T]hese aren’t just statistics. This is not a game. This is not a contest for who’s in power and who’s up and who’s down. These are your constituents. These are families you know and you care about. [...]
We’re not moving quickly because we’re trying to jamb something down people’s throats. We’re moving quickly because we’re told that if we don’t move quickly, that the economy is going keep on getting worse, and we’ll have another 2 or 3 or 4 million jobs loss this year.
I’d love to be leisurely about this. … We’re not doing this because we think this is a lark. We’re doing this because people are counting on us.