Washington (CNN) – One of President Obama’s top economic advisers suggested Sunday that the economy still has a ways to go to turn around a bleak unemployment situation. At the same time, Lawrence Summers suggested that the White House’s efforts were being stymied by Republican opposition on Capitol Hill.
Watch: Summers on jobs
The economy gained 162,000 jobs in March, the Labor Department announced Friday. But even with that growth – which constituted the best monthly jobs report in three years – the national unemployment rate held steady at 9.7 percent.
Related on CNNMoney.com: March jobs report shows growth
“We’ve got a long way to go,” Lawrence Summers, Director of the White House National Economic Council, said on CNN’s State of the Union. “We’ve inherited a terrible situation, the most pressing economic problems since the Great Depression in our country. It is the president’s preoccupation to put people back to work.”
While acknowledging that the economic outlook is not where the White House would like it to be, Summers pointed out that the economy is doing better now than it was this time last year in terms of job growth, exports, and availability of credit.
“The trend has turned,” Summers told CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, “but to get back to the surface, we’ve got a long way to go and that’s what we’re fighting to do every day.”
In order to try to bring the unemployment rate down, Summers said the administration is taking five steps: (1) continuing to implement the approximately $800 billion stimulus package passed soon after President Obama took office, (2) implementing new measures including tax credits intended to encourage businesses to hire the unemployed, (3) additional support to protect workers in state and local government like teachers and firemen, (4) providing incentives for small businesses to expand, and (5) providing incentives to create “the new energy economy” that includes a focus on energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy.
Asked why the administration did not seem to be pointing to any new proposals intended to battle unemployment, Summers suggested that some of the White House’s economic agenda was being held hostage by Republicans in Congress.
“It is unacceptable,” he said of the 9.7 percent national unemployment rate. “And we’ve put forth a whole set of proposals on which - the opposition in Congress has not allowed them to pass.” Summers pointed out that many of the economic proposals favored by the White House have already been passed by the House but not yet by the Senate.
“We are not complacent. We are not standing still. We are fighting to implement the programs that have already been legislated, to actually legislate the other programs that have been put forward, and to put forward new proposals,” he said.
Asked specifically whether the White House thought congressional Republicans were responsible for holding up job growth, Summers replied that there are important steps that would help with unemployment that are waiting on action by Congress.
“I can tell you that the majority of Congress is ready to go on those pieces of legislation,” he said.
"We have the majority in both houses, but it's those Republicans who won't do anything." I think that you just proved with the healthcare reform bill that you don't need the Republicans to pass your agenda, so that excuse is getting pretty lame. I guess the truth is you've run out of bribes for your own party members, so it's back to blame the opposition.
With McCain promising that there would be no republican cooperation on anything ... (and that helps America how? ) I foresee nothing but more obstruction ... the GOP will be too busy with their doomed-to-failure law suits and attempting to repeal the health care bill (check with Alf Landon to see how that works)
No matter what progress is made – the republicans will turn it into a negative – if you saw boehner at CPAC – he stated when republicans were elected -" not to expect results in less than two years" ... gee! They didn't even give President Obama two weeks before the complaints started!
What an unbelievable line of crap. I can only hope there are sincere Democrats that are objective enough to realize the chronic alibis this administration continues to use: "The Rep. keep holding us back...we inherited this problem..."
As they say. It's a start. Better than nothing!
"At the same time, Lawrence Summers suggested that the White House’s efforts were being stymied by Republican opposition on Capitol Hill."
YES! That's the message that needs to start getting out more; that all the Republican whining has not helped the situation at all, and that it's impeded certain aspects to the recovery that the current administration is trying to handle.
Get on the ball Democrats! You're desire to see social change and improvement in America is great, but your ability to get the message out and communicate is HORRIBLE!
It's nice for Larry Summers to point out the obvious. The question I want answered is when does this situation become Obama's? I'm getting a little tired of hearing "we inherited one of the worst situations in a long time". We are almost 15 months into this presidency; when do they start to accept this issue is now theirs?? I also want to know how many of those 167k jobs created were government jobs? If the private sector isn't hiring we are a long way from recovery!!
I am still waiting for the explanation on how we could have had growth but the rate stayed steady. Oxymorons just aren't my game.
If obama get get people back working again the gop will say hi ho silver tn russ and steele
The only ideas the Obama administration has is more massive corrupt spending and debt. It isn't the powerless Republicans who are slowing down a recovery its the total failure of the corrupt stimulous bill and the massive history breaking spending and debt that are now weighing down the economy. Wait until the costs from the massive corrupt healthcarebill start hitting the nation!!!!
Go back to the days before the stimulus passed and you will see that the "jobs created" figure released Friday is exactly where Obama said we would be if we did NOT not pass the stimulus.
Keep up the good work, you are unpresidented.
The economy is slowly improving because of the never yeilding spirit of the American People and has little to do with the "Throw Money at Every Thing" policies of the Obama Administration. With the small business sector scared to death of whatever Obama has in mind for them in the way of new taxes and controls, there will be little hiring anytime soon.
The citizens of a nation determine the health of its economy. Government interference is not what an unproductive nation needs.
It is the president’s preoccupation to put people back to work.”
Now that he has crammed through his unpopular job and economy killing health care insurance bill he's going to begin thinking about jobs? I hope they come up with something other than another ineffective spending bill. This spending is sucking the life out of any chance of a meaningful recovery anytime soon.
Yes we really need jobs. Ross Perol warned us about NAFTA & GAT. This was ignored by the Clinton Administration. When Walmart first opened Their motto was MADE IN AMERICA. We complained about their prices so Walmart begin to import from China and other countries with cheap goods some were poor quality, some even poisoned our pets. The money people wanted cheap labor, didn't want to pay Americans a living wage so what did big business do brought in illegals so they would"t have to pay Americans decent wages. Some jobs are gone for ever, are not coming back. We have to come up with new technology, inventions, new ideals, more focus on solar, windmills, medical research, improve our education.. It is a slow process, the world is manufacturing cars, machinery, steel, etc. STOP the blame game. Look at what caused the job losses. I go to the store and every thing is made some where else. WE BUY THE JUNK so who is responsible for the lack of jobs. We can't have it both ways. BUY AMERICAN. Stop blaming Pres Obama, we can blame ourselves
Republicans will do everything they can to block legislation that might bring down the unemployment rate because they think it's going to help them at the polls in November and 2012.
Even though the Republicans would like the economy to further fail, it has made some gains and that is a good sign.There is no magic snap of the fingers from the President that is going to create jobs and this will have to be a concentrated effort by every state and all elected officials. It is hard to have trust in investment when you have the right blocking any advancement and not allowing progress. The global supply and demand has dramatically changed and again that is not something on President can magically repair. The doom of the last eight years will take many more years to get back on track and the faster the President gets support the the greater the chance of a healthy economy. This could be worse, if McCain and palin would have won the Whitehouse it would have ended all hope. We know for a fact now, that Republicans have all the wrong answers for economic recovery and now is the time to get on board with the President and move forward.
We can add more Census workers an lower the UI rate. Hey we could all become Censusu workers and have full employment...There are two in my household. Both with real jobs paying taxes.
Democrats did not shy away from questionable procedures to pass the health bill Where did they suddenly find scruples? Was this not supposed to be Obama's no 1 priority that is after the health bill, the cap and trade, and the other one hundred and one issues important to him. Then he will get to jobs and the economy. The Democrats had a full majority to do whatever they please until recently and they still couldn't get it right. Why doesn't Geithner just tell the truth, jobs don't leave much of a legacy for a celebrity president?
Pass the Climate Energy Bill(Cap and trade) this will put the made back in America, goods jobs that can't be outsourced.
"Cap and Trade American made"