Dems' 'New Direction' for Economy Is 'Straight Down,' GOP Says

By Randy Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - While hailing the drop in the nation's unemployment rate to a five-year low, Republicans on Friday claimed that if Democrats take control of Congress in the Nov. 7 midterm election, that party's "New Direction" for the economy will be "straight down."

"Under Republican House leadership, our economy has seen unprecedented growth and prosperity," House Speaker Dennis Hastert said in a news release after the U.S. Labor Department announced that the country added 92,000 jobs in October, pushing the jobless rate down to 4.4 percent, its lowest level since May of 2001.

"We have seen more than 6.6 million jobs created since Republicans enacted our tax cuts in 2003," the Illinois Republican said. "The unemployment rate remains lower than the average rate of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s."

"We've seen 38 straight months of job growth," U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao noted while announcing the new figures. "And job growth over the prior two months was also more robust than previously thought -- 378,000 net new jobs were added in August and September."

Hastert added that the Dow Jones Industrial Average "has just hit record highs and continues climbing. We have cut the federal deficit in half three years ahead of schedule, and gas prices continue to drop while income and wages continue to rise."

"Only a Democrat-controlled Congress can kill this growth," he asserted. "Democrats want to talk about their 'New Direction,' but the only direction their plan will take the economy is straight down."

Also looking at Friday's economic news through the prism of next week's midterm election was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who noted that "the Bush economy created only 92,000 jobs in October, fewer than expected and nearly 40 percent less than is needed just to keep pace with population growth."

"While we are glad there is some good news for the American people, this jobs report does not fundamentally change the fact that President Bush's handling of the economy is not good for America's middle-income families," the California Democrat said in a press release.

"The president has the worst jobs record since the Great Depression, and the economy is slowing due to the housing slump," Pelosi said. "The budget and trade deficits as well as public debt levels have all climbed to record levels.

"Millions of Americans are working hard and are unable to get ahead," she added. "For the first time in generations, parents worry that their children will not be better off than they are. Working families are being squeezed as their earnings do not meet their needs.

"Democrats are offering a new direction for America that will provide real tax relief to middle-income families, spur economic growth that will produce good-paying American jobs, and we will do it in a fiscally responsible way," Pelosi said.

"And Democrats will ensure that strong economic growth benefits all Americans, not just the privileged few," she claimed.

"Today's announcement that the U.S. unemployment rate has plunged to 4.4 percent should be heralded from Wall Street to Main Street," Hastert responded.

"Nancy Pelosi will tell you this is a stalled economy, but it's her plan to raise taxes and end this record-setting economy that will be stalled when voters return Republicans to the majority on Tuesday," he added.

Jared Bernstein, director of the Living Standards program at the pro-labor Economy Policy Institute (EPI), pointed out on the organization's website that not all of Friday's economic news was positive.

"Private-sector job gains were only 58,000, the lowest month for job growth in a year," Bernstein said. "Outside of some key sectors that are clearly underperforming --residential housing, manufacturing, and retail -- the job market remains relatively strong, with unemployment low and wage gains that are likely to beat inflation.

"There are some signs, however, that the slowing economy is beginning to reach the job market," he noted. "If this pattern persists, unemployment will eventually reverse course as the job market slackens.

"Factories shed 39,000 jobs last month, the worst monthly losses since August 2003," he noted, adding that Friday's numbers indicate "a jump of over 200,000 in the number of 'involuntary part-timers,' persons working part-time jobs though they would prefer full-time work."

Hastert countered that any weaknesses in the nation's economy would be overcome by further expansion due to the tax relief put in place in 2001 and 2003 by President Bush and the GOP-controlled Congress.

"House Republicans plan to make the tax cuts permanent -- to keep the economy growing," he noted. "House Democrats will take your tax cuts -- raising your taxes by $2,000.

"There could be no clearer difference between the two party philosophies -- and no clearer choice for America," Hastert added.

See Earlier Story:
Dems' 'New Direction' Points Toward Higher Taxes, Group Says

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