- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 3, 2012

Just when the American economy was looking like a global bright spot, a spate of bad news last week showed that the U.S. also has succumbed to a major slowdown — sending President Obama and his team scrambling to explain Friday’s disappointing unemployment numbers.

“Nobody is happy with the rate of job creation today,” Steven Rattner, Mr. Obama’s former car czar, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“Obviously, the numbers this month were disappointing,” David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior campaign strategist, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

The economy, the president acknowledged after Friday’s Labor Department report, is “not growing as fast as we want it to grow.”

The news that job growth in May shrank to an anemic 69,000 is the latest evidence of a slowdown that economists blame on three key obstacles to global recovery: the spike in global oil prices, the European debt crisis and the looming possibility of a long-term debt deal stalemate in Washington.

"We gave the keys to the largest economy in the world to a person that did not have any previous executive experience." 
- Eric Fehrnstrom, a Mitt Romney campaign adviser
“We gave the keys to the largest economy in the world to ... more >

Those threats once again prompted businesses to pull back hiring in the spring, as they did last year, economists said.

Executives apparently feared that consumers would fold under the weight of pump prices around $4 a gallon on average in April, though they have fallen back since then. Meanwhile, they worried that demand for U.S. products overseas will be quashed by a recession in Europe and major slowdown in China, Brazil and elsewhere in the developing world.

Swift reaction

In Washington, Republican critics of Mr. Obama pounced on the disappointing numbers.

Eric Fehrnstrom, a Mitt Romney campaign adviser, said the president lacks the private business experience necessary to lead the U.S. economy.

“We gave the keys to the largest economy in the world to a person that did not have any previous executive experience,” he said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Ed Gillespie, senior adviser to the Romney campaign, told “Fox News Sunday” that job creators are getting “hammered” under Mr. Obama.

“This administration, the policies are hostile to job growth,” Mr. Gillespie said. “The only thing that’s going to change it is changing the policies, and that means changing the person in the White House.”

But economists said there’s more than politics at play.

“The U.S. economy can’t entirely remain an island in a sea of troubles,” said Cliff Walden, senior economist at the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation.

Story Continues →