WASHINGTON (AP) - Rep. Kristi Noem on Tuesday criticized the Democrats’ handling of the economy, saying South Dakota’s low unemployment rate is proof that her Republican Party is a better steward of the nation’s finances.
The South Dakota Republican joined House Speaker John Boehner and other members of House Republican leadership at a news conference at the Capitol on Tuesday in which they took aim at President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders. The event was set to highlight Republican jobs initiatives in Congress and to discuss the national job report for December, which was released last week.
“South Dakota right now has an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent. … We’re one of the fastest- growing states in the country,” Noem said. “And we have a Republican governor.
Noem said she was disappointed by the job report, which showed the unemployment rate had dropped to 6.7 percent but that the economy had created only 74,000 jobs. She said that was proof that Democrats were not doing enough to spur economic growth.
“We have 5 million people in this country that are unemployed, 3.7 million that have been unemployed for over six months,” Noem said. “I’d like all of you to take a few minutes today and just think about how you would deal with losing your job for six months, how you would pay your bills, how you’d feed your family, how you’d plan for your future.”
Noem made no reference to extending long-term unemployment benefits, which expired in December. Obama and Senate Democrats have been pushing to pass a fresh extension this year but the Republican-controlled House has been resistant.
Democrats have defended their handling of the economy, saying December was an outlier after months of steady job growth. They have also noted that the unemployment rate is at its lowest point since Oct. 2008, before President Barack Obama took office.
Democrats have also pointed to overall long term growth in the job market, noting that U.S. employers have added more than 2 million jobs in each of the past two years, for an average of roughly 182,000 jobs a month.
Outside analysts also blamed frigid and snowy December weather for part of the month’s lackluster numbers.
“If we want to truly give our young folks a shot at the American dream again, it’s not going to be through a welfare program, through a government-run program …” she said. “And we’ve got proof in what we’re seeing in a lot of these Republican governor states. And that’s why you’ll continue to see the Republican conference push on the bills and the ideas that we brought forward.