- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 8, 2012

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Sunday that Republicans would rather defeat President Obama than see the American economy improve.

“What’s really bothersome to me is that it almost seems like my Republican colleagues in Congress and Mitt Romney are rooting for economic failure,” the Florida congresswoman said in an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“They’ve been hyper-focused on one job, Barack Obama’s, for really the last two years. And we all need to be pulling together to focus on moving the economy forward for the middle class and for working families,” she said.

The congresswoman said Friday’s Department of Labor report of 120,000 jobs created in March — down from 200,000 new jobs in each of the previous three months — is still positive news for the administration.

“We’ve now had 25 straight months of private-sector job growth. … I’d say we’re making slow but steady progress,” Ms. Wasserman Schultz said.

Her comments were echoed later Sunday by Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the chamber’s second-ranking Democrat, who said the jobs numbers are an indication the country is “moving in the right direction.”

“We’ve had … seven straight months where the unemployment rate has either gone down or not gone up. We’ve had 26 months of economic growth. We’re on the right track,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

But on the same program, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, ripped the Obama administration’s handling of the economy, accusing it of merely piling up debt.

“Look, we don’t want to be Greece. We don’t want to be places where people are rioting because we waited so long to get things fixed,” said Mr. Kasich, who served in Congress from 1983 to 2001.

“When I was in D.C. … we balanced the budget in 1997 without a tax increase. The fact is ,they just want to keep spending in that city. And it’s not going to get us where we need to get.”

Unemployment nationwide dropped to 8.2 percent in March, according to Friday’s report, the lowest since the 7.8 percent it was when Mr. Obama took office in January 2009. The rate hit a high of 10 percent nine months later and was still at 9.1 percent just last August.

But the recent decreases mostly have been the result of fewer people searching for jobs as the long-term unemployed have simply left the labor force. Had the percentage of the adult population in the labor force been the same as when Mr. Obama took office, Friday’s unemployment rate would have been 10.9 percent.

Mr. Obama praised Friday’s jobs report while acknowledging that “there will still be ups and downs along the way.”

Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, though, called the numbers “weak and very troubling.”

“More and more people are growing so discouraged that they are dropping out of the labor force altogether,” he said.

House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said the report is more evidence of “President Obama’s failed economic policies.”

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