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GOP Blasts Stimulus Success as Unemployment Rate Rises

Updated: 1:20 p.m.

House Republicans on Thursday ripped Democrats over their economic recovery plans as the national unemployment rate climbed to 9.5 percent in June, the highest in 26 years.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) criticized Democrats for touting the success of February’s economic stimulus legislation given the new Labor Department figures showing another 467,000 jobs lost last month.

“Today’s employment report reminds us that spending, taxing and borrowing with reckless abandon is no way to create more jobs, yet that is exactly what Democrats in charge of Washington have done all year long,— Boehner charged.

Boehner’s shop moved fast to illustrate his point by releasing a new Web video with a job-sniffing GOP bloodhound named Ellie Mae and a “down-home voice-over— by Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.).

In the video, bloodhounds follow “the stimulus money trail— in search of millions of new jobs and instead end up at locations where stimulus dollars led to few jobs. The spot highlights stimulus dollars being used to repair a bridge in Wisconsin that carries 260 cars per day and to hire a North Carolina worker whose job is to apply for more stimulus funds.

Boehner said the tongue-in-cheek video was inspired by a well-known 1984 TV commercial by now-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

“After five months of the so-called stimulus, Americans are left with just one question: Where are the jobs?— Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.) asked.

Price complained that unemployment continues to grow despite the Obama administration having “assured us its bloated spending package would halt unemployment at 8 percent.—

For their part, Democratic leaders appeared to stay focused on their ongoing efforts to revive the economy.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the spike in unemployment is yet another reminder of the failed economic policies put into place by the Bush administration. Pelosi sought to tie an economic turnaround to passage of Democrats’ top two priorities this year: health care reform and climate change legislation.

“Last week, the House passed a comprehensive energy solution that will create millions of clean energy jobs, and we will reform our health care system to lower costs for America’s families and businesses,— Pelosi said.

A Pelosi aide called the GOP attacks on stimulus efforts “another fairly depressing political strategy from the House Republican Conference— and knocked Boehner’s video.

“Looks like the hound couldn’t track down any of the police officers, teachers or nurses who are working today because of the Recovery Act, or the construction workers working on more than 1,900 highway projects already under way across the country,— spokesman Nadeam Elshami said.

Over at the White House, Obama planned to sit down with business leaders to discuss job creation and long-term solutions for strengthening the economy. The invited CEOs, who represent small and large companies, will talk about what steps they have taken to increase productivity amid the recession.

A new CNN/ORC poll suggests that Americans are also skeptical about Democrats’ plans for reviving the economy: Just 1 in 8 thinks economy recovery is under way.

According to the June 26-28 survey, 12 percent think the economy is starting to recover from problems in the past year. That compares to 48 percent who think things have stabilized but not improved and 40 percent who think the economy is still in a downturn.

Support for President Barack Obama’s overall economic plan also appears to be slipping: 58 percent said they generally support Obama’s plan, compared to 65 percent in March.

“The American people do not support a government health care plan that will increase costs, reduce patient choice and flexibility, and lower the quality of care available in our country. The American people do not support the radical cap-and-tax plan which will impose a hard-hitting tax upon families and small businesses costing our struggling economy thousands of jobs,— House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said.

“At some point, even the Speaker must realize that enough is enough,— Cantor said.

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