On the eve of Labor Day weekend, House party leaders were racing to put their best spin on the August unemployment rate rising to 9.7 percent, a 26-year high.Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) stressed Friday that “economists agree— that the $787 billion stimulus bill passed earlier this year was crucial to preventing a “severe economic collapse— and is helping to end the current recession. Specifically, she said, the bill cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans, provided new opportunities for capital to small businesses and created new infrastructure jobs.“We have a long way to go; but fortunately, President [Barack] Obama and Congressional Democrats acted decisively earlier this year, and the results are beginning to show,— Pelosi said.House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the job numbers are “disappointing— but said the economy is on the up and up.“This month’s job losses continue a pattern of improvement: In fact, August was the month with the fewest job losses in a year. Rebounds in the stock and housing markets, and a stabilizing GDP, all give us reason to believe that we are on the road to recovery,— said Hoyer. Republicans, meanwhile, used the job figures to attack Democrats’ plans for health care reform and climate change.“Washington Democrats must listen to the American people and abandon their plans to impose a job-killing government takeover of health care and a new job-killing national energy tax,— said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).Boehner said the stimulus bill was a failure because, since it passed, millions of jobs have been lost and unemployment has soared to nearly 10 percent.“Some data suggests that the economy may be bottoming out, but the fact of the matter is, the stimulus was too slow, didn’t prevent the unemployment rate from rising above 8 percent as promised, and has not helped American families and small businesses while adding to a nearly $2 trillion deficit,— said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the ranking House Republican on the Joint Economic Committee.The National Republican Congressional Committee, meanwhile, used the unemployment figures to take aim at 52 Democrats, many of whom are freshmen, for defending a “jobless recovery— while their constituents suffer.“Larry Kissell’s continued support for his party leaders’ destructive economic agenda has done nothing to help the ailing economy,— states an e-mail sent out in Kissell’s North Carolina district. “How much higher does unemployment have to rise before he will finally make his constituents a higher priority than Nancy Pelosi’s political agenda?—Democrats targeted by the NRCC include House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (Wis.) and Reps. Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.), Steve Driehaus (Ohio), Alan Grayson (Fla.), Tom Perriello (Va.), Allen Boyd (Fla.) and Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.).