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House GOP Leaders Hit Obama Over Rising Unemployment

House Republican leaders took after President Barack Obama’s economic policies Friday after new job figures showed unemployment rising for the first time in four months.

The Department of Labor reported Friday that unemployment rose to 9.6 percent in August, up from 9.5 percent in July. On the positive side, however, the private sector hired more workers over the past three months than was expected.

House Minority Leader John Boehner said the news of “another disappointing jobs report” is proof that Obama must take a different tack to speed up the economic recovery.

“It is time for him to change course, abandon his job-killing policies and find himself a new economic team,” the Ohio Republican said.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor said the job figures show that Democratic policies are creating “uncertainty and fear that is inhibiting productivity, innovation and job creation.”

Specifically, the Virginia Republican said, employers are uneasy because they “don’t know which burdensome tax hike, regulation or mandate will come next, and therefore are reluctant to hire new employees, assume risk and make investments — all crucial components of any economic recovery.”

Boehner and Cantor both criticized Obama and Congressional Democratic leaders for not moving to extend the Bush tax cuts, set to expire in January.

Doing so would be akin to “implementing one of the largest tax hikes in American history. … That’s exactly the wrong prescription for what’s ailing this country,” Cantor said.

White House officials put a positive spin on the employment situation in August.

“Today’s employment report was better than expected,” said Christina Romer, chairwoman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.

“Private sector payrolls increased by 67,000 in August — the eighth consecutive month of private sector job growth,” she said. “Against the backdrop of some unsettling economic data in the past few weeks, today’s numbers are reassuring that growth and recovery are continuing.”

Still, Romer conceded that unemployment rose slightly and said more needs to be done to speed job growth.

“The president continues to work with his economic team and with Congress to identify measures that could help speed the recovery and put the economy on a path of steadily declining unemployment,” she said.

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