Obama report: 95,000 jobs to come each month
Eds: EDITS to tighten, ADDS context. Moving on general news and financial services.
The United States is likely to add an average of 95,900 more jobs each month this year, while personal savings will remain high as credit remains tight, according to a White House report released Thursday.
With the public souring on Obama's handling of the economy, the White House's Council of Economic Advisers' report trumpeted the $787 billion economic stimulus package as creating or saving some 2 million jobs. Facing a tough election season for fellow Democrats, Obama's team used its annual report to blame the economy they inherited. The report is required by law within 10 days of the White House's budget proposals.
Obama called on lawmakers to pass a jobs bill to help the economy recovery — and to help incumbents from both parties keep their jobs come November.
In a message to Congress, President Barack Obama looked back at the challenges and ahead to his agenda for dragging the country out of its recession.
"I can report that over the past year, this work has begun. In the coming year, this work continues," Obama said in a letter he sent to the Capitol attached to his economic update to lawmakers. "But to understand where we must go in the next year and beyond, it is important to remember where we began one year ago."
Casting its first year as positive, the administration's 462-page report served as a summary of its logic and a pitch for Obama's future agenda. The economic report to the president is an annual document prepared by the Council of Economic Advisers, the White House's three-person internal think tank.
Recognizing that voters were likely to hold Obama responsible for the economy, the White House team cast blame on their predecessors and unpopular Wall Street bankers.
"I think there's just no way to understate how huge the economic challenges facing the country have been this past year," said Christina Romer, head of the Council of Economic Advisers.
It's not clear whether that strategy would resonate with voters. Republicans were quick to describe the document as propaganda masquerading as governing.
"The Obama administration's report is full of blame for the policies of years past, praise for its own failed policies of the past year and promises about their ideological agenda to grow government," said Republican House Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia.
"Instead of praising themselves and blaming others, a greater focus on small businesses and smart solutions to reduce uncertainty and create jobs would be welcomed and is long overdue," Cantor said.
The White House defended its report, casting it as a summary of the administration's approach to an economy that was on the brink of collapse when Obama took office just more than a year ago.
"We didn't need a report from Dr. Romer to justify taking extraordinary action to save our economy; 763,000 people in January of 2009 lost their job," press secretary Robert Gibbs said. "I don't think you need more evidence that something had to be done."
Indeed, even adding an average of 95,000 jobs each month, unemployment is likely to remain around 10 percent through this year and not fall below 6 percent until 2015, the report said. And while Americans are likely to save more for big-ticket items such as homes or cars, it means a slower recovery for a nation that has lost 8.4 million net jobs since this recession began in December 2007.
Mark Zandi, founder of Moody's Economy.com and a frequent adviser to lawmakers, said the White House economic projections track his own. A jobs bill worth $100 billion to $150 billion, he said, would help lower unemployment rates.
That also lines up with a bipartisan Senate proposal that promises to add 80,000 to 180,000 jobs over a year.
Americans, meanwhile, would continue to save at high rates — somewhere in the 4 percent to 7 percent range — until the financial services sector eases lending.