Republicans are deliberately trying to stymie job creation and U.S. economic growth in order to damage President Barack Obama’s reelection chances, a top Obama campaign surrogate charged Friday.
Just minutes before the Labor Department released data showing the unemployment rate falling below 8 percent for the first time in more than three years, Maryland’s Democratic governor Martin O’Malley told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that the Republican-led Congress was engaged in “a political calculation…that if they could slow the job growth before the election, they could hurt the president’s reelection.” (Read more: JobsGrowth Rises 114,000 as Rate Slides to 7.8 Percent.)
O'Malley's broadside is not a new one, however, as other prominent Democrats have made similar suggestions. When President Obama introduced his $819 billion stimulus package in January 2009, no Congressional Republicans supported the bill. That led to frequent Democratic criticisms that the GOP was being "obstructionist".
“If you look at the several jobs bills that the president has sent to the Hill, the Republican party voted absolutely against them,” O’Malley said. “Every single time their party voted against them.”
Some observers contend the unemployment data's import is far more political than economic, coming against an increasingly acrimonious battle between Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. Both are jockeying for position in key states, with the sluggish economy taking center stage in the campaign. (Read more: Obama Town Hall: Defending His Record on Economy, Jobs.)
When challenged on his assertion, O’Malley – head of the Democratic Governors Association and a close White House ally – insisted that President Obama has introduced a number of jobs initiatives that have not garnered GOP support.
“There is no bill [that Republicans would co-sign], because they’re trying to slow the economy before the election,” said O’Malley. “The president has shown his willingness to compromise, sometimes to a much greater degree than some would deem is prudent.”
O’Malley said while private sector jobs were being created at a healthy clip, a more “balanced approach” was needed to help preserve public sector positions, many of which were shed in the wake of the recession.