Republicans scramble after canceling unemployment benefits fails to spur job growth

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GOP lawmakers say vaccines and 'socialism' are to blame for September's lower-than-expected jobs numbers.

For months, Republican lawmakers have been claiming federal pandemic unemployment benefits were keeping Americans from rejoining the workforce. Now that the temporary supplements have expired, they are shifting to new lies to blame President Joe Biden for unemployment.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that 194,000 jobs had been added to the economy in September. While this puts the total number of jobs created since Biden took office in January at nearly 5 million, the latest number of new jobs was lower than it had been in recent months.

As the People's Policy Project think tank noted Friday, September was the first month since the $1,200-a-month supplement under Biden's American Rescue Plan and other pandemic relief programs for unemployed Americans expired. More than 8 million Americans lost their benefits at the end of August, and, according to the think tank's analysis, "194,000 jobs is equal to less than 3 percent of the people who were removed from the UI rolls in September. At this rate, it would take 3.5 years for jobs-added to equal the number of people who lost their pandemic UI benefits."

Since the relief package's enactment in March, Republicans had been attacking those benefits and falsely claiming that businesses were unable to fill jobs because the federal government was incentivizing people to stay home.

They continued to use this baseless line of argument even after some GOP-controlled states ended the benefits early and saw no significant difference in the number of people hired.

Now, without the additional unemployment benefits to blame, congressional Republicans have found new ways to belittle Biden over the 194,000 new jobs created in September.

Some suggested that his not-yet-implemented COVID-19 safety rules were the problem.

"Our economy is hurting, and still @JoeBiden wants to force private businesses to mandate vaccines and fire Americans who won't comply," Florida Sen. Rick Scott tweeted. "He clearly doesn't understand how the economy works."

"500,000 jobs expected, only 194,000 delivered. @JoeBiden's presidency is a complete embarrassment," complained Florida Rep. Byron Donalds. "He's so focused on keeping our borders open and enforcing tyrannical mandates, that he's leaving Americans struggling."

But while Biden has announced a safety rule requiring workers at businesses with 100 employees or more to provide proof of vaccination or a weekly negative coronavirus test, his administration has not yet put that requirement into effect.

Others blamed Biden's economic agenda, even though Congress has yet to enact either his $3.5 trillion Build Back Better jobs package or his $550 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

"The worst jobs report of the year. When will @POTUS and Washington Democrats admit that their extreme socialist agenda is failing the American people?" wrote Georgia Rep. Buddy Carter.

"Joe Biden's Jobs Crisis is getting worse. The latest jobs report fell far short of expectations, and the president continues to over promise and underdeliver," said fellow Georgia Rep. Drew Ferguson. "Clearly, his big government, trillion dollar, socialist plans aren't working."

Republicans are unanimously opposed to the Build Back Better package, and most oppose the bipartisan infrastructure package as well — and are actively trying to defeat both.

After the nation lost a net 3 million jobs over the course of Donald Trump's presidency, the number of jobs added under Biden is over 4 million. The current 4.8% unemployment rate is down from 6.3% when he Biden took office in January.

Analysts say one thing Congress could do to speed up job growth is to pass Biden's economic agenda.

According to a September analysis by the progressive Economic Policy Institute, passage of the two bills would "provide fiscal support for more than 4 million jobs per year, on average, over the course of the 10-year budgeting window, through direct spending and increased indirect demand in related industries."

The Build Back Better plan would also provide billions to expand affordable child care and paid leave, making it easier for parents to rejoin and stay in the workforce.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.