Key Dem Senator: Obama ‘snookered’ by GOP into talking deficit over jobs

By Sahil Kapur
Friday, June 10, 2011 9:25 EDT
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WASHINGTON – Urging the administration to enact new measures to lower the unemployment rate, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) said President Barack Obama got “snookered” by Republicans into prioritizing deficits over jobs.

“I am concerned about the Obama administration’s approach on this,” Harkin, the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, told The Hill in an interview published Friday. “It always has been about jobs. I think the administration kind of got snookered talking about the deficit and the debt after the last election.”

Amidst growing economic anxieties, Harkin joined Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) in calling for additional stimulus spending in the form of a major infrastructure package.

“The last election was about jobs and the economy, and now we’re in a position where we really do need some economic pump-priming by the federal government,” Harkin told the paper.

Job creation in May was the lowest since last September as the unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent. The Obama administration has — under intense pressure from Republicans — shifted its focus from job creation to deficit reduction this year, against the vocal objections of progressive economics and polls that say the public is far more concerned about jobs than the debt.

[h/t Greg Sargent]

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