White House disbands jobs council despite slow employment growth
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The White House on Thursday disbanded President Barack Obama's jobs council, a group of high-profile chief executives who gave advice on how to spur employment growth, even as 12 million Americans remain out of work.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the council was set up with a two-year lifespan that was now expiring.
But Republicans quickly pounced on its demise as sign that Obama lacked credibility on jobs, noting it came the day after data showed the US economy contracted in the fourth quarter.
In place of the jobs council, the administration said it will begin an expanded effort to work with the business community and other groups to boost economic growth, cut debt and fix a broken immigration system.
"It's a broad engagement strategy to make sure the president's message is getting out to the American people, because with their voices involved we think that we can still do big things," Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, his point person on working with business, told Reuters in a recent interview.
The jobs council, chaired by Jeff Immelt of General Electric , had not met with Obama for more than a year.
From its start, it was an easy target for critics because its ability to act was limited, and its mandate was to serve a modest advisory role to the president.
The US jobless rate hangs stubbornly at 7.8 percent, down from a peak of 10 percent in the depth of the recession after Obama took office in January 2009. Economists expect a report on Friday to show little improvement.
"Over the past four years, President Obama has seemed far more interested in political show votes and tax gimmicks than actually focusing on what Americans need: more jobs," said Senator Mitch McConnell, top Republican in the Senate.
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