President Obama used his weekly radio address Saturday to extend holiday greetings to Christians and Jews and to applaud hopeful signs of life in the economy.
"Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all those celebrating, here in America and around the world," the president said. He called the week one of celebration as Jewish families and friends gathered for Seders to commemorate the exodus from Egypt, while Christians on Sunday will mark the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
On a more secular note, Obama hailed a Labor Department report Friday showing that the U.S. added 162,000 jobs in March, the largest monthly increase in three years. The U.S. unemployment rate held steady, at 9.7 percent.
"All of us know how important work is -- not just for the paycheck, but for the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can provide for your family," the president said.
Given that, Obama said it was "heartening" to learn that the U.S. economy is starting to create jobs, rather than losing them.
"We have begun to reverse the devastating slide, but we have a long way to go to repair the damage from this recession, and that will continue to be my focus every single day," the president said.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who delivered the Republican response, used the opportunity to criticize Obama's policies on everything from financial regulation to health care. He assailed Obama's support for financial regulatory reforms pending in Congress, predicting the proposed changes will result in bailouts for troubled banks "using the taxpayer as Wall Street's financial lifeline."
McCarthy also complained that the administration is using unspent money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, as a "slush fund for more wasteful Washington spending." In contrast, McCarthy said congressional Republicans voted last fall to end the unpopular program and require that any unused funds help to pay down the federal debt.
Health-care legislation signed into law last month by Obama, which cleared Congress without a single Republican vote, drew renewed attack from McCarthy.
"The new law is just the latest in a series of anti-taxpayer policies coming out of Washington that is making it harder for Americans to save, invest, and hire, but it is by no means the last," McCarthy warned.