Merciless mocking from Republicans hasn't put President Obama off his focus on the economy, as the White House insisted Thursday that the president is taking "enormously seriously" the hardships Americans are enduring.
"It's patently obvious that the president is focused on the economy, that he takes enormously seriously the hardship that Americans continue to endure," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
Earlier in the week, at a jobs council meeting, the president was called out for saying that "shovel-ready projects' weren't quite as shovel-ready as he thought. Then later, in an interview with NBC News, Obama suggested that innovation and technology -- like job-stealing ATMs -- were reasons why the employment rate was not rebounding as quickly as he had hoped.
"There's some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers," Obama said after being asked about a report that shows businesses were spending 2 percent more on employees since the recession officially ended, but 26 percent more on equipment .
"You see it when you go to a bank and ... you use an ATM, you don't go to a bank teller. Or you go to the airport, and you're using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate," the president said.
Republicans, who are ratcheting up pressure on Democrats this week by highlighting the first anniversary of what was once dubbed "recovery summer," roasted the president for the comment.
"I didn't do it," read a "guest blog" posted on House Speaker John Boehner's site. The blog was signed by "the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in your favorite convenience store near the Slurpee Machine."
In the satirical post, the ATM author blamed high taxes, burdensome regulation and excessive spending for the slow jobs report. "ATMs and airport kiosks (and even teleprompters) are tools that help make life a little easier."
On Thursday, Boehner joined Republican lawmakers to scold Democrats for their "failure" to stimulate job growth and called on them to work with Republicans on a new jobs plan.
Republicans are drawing attention to the administration's "recovery summer" campaign last June, launched at the time to highlight stimulus-linked projects. Following that campaign, the 9.5 percent unemployment rate continued to rise for the rest of the year, and as of May has edged down to 9.1 percent.
That's not progress, Republicans say.
"Here we are on the anniversary of his administration's recovery summer ... and Americans are still asking the question, 'Where are the jobs?'" Boehner said. "The American people deserve some answers, but when it comes to this administration, it's clear that they don't have many."
Boehner also questioned the economy's strength after Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said at a forum Wednesday that Democrats "own the economy" and "own the beginning of the turnaround."
"Taxpayers are footing the bills for more bureaucrats while small businesses are afraid to hire. Washington Democrats say they own the economy, and this is what their economy looks like," he said.
The Obama administration has staunchly defended the performance of the stimulus.
An internal report from last fall said the stimulus program had met its goal of having 70 percent of its funding "outlayed and delivered in tax relief" by the end of September. Further, the report said the program "met every spending deadline Congress set" for obligating stimulus dollars.
The latest administration statistics show that as of early June, 75 percent of contracts, grants and loans through the stimulus have been paid out.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday put the onus on Republicans to help jump-start the economy, accusing them of economic inaction after nearly six months in power in the House.
"Instead, the Republicans have put forth a budget that ends Medicare, making seniors pay more to get less," Pelosi said. "Democrats are focused on creating jobs, strengthening the middle class."