With more than 12 million Americans out of work, President Obama has decided to shut down his Jobs Council.
The White House announced Thursday that Mr. Obama would not extend authorization for the council, which he created two years ago. Its authority expired Thursday, a day after the government reported that the economy contracted in the fourth quarter of 2012.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Mr. Obama never intended the council to go beyond its original two-year mandate. He said the administration would "launch a new effort" to encourage business leaders to create more jobs.
Congressional Republicans said the petering out of the ineffective panel was typical of Mr. Obama's weak record on job creation.
"To understand the abysmal nature of our economic recovery, look no further than the president's disinterest in learning lessons from actual job creators," said Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican. "Whether ignoring the group or rejecting its recommendations, the president treated his Jobs Council as more of a nuisance than a vehicle to spur job creation."
Mr. Obama filled the panel with economists and business leaders such as General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, with the intention of finding new ways to work with the business community to create jobs. But the council instead became a symbol of the administration's inability to reduce unemployment significantly, and the group met in full only four times over two years, most recently in February 2012.
The nation's unemployment has dropped from 9 percent to 7.8 percent since Mr. Obama formed the council, but there are still about 12.2 million people without jobs, with millions more either underemployed or leaving the labor force entirely.
The White House reacted defensively to critiques of the Jobs Council's effectiveness. Mr. Carney blasted "ridiculous criticisms" from congressional Republicans, whom he said had blocked the president's legislative proposals to create more jobs.
"Time after time, Republicans have opposed those measures," Mr. Carney said.
When reporters persisted with questions about why the council didn't produce more results, Mr. Carney said, "this fixation on an entity that the president himself created conveniently ignores all the work that the president has done towards creating jobs and fostering economic growth."
A statement from the White House said the new effort to promote job growth would focus on "expanding new skills and talent initiatives, promoting entrepreneurship and small businesses, expediting permitting for infrastructure projects across the country, and continuing progress on fiscal issues and tax reform."
Mr. Obama's move comes a day after a report that U.S. economic growth unexpectedly ground to a halt at the end of last year, falling from a healthy 3.1 percent gain in the summer to a 0.1 percent contraction in the final quarter.
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