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“Don’t Muck it Up,” Obama Warns Congress

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- Encouraged by the latest employment statistics Friday, President Obama said to Congress on the economic recovery: “Don’t muck it up.”

The Labor Department announced that the economy created 243,000 jobs in January, better than most economists’ expectations. Unemployment dropped to 8.3%, marking the fifth straight month the highly watched index has decreased. Republicans say the uptick is not enough to signal the robust economic growth the country needs.

“The economy is growing stronger. The recovery is speeding up. And we’ve got to do everything in our power to keep it going,” the president said at Fire Station #5 in Arlington, Va., where firefighters were among the first to respond to the Pentagon on 9/11.

The president called on lawmakers to extend the payroll tax cut through the end of the year and to “do it without drama.”

“They just need to get it done. It shouldn’t be that complicated. Now is not the time for self-inflicted wounds to our economy. Now’s the time for action. So I want to send a clear message to Congress. Do not slow down the recovery that we’re on. Don’t muck it up.”

The economy has now created more than 200,000 jobs for two months in a row and the president pointed out that 3.7 million new jobs have been created over the last 23 months.

Still, other data suggests that more than one million Americans have dropped out of the labor force, meaning according to the Labor Department, they're no longer unemployed -- but as CNBC's Rick Santelli and other experts point out, they haven't found jobs, either.

The president’s remarks came as he outlined his latest plan to help veterans get back to work. “Our veterans are some of the most highly trained, highly educated, highly skilled workers that we’ve got. These are Americans that every business should be competing to attract. These are the Americans we want to keep serving here at home as we rebuild this country,” the president said.

Following up on a proposal in his State of the Union address, the president announced plans for a “Veterans Job Corps” to help veterans find work as first responders and law enforcement officers. He proposed a conservation program to put up to 20,000 veterans back to work restoring the nation’s public lands.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that when our troops come home, they come home to new jobs and new opportunities and new ways to serve their country.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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