POSTED: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - 6:00pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - 6:04pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke offered no immediate solutions to America's struggling economy Tuesday, disappointing investors and some members of Congress.
Bernanke offered a sour assessment of the economy to the Senate Banking Committee, evidenced by slow job growth and little consumer spending.
He says the Federal Reserve is ready to take more steps to boost the economy, but offered no specifics.
"We have said we are prepared to take further action...the complication of course is that we are dealing with less conventional tools," Mr. Bernanke said.
Bernanke said the Fed can only do so much, and warned the economy will struggle further if Congress fails to reach a budget deal.
That led to finger-pointing by both parties, and some predicting little cooperation to come.
"In this election year, I'm afraid I fear the fed is the only game in town," said Senator Chuck Schumer.
Mitt Romney, campaigning in Pennsylvania, says the Fed's report is more proof the Obama economic plan isn't working.
"His policies did not help create jobs, they depressed job creation, and that's why we're still struggling with so many out of work," Mr. Romney said.
The president, courting voters in Texas, says the answer is not tax benefits for the rich.
"I want to end tax breaks for companies that are shipping jobs overseas," Mr. Obama said. "Let's give tax breaks to companies that are investing right here in Texas, right here in the United States of America, let's put Americans back to work."
Both candidates are offering plans to help the economy, which grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the last half of 2011 but has slowed to below 2-percent recently.
It's unlikely the Federal Reserve will take any action at its next meeting at the end of July, but if the economy continues to weaken, steps may be taken at the board's mid-September meeting.