US Jobs Numbers Fuel Presidential Campaign Rhetoric

A supporter uses her personalized mobile phone to take a picture of U.S. President Barack Obama as he speaks at a campaign event at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida, September 9, 2012.
A supporter uses her personalized mobile phone to take a picture of U.S. President Barack Obama as he speaks at a campaign event at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida, September 9, 2012.
Michael Bowman
Economic concerns are dominating the U.S. presidential contest, days after a monthly labor report showed weak job creation and hundreds of thousands of Americans leaving the workforce.

Friday’s disappointing jobs numbers are playing into a central argument put forth by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“We are not creating as many jobs to keep up with our population growth," said Romney. "This is not the kind of news the American people were hoping for and deserve. But I am here to tell you that things are about to get a lot better.”

Romney told supporters in Virginia he will revive America’s slow-growth economy if he is elected president in November.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama acknowledged U.S. economic woes while campaigning in Florida.

“Nobody is satisfied with the status quo," said Obama. "There are too many folks out there who still need a job. And the question is not whether we need to make more progress. The question is how do we do it.”

In an election expected to turn on economic sentiment, the candidates are offering sharply different plans to boost growth and create jobs.  The president wants to allow taxes to rise on top earners while boosting infrastructure and education spending.  Former Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee spoke on the U.S. television program Fox News Sunday.

“I do not believe that having the [income tax] rates go back to what they were in the 90s will have any negative impact that is significant on the economy," he saud. "And you can use the money for things that are important, like cutting taxes for businesses that hire people.”

By contrast, Mitt Romney wants to further cut federal income taxes across the board while boosting military spending. Romney economic adviser Glenn Hubbard also appeared on Fox.

“We have very anemic growth in the U.S. economy," said Hubbard. "We could do better with much better policy. Romney is proposing tax reform, regulatory reform, a wise budget strategy, and trade.  The president has proposed tax increases.”

On the campaign trail, President Obama summed up the Republican approach this way:

“Tax cuts, tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and then let us have some more tax cuts," he said. "Tax cuts when times are good. Tax cuts when times are bad. Tax cuts to lose an extra few pounds. Tax cuts to improve your love life.”

Mitt Romney is keeping the focus on President Obama’s economic record and a stubbornly-high unemployment rate.

“We remember that the president promised that if we let him borrow almost a trillion dollars [for economic stimulus spending], he would never let it reach eight percent," said Romney. "It has been above eight percent ever since. He does not have a plan.  And we have got to make sure he does not have any more days in the White House after January.”

Public-opinion polls consistently show the economy as voters’ top concern. Polls show most Americans do not believe President Obama created current U.S. economic woes, but that not enough has been done to correct them during his administration.

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