Obama, Romney see what they want in jobs report
BY BEN FELLER Associated Press
Saturday, August 04, 2012
8/04/12 at 5:43 AM
Read all the election
Related story: Hiring boosts markets.
WASHINGTON - Sputtering along, the economy on Friday offered some hope but no illuminating help to voters, who are mired in a weak jobs recovery and flooded with familiar promises from President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. The new employment snapshot seemed too mixed and middling to jolt a consistently close race.
Three months shy of Election Day, the latest numbers showed monthly job creation was higher than expected - but unemployment rose, too. That gave each candidate political room to see only what he wanted, and to stick with the fundamental economic argument that he thinks will win the White House.
"It's another hammer blow to the struggling middle-class families of America," Romney said of the pace of job growth, assailing Obama's record from a Las Vegas trucking business. At the White House, Obama surrounding himself with some of those families, playing up 29 straight months that private employers have added jobs.
"Those are our neighbors and families finding work," Obama said. "But, let's acknowledge, we've still got too many folks out there who are looking for work."
Fittingly, the two men spoke over each other on television, holding events at the same time.
The economy is stuck, long removed from the days of implosion but not growing enough to reduce unemployment or make people feel better. No signs of help are coming from a gridlocked president and Congress, or from the Federal Reserve, or from U.S. allies with their own problems as the world economy suffers.
That means the economy voters have now may be the one they get when it's time to pick a president.
The bright spot: Employers added 163,000 jobs in July, more than double that of June.
Yet the politically important unemployment rate rose to 8.3 percent, a notch above June's 8.2 percent.
Only three such tone-setting jobs reports remain before the election - one in September the day after Obama speaks at the Democratic National Convention, one in October shortly after the two men debate on the economy, and one in November a mere four days before the election.
Whatever the monthly ups and downs, the big picture shows that the largest economy in the world has yet to take off:
The 151,000 jobs added on average each month this year is almost the same monthly average as last year.
No economic recovery since World War II has been weaker than the current rebound from the recession that ended in June 2009.
A status-quo economy means the campaign arguments and strategies are not changing, either.
Original Print Headline: Views of jobs news keep messages static
Romney disputes tax claim
NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared Friday that he has "paid taxes every year - and a lot of taxes" as he rejected an anonymous claim that he hadn't paid taxes for a decade on his vast personal wealth.
Democrats have tried to make Romney's personal wealth and how he's managed it a key issue in the presidential contest. The former Massachusetts governor, who would be among the richest presidents ever elected, is aggressively competing with President Barack Obama for the support of middle-class voters.
Romney has refused to release more than one year of personal tax returns, despite calls from Democrats and some Republicans to do so, saying his critics would distort the information and use it against him. He has promised to release a second year of returns.
Romney's 2010 federal tax return shows he paid 13.9 percent tax on income of $21.6 million. Most of Romney's income came from investment gains, which are taxed at a lower rate than earned income.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid has said that an investor in Romney's former firm, Bain Capital, told him that Romney didn't pay taxes for 10 years. Reid offered no evidence to support the claim, wouldn't identify the investor and even acknowledged that he didn't know if the claim was true.
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks to reporters in North Las Vegas, Nev., on Friday. CHARLES DHARAPAK/AP
President Barack Obama talks about taxes Friday in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House campus in Washington. J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/Associated Press