Jobs on the stump

Just after the starting gun has sounded for the final dash to the White House, new unemployment figures provide plenty of ammunition for both candidates to use on the campaign stump. They are not pleasant numbers to contemplate.

The national unemployment rate rose to 6.1 percent in August, up from 5.7 percent in July and 4.7 percent a year ago. It’s the highest unemployment rate in five years.

Additionally, there was a net loss of 84,000 jobs in August, bringing the total to 605,000 lost jobs so far this year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Both candidates were quick to attack their opponents with the news:

Sen. Barack Obama said, “John McCain’s answer is more of the same” — tax cuts for big corporations and oil companies and nothing for middle-class families.

Sen. McCain countered,“When our economy is hurting, the last thing we should do is raise taxes, as Barack Obama plans to do.”

It’s the classic liberal-versus-conservative dispute. Will more taxes and higher federal spending stimulate the economy best? Or are lower taxes and fewer government obstacles to private investment the answer?

This newspaper has long held that raising federal taxes in the middle of an economic downturn is not a good idea.

In any event, with Iraq ever more peaceful and energy prices dropping once again, it appears likely that issues about jobs and the economy will take center stage during the final months of the presidential campaign.

Both candidates must provide far more information than they have to date to convince voters that they each have solid plans to alleviate the economic woes.


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