With three months to Election Day, today's tepidly positive July jobs report has prompted Republican attacks on an increased unemployment rate and relief from the Administration that it could have been worse.
But today's figures also bring President Barack Obama ever closer to an important rhetorical milestone: A net increase in jobs since the start of his administration.
Obama has been pummeled by presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney for the largely arbitrary net jobs figure. Democrats contend that the early-2009 losses shouldn't count against Obama, whose policies took time to take effect. Conversely, even Democrats give George W. Bush's TARP policy credit for stabilizing the economy. Regardless, the president only needs job growth of just over 105,000 jobs created in each of the next three months to be able to say — undisputedly — that he created more jobs than were lost since the start of his administration.
Hitting 316,001 jobs would be an important rhetorical victory for Obama — and missing the mark would provide Romney and Republicans with another attack to use against the president in the final days before the election.