The Washington Times - August 3, 2012, 09:59AM

Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney said Friday that the latest jobs report, showing the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.3 percent, is more proof that President Obama’s big government policies have failed to speed up the economic recovery and get people back to work.

Speaking a campaign stop in Las Vegas, the former Massachusetts governor said that his policies would strengthen the economy by creating 12 million jobs and making the nation energy independent by “end of my second term.”

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“Today we got a new number from the unemployment report and it’s another hammer blow to the struggling middle-class families of America because the president has not had policies that put American families back to work — I do,” Mr. Romney said.

“I will put them in place to get America working again,” Mr. Romney said, stressing that the jobless rate has been above 8 percent for 42 months. “This is an extraordinary record of failure.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Friday said the nation added 163,000 new jobs in July — exceeding market expectations, but not enough to prevent the national unemployment rate from ticking up to 8.3 percent.

Without offering any details on how he would get there, Mr. Romney said he plans to make the nation energy independent and balance the federal budget by 2020, while improving education, increasing free-trade agreements and promoting small-business growth.

Mr. Romney has vowed to slash the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, and to reduce individual marginal rates 20 percent across the board. He has also vowed not to cut defense spending or Social Security and Medicare benefits from retirees and those close to retirement — generating some doubt as to how he can accomplish all these goals without either raising taxes, pushing deep cuts to domestic programs that generally benefit middle- to low-income earners or adding to the national deficits.

The Tax Policy Center released report this week, which the Romney camp brushed aside as partisan, said the Republican’s tax plan would shift more of the tax burden onto middle and lower income households, and away from the rich.

With polls showing Mr. Obama leading Mr. Romney by 3 points in a realclearpolitics.com average of polls, the jobs report is sure to provide the former Massachusetts governor with additional ammunition to use against the Democrat in the run up to his nomination at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., later this month.

It dovetails with his message that Mr. Obama’s policies have slowed the nation’s economic recovery, which appears to be resonating with voters.

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal survey, which showed Mr. Obama with a 6-point lead, found that 44 percent of the registered voters surveyed approve of the way the president has handled the economy, while 53 percent disapprove. More people also said that Mr. Romney had good ideas for how to improve the economy compared to Mr. Obama, by a 43-percent to 36-percent margin.