The Washington Times - October 6, 2012, 06:01AM

In his weekly address, President Obama highlighted the millions of new jobs created over the past 2½ years and a Friday report that put the national unemployment rate for September at 7.8 percent — the lowest since he took office — but said the country has “come too far to turn back now” and pressed Congress to act on measures to preserve current tax rates for middle-income families, offer homeowners the chance to refinance their mortgages at lower interest rates, and provide post-9/11 veterans a better shot at finding work once they return from overseas.

“Four years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, we’re seeing signs that, as a nation, we’re moving forward again,” Mr. Obama said. “But too many of our friends and neighbors are still looking for work or struggling to pay the bills — many of them since long before this crisis hit. We owe it to them to keep moving forward. We’ve come too far to turn back now. And we’ve made too much progress to return to the policies that got us into this mess in the first place.”

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Mr. Obama then chided Republicans in Congress for wanting to “delay, defund and dismantle” new financial reforms and consumer protection rules.

“Republicans in Congress need to stop trying to re-fight the battles of the past few years, and finally start doing something to actually help the middle class get ahead,” he said.

He cited three items. The first is one the central planks of his re-election campaign — to let the Bush-era tax rates expire for household income of more than $250,000. The other two are domestic proposals Mr. Obama has posited himself: a plan to allow certain homeowners to refinance their mortgages at lower rates, and another “to create a veterans jobs corps to help our returning heroes find work as cops, firefighters and park rangers in communities across the country.”

“Ask them to get back to work and get these things done,” Mr. Obama said. “If we’re going to keep this economy moving forward, there’s no time for political games — even in a political season. Everyone needs to do their part. If you agree with me, let your representative know where you stand. Tell them that if they want your vote, then they need to stand with you and not in the way of our recovery.”

Meanwhile, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, coming off a strong debate performance Wednesday against the incumbent, used his weekly podcast to hammer home the economic realities the country still faces, the jobs report notwithstanding.

Mr. Romney criticized the president for the amount of debt that has been racked up during his time in the White House and hit him on his purported desire for “trickle-down government” — a phrase he used during the debate and one likely to be employed heavily on the stump in the coming weeks.

Though the new unemployment figure precluded his oft-cited criticism about the number of consecutive months the jobless rate has been over 8 percent, Mr. Romney still made clear his position that the current state of the country’s economy is unacceptable.

“We created fewer jobs in September than in August, and fewer jobs in August than in July, and we’ve lost over 600,000 manufacturing jobs since President Obama took office,” he said. “If not for all the people who have simply dropped out of the labor force, the real unemployment rate would be closer to 11 percent. The results of President Obama’s failed policies are staggering — 23 million Americans are struggling for work, nearly one in six are living in poverty, and 47 million people are dependent on food stamps to feed themselves and their families. What we need is a real recovery — and, unlike the president, that’s exactly what I’m offering.”

Mr. Romney said a second term for Mr. Obama would bring with it more taxes, borrowing and spending while his own economic plan would create 12 million jobs in his first term. He also pledged to repeal and replace Obamacare, cut spending and balance the budget within a decade.

“The choice in this election is clear,” Mr. Romney said. “Under President Obama, we will have a stagnant economy that fosters government dependency and chronically high unemployment. But if you elect me as president, we’ll have pro-growth policies that foster upward mobility, strengthen the middle class and lift people out of poverty. That’s the choice in this election. And that’s why I’m asking for your support on November 6th.”