In Debate About Jobs, Candidates Play by Different Rules

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Obama says often that he saved the country from the brink of disaster with the stimulus (he calls it the Recovery Act), and that it helped create as many as 2 million jobs. The bigger question to many economists is whether those jobs will stick — and also whether they're jobs at the bottom of the ladder or higher paying.

"That's great that you have job creation," said Todd Schoenberger, a managing principle at the BlackBay Group. "However, for sustaining any type of economic growth for the U.S. economy, you really need those high-wage jobs, and that's where we're going to have some trouble."

The conventional equation says that good-paying jobs lead to consumers' spending more on things like housing and major durable goods — more than just food on the table, in other words.

Obama also has his own unemployment number trick — over the past months, it's trickled down to 8.1 percent, but not necessarily because more people are at work. It's the same effect that happened in Romney's Massachusetts — fewer people looking for work.

And the president can't expect everyone to cut him slack on the jobs that were lost during the beginning of his administration, even if they were a result of the financial crisis that exploded in Bush's second term.

"If you are asking for my vote and you want to be in the White House, I'm going to have to hold you to the standard that what happens on your watch is on your watch," Schoenberger said. "All of Wall Street's going to look at that. We're going to be accountable for what takes place; therefore the president of the United States will have to be as well."

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