By Amie Parnes - 08/03/12 04:55 PM EDT
President Obama acknowledged on Friday that the government still has "more work to do" to help "reclaim the kind of financial security Americans have felt slipping away" during the down economy.
Speaking at the White House on the heels of the July jobs report, Obama heralded the new jobs numbers, which he said were part of 4.5 million new jobs created over the last 29 months and 1.1 million new jobs this year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday the economy added 139,000 jobs in July, more than expected and also more than what the economy added in May and June combined.
But the stronger figures, which could bolster Obama's bid for reelection, came with a tick up in the unemployment rate to 8.3 percent. No president has been reelected with a jobless rate that high in November since Franklin Roosevelt.
Obama on Friday said he knew growing the economy was "going to take some time."
"We haven't had to come back from an economic crisis this deep or this painful since the 1930s," he said.
Presidential contender Mitt Romney, speaking at a campaign event earlier in the day, blasted the president over the employment report.
"It's another hammer blow to the struggling middle-class families of America because the president has not kept policies that would put Americans back to work," Romney told a crowd of supporters in Las Vegas.
The presumptive GOP nominee noted that America was now in its longest period in history of unemployment above 8 percent, with the rate increasing from 8.2 to 8.3 percent in July.
"These numbers are not just statistics, they're real people, really suffering, having hard times," Romney said.
The president used Friday's 10-minute speech, standing in front of middle-class workers, to renew his call for tax cuts for the middle class. He called a Republican plan to extend tax cuts for everyone, including millionaires, "upside-down economics."
Obama reiterated, as he has in recent speeches on the campaign trail, that the "last thing we should be doing" is asking middle-class families to pay more in taxes.
"Rebuilding a strong economy begins with rebuilding the middle class," he said. "The people standing behind me shouldn't have to pay more just so that the wealthiest Americans can pay less. That's not top-down economics, that's upside-down economics.
"I think we've got our priorities skewed if the notion is to give tax breaks to folks who don't need them," Obama said.
Obama said he was "pleasantly surprised" that the Senate recently passed a bill to extend current tax rates for the middle class, but he said he was "so disappointed" by House Republicans, accusing them of voting "to hold these middle-class tax cuts hostage."
He urged Congress to send him a "clean bill" on the issue and said he would sign it "right away," something that could take some time considering Congress is in recess.