After Libya Slaying, Conversation Turns Back to Economy

The campaign turned back to the economy Thursday after the Federal Reserve announced QE3.

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The presidential campaign returned to familiar ground Thursday as both President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney blasted each other's economic policies.

Campaigning in the key swing state of Virginia, Romney said, "Small businesses have been crushed" by Obama's policies over the past three-and-a-half years and now Obama wants to make matters worse by raising taxes on a million small businesses. Romney pledged to reduce taxes and "ease the regulatory burden."

Campaigning in Colorado, another key swing state, Obama said that under his administration the economy has been creating jobs for 30 consecutive months despite his inheriting a near-collapse that, at one point, caused the loss of 800,000 jobs in a single 30-day period. "We saved an American auto industry on the brink of going under," he said. Obama noted that, "There's still a lot of folks out there hurting" but he dismissed the idea of going back to "the same old sales pitch" from the Republicans that he said caused the financial crisis in the first place.

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The shift to the economy came after three days during which the overwhelming focus was on the crisis in the Middle East. But it's the economic issues that both campaigns believe will decide the presidential contest, and that's where they are putting their emphasis with 54 days to go until the Election Day.

Romney also said he would pressure China to end its alleged currency manipulation, which he said "makes their products in this country artificially cheap," which in turn drives American manufacturers out of business and "kills jobs."

Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith said Romney was being hypocritical. "If he were serious about holding China accountable,' she said, "he wouldn't have criticized the president for standing up to China to protect American tire workers, he wouldn't continue to hold investments there, and he wouldn't have proposed a tax plan that could create hundreds of thousands of jobs overseas, including in China."

[Romney Allies Reiterate Candidate's Critiques on Libya Response]

The Federal Reserve's announcement Thursday that it would buy $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities each month triggered more anti-Obama criticism from Romney's campaign.

"The Federal Reserve's announcement of a third round of quantitative easing is further confirmation that President Obama's policies have not worked," said Lanhee Chen, Romney's policy director. "After four years of stagnant growth, falling incomes, rising costs, and persistently high unemployment, the American economy doesn't need more artificial and ineffective measures. We should be creating wealth, not printing dollars. As president, Mitt Romney will enact bold, pro-growth policies that lead to robust job creation, higher take-home pay, and a true economic recovery." 

Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," for usnews. com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and on Facebook and Twitter.