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Who creates jobs? How economists see the Obama-Romney debate.

The debate about job creation is becoming one of the central themes of the presidential campaign. The answers aren't simple, many economists say – especially in the current climate of employment malaise.

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President Obama greets supporter at a campaign event at Rollins College, Thursday, Aug. 2, in Orlando, Fla. The Obama-Romney debate about job creation is becoming one of the central themes of the presidential campaign.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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It takes a village to raise a child, the saying goes. And, you might add, it takes a whole economy to create jobs.

Yes, Mitt Romney, you’re right: America's job creators include entrepreneurs and other people with high and rising incomes, aka "the rich."

And yes, Barack Obama, you’re right: Job creation doesn't happen just because of a few wealthy risk-takers with bright ideas. It also requires a surrounding climate that includes laws, infrastructure like roads and schools, and consumers who are able to buy products.

The debate about job creation is becoming one of the central themes of this year's election campaign. President Obama says the Bush years proved that tax cuts for the rich don't generate a vibrant economy and that a healthy middle class is the key to job growth.

His Republican rival for the White House, former Governor Romney of Massachusetts, argues that Obama's plan to raise taxes on the rich amounts to putting a burden on job creators.

Romney and his conservative allies also argue that Obama has shown little understanding of how to create a good business climate. They have even pounced on one recent Obama statement – "you didn't build that" – as a sign the president doesn't appreciate what business people do.

So, who's right? How do jobs get created, and by whom?

The answer isn't a simple one, many economists say – especially in the current climate of employment malaise.

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