You would think the Democrats would get better at dealing with rotten jobs numbers. They sure have had a lot of practice. But they continue to reinforce the image of cluelessness.

Today we were assured that the unemployment rate is not 8.3 percent but 8.254 percent. No, seriously.

Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, solemnly explained on the White House Web site: “The household survey showed that the unemployment rate ticked up to 8.3% in July (or, more precisely, the rate rose from 8.217% in June to 8.254% in July). Acting BLS Commissioner John Galvin noted in his statement that the unemployment rate was ‘essentially unchanged’ from June to July.” Yikes. He also relied, for the zillionth time, on the old saw that “it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.” Actually, 41 of them have showed unemployment at 8 percent or higher.

Relying on rounding arguments and telling us we should be relieved the job numbers are essentially unchanged will, and already has become, fodder to ridicule the White House.

With an uptick in the unemployment rate House minority Leader Nancy Pelosi( D-Calif.) proclaimed that “today’s jobs report is small step in the right direction.”

Speaking today at a pseudo-campaign event, President Obama chose to plug for a tax hike on upper income taxpayers. He proclaimed, “The people standing behind me shouldn’t have to pay more just so that the wealthiest Americans can pay less.” But of course the Republicans don’t want to raise taxes on anyone; It is Obama who wants to hold the middle class hostage so he can soak the rich.

By contrast, Mitt Romney, in Las Vegas, was fiery in his denunciation of the president’s job record

The White House’s defense of the jobs numbers is the kind of delusional happy talk that drives ordinary people nuts. What would be better? Other than silence, the White House might concede reality. The numbers are bad. It might signify some course correction, like a moratorium on tax hikes and new regulations. It could even stun the political world by embracing the Simpson-Bowles plan.

Jim Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute makes the case from a conservative perspective for Simpson-Bowles:

So basically we would have a simpler system, less vulnerable to crony capitalism, with a top marginal tax rate back to where it was during the Reagan years. And on top of that, the corporate rate under Simpson-Bowles would be 28% vs. 35% today, helping offset the minor-though-regrettable rise in capital gains and dividend rates.

One objection from the right is that this plan would raise taxes. This portion of the S-B plan would raise tax revenues, on a static basis, by $785 billion over a decade due to fewer tax breaks. But given the huge drop in individual and marginal rates — plus the efficiency gains from a less distorted system — I have a hard time believing this would not grow the pie, leaving taxpayers far better off than they would be after a decade of slow growth or Lost Decade.

A major stumbling block for the GOP was Simpson-Bowles’ embrace of Obamacare and the magnitude of the defense cuts. But why not this offer: The Republicans will take Simpson-Bowles in exchange for a straight up or down vote on Obamacare in February 2013. The allocation of discretionary spending cuts will also be decided after the election.

If the Dems don’t go for Simpson-Bowles again, shame on them for holding up a historic deal for the right to play the filibuster card in 2013.

As for Mitt Romney, he can continue to push for a “better deal” for conservatives (e.g. reduce government share of GDP below 20 percent instead of 21 percent). If he wins and the GOP gets the Senate they might get it after all. And in the meantime it acts as a powerful incentive for Dems to make a deal, that is if they think Obama might just lose this thing. At this rate Obama will, whether the jobs rate is 8.3 percent or 8.254 percent, or worse on election day.