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May 4th, 2012
07:16 PM ET

Letters to the President #1201: 'The latest bad jobs news'

Reporter's Note: I write to President Obama as surely as the sun rises. In fact, I like to think of my letters as little rays of sunshine in his…oh never mind.

Dear Mr. President,

Can’t bet my house on it, but I’m pretty sure you had some choice words to mumble under your breath when the jobs report came out this morning. I’m an encouraging and optimistic guy, you know that, but frankly I think you can spin these figures like old jeans in a Kenmore and they’ll still come out dripping with bad news.

I know that the unemployment rate ticked down a tiny bit. But you and I both know that’s only because so many people just gave up looking, sort of twisting that percentage around to look like a positive sign. Mind you, I don’t know that I understand why people stop looking. I understand getting discouraged, but I think the odds are slim of someone just walking up to your door and saying, “Say, you don’t look busy. Want a job?”

No, when the economy can’t crank out enough jobs to keep us from sliding backward economically, there is just no way to act like that’s good news. I suppose you can say that it could be worse, but you’ve already tried that one out and I’m not sure it flew all that well.

Now, to be fair, I am firmly in the camp of those who look at our modern economy and cast a skeptical eye at any president who believes he has an inordinate influence. No offense, I just think that much bigger forces are at play than anything you can control. IN other words, presidents get too much credit and too much blame when it comes to the economy, and you’d probably all be better off if you just admitted it. When things go well, just say, “Like the rest of you, I am pleased and surprised to have a few extra dollars in my pocket. Hooray!” And when things go bad, you can say, “Look, I didn’t claim it was my genius as work when things were going great, don’t come around blaming me now.”

Still, until that day comes, I guess you’d better brace yourself to be whacked pretty hard by the Republicans over these latest numbers. Bad way to start a weekend. On the other hand, you are still employed so I don’t imagine you can complain much.

Give me a call if you have a moment. I should be around all weekend. Maybe we can get in a run. Feeling largely recovered from the latest marathon. Go figure.

Regards,
Tom

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