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May 25th, 2012
10:16 AM ET

Letters to the President #1222: 'An unemployment pledge'

Reporter's Note: President Obama has been plagued by bad employment numbers. I suppose he’s also been plagued by my relentless letters, but we’ll talk about that another day…

Dear Mr. President,

Your Republican challenger Mitt Romney predicted this week that he could get unemployment down below 6 percent in his first term as President.

I don’t buy it. Oh sure, unemployment may go below that mark if he is elected. Or if you are re-elected. Or if Martians land and we all become extras in a real life District Nine scenario.

What I don’t buy is that a president can promise such a thing or make it happen. You can play a role, you can contribute to movement in that direction, but there are just way too many other factors that are at least as important.

International trade, general legislation, the cost of gas, consumer trends, wars, protests, riots, natural disasters; heavens there are hundreds of things that could easily tilt our employment situation one way or the other and I think presidents (and would be presidents) ought to be careful about what they promise.

Now, I’m not going to say whether I think you have pursued wise or foolish economic policies, but I’ll pretty much bet my house that if you could have made unemployment a much smaller problem you would have done so. Heck, wouldn’t any president?

I understand that such pledges can seem bold and inspiring, and certainly some voters may be sold. But I think people who aspire to the Oval Office ought to stick with general ideas like, “I’ll do all I can to make the job situation better. Now, let me explain my plan…”

Not only is that more realistic, but in long term political terms…it’s also safer.

Regards,
Tom

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