February 14th, 2009
12:30 AM ET

Dear President Obama #26: Trust me

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/11/art.obama.gi.jpg]Reporter’s Note: Before taking office, President Obama asked America for help.  I'm not sure if my letters fit the bill, but hopefully they give him something nice to read.

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I don't know where the week went. Seems like I was running so fast to get everything done, the weekend just slipped up on me like Nancy Pelosi at a photo op. Ha! Just kidding.

So your big stimulus bill came steaming down the tracks after all of that wrangling. You must be pleased. Or maybe you are nervous. I guess I'd be both; pleased that I got the deal done, nervous to see if it is going to work.

Speaking of which, I have a question: Have you read this thing? Maybe that sounds silly, and I'm not trying to imply that you would be derelict if you did not, (it's eleven-hundred pages for crying out loud; you could knock off The Iliad as quickly) I'm just wondering. It seems to me that if any president read all of the legislation that comes boiling out of the Hill each year, he'd be doing an awful lot of reading. How do you decide which ones to really read, which ones to skim, and which ones to skip?

Reading everything that came across my desk as a president, I suspect, would simply drown me. Reading only summaries and highlights, however, would leave me uneasy about the devils in the details. I know you have picked a staff that you have faith in, but frankly every place I've ever worked has had its share of dim bulbs and slackers. The thing is, this stimulus bill could mean the difference between whether people find work or go jobless; whether kids go to college or to the unemployment line; whether families can keep their homes or face the crushing defeat of bankruptcy.

Fully trusting such critical matters to the others, believing they will read and comprehend details with the same insight as you would, I think must be terribly difficult. I've been teaching my 16 year old to drive and frankly trusting her at a McDonald's drive-thru puts my heart in my throat. But in the end, I suppose that is what trust is all about. If we knew things would turn out well, we would not have trust, only certainty.

I guess you can tell I'm a bit tired and pensive. The Capitol is glowing outside my office window as I write this. I'm going to go home and pick up a good book. One with a happy ending.

Enjoy the weekend. Call when you have a moment.


For more of the Foreman Letters, click here.

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Joanne Pacicca, Solvay, NY

    It is beginning to shape up as a larger issue than we were initially presented....the bailout...first we had deregulation: bankers and brokers broke all the rules, used unscrupulous methods to scam money. Citizens made bad purchasing decisions regarding variable mortgages...there were ponzie (sp?) schemes and China drove up price of all natural and manufactured products. We lost half our retirement savings and health insurance premiums are too high for employers and consumers...and yet, there is more. We cannot repair this damage without radical change. Those who were not victims of one aspect of the above, were indeed victims of another aspect.

    We are viewing the billions given to banks squandered, and yet , the Federal Government does not demand forfeiture?

    Is this the loophole that the cunning have used to bilk us once again? How do you fix this, Mr. President?

    February 16, 2009 at 9:49 am |
  2. Lisa

    Tom, I think it is safe to assume that the president had this bill divided amongst his administration to decipher the ins and outs. It would take 20 people to read 55 pages each. If done this way, it would not take such a long time. There's no way the president read all 1100 pages, that would be cruel to ask that of him and no other president of the past. You know, that's how they wrote the bill, in sections. So it's not as hard as you think if everyone did their part.

    February 15, 2009 at 9:11 pm |
  3. valerie

    I'm confused, if they did not read the bill how do they know it is a bunch of pork. Stop whinning and get on board. You guys had eight years to make a positive difference and you botched it up. I would love for you guys who are crying to tell me what you would put in the stimulus bill for it to work. Give concrete ways out of this mess you put us in or be quiet.

    February 15, 2009 at 8:44 pm |
  4. mary Frost

    Dear Mr. President, You said that there were not any earmarks in the stimulus package , just because they are not identified as Harry Reid's metro train to Las Vegas from Disneyland, or Nancy Pelosi's earmark in her district on cleaning up the wetlands to save a rat does not mean that there are not perks in the stimulus, it just means that all of the pork and earmarks are disguised, hoping that we will not be smart enough to figure this out. Of course this is just two of the MANY earmarks but I've made my point.

    February 15, 2009 at 7:20 pm |
  5. mary Frost

    Dear Mr. President, If you want people to trust you, you need to be trustworthy. It does not foster trust if you do not stick to your promises. I still have not seen one piece of legislation you signed posted on the internet 5 days before your signing. I still have not seen any examples of your letting "the light of day" shine on your administration and I know that you promised the people would have 48 hrs. to read the stimulus package before it was signed but you did not.-just 3 examples to get my point across.

    February 15, 2009 at 7:11 pm |
  6. mary Frost

    I heard that the senate lowered the CEO's pay even lower than the president had wanted, and that he was concerned that his might cause "brain drain" at these companies; surely he must be kidding us or think we are idiots, you could pick a person off the street and they'd do a better job of running the companies that the so called brains that is running them now.

    February 15, 2009 at 7:04 pm |
  7. Joanne, Solvay, NY

    Perhaps you could write the President regarding the Energy Commission, designed and established through Carter's administration which has an over-abundance of funds available. The intention was to reduce our dependency on foreign oil. Obviously, nothing has been done...but the money keeps pouring in...at least people in that department have Federal jobs.

    February 15, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  8. Will Dittmar

    During the last 5 years, more and more company's have shiped american's jobs oversea's, Why don't we go and bring them back? We have all thease ex factory workers that would love to have those job's back Give the company's a tax break, if that is what it would take. I heard during the campain that they would stop giving tax breaks for those company's that shipped those Jobs out Will Dittmar

    February 15, 2009 at 3:39 pm |
  9. Clem Lynne

    Tom, you are either being disingenuous or you are doing the Republican bidding. When Sen. Boehner held up that stack of 1100 pages, he was doing that for effect. House negotiations were done in painstaking step by painstaking step; back and forth; and give and take. If, after a week and half of wrangler in both Houses with zero Republican support in the House and only three in the Senate, it only proves one thing to me. The sole Republican goal in all this rigmarole is obstruction, obstruction, and obstruction, their behaviour like a child who refuses to eat veggies at the table with arms folded. Boehner's behaviour is not only predictable, it is expected. What appals me is the media! It did the bidding for George Bush and its beahviour has not changed a bit.

    February 15, 2009 at 2:47 pm |
  10. tom nelson



    February 15, 2009 at 7:13 am |
  11. Mary

    A Prayer for Our Commander-in-Chief
    Dear God, "We give thanks for the United States and its government. We hold up in prayer before you the men and women who are in positions of authority. We pray and intercede for the President"
    (Barack Obama), " the Representatives, the Senators, we pray that the Spirit of the Lord rests upon them. "We believe that skillful and Godly Wisdom has entered into the heart of our President and knowledge is pleasant to him. Discretion watches over him, understanding keeps him and delivers him from the way of evil and from evil men". " God, we ask that You compass the President about with men and women who make their hearts and ears attentive to Godly counsel and do that which is right in Your sight". President Obama, you have my complete support and that I belive, of the American People who wants this Country to Suceed. Mr. President, when you hear the Noise and the Chatter of the Tom Foreman of the world, and the like, and people who would rather spew Negative comments instead of presenting a Positive Idea. Tune it All OUT. You have been left a Massive Mess to Fix and this American knows it. Continue the Good Works that you are doing for the American People. P.S. When the Republicans Unharden their Hearts, they will be willing to be Bipartisan and Work with you For the People of America, Not Against us. Just know
    Mr. President, that GOD can work Miracles.

    February 15, 2009 at 3:29 am |
  12. J.V.Hodgson

    Dear Tom,
    You have to be joking in asking the question did he read it all?Chances are of course not. He might have ( how long would it take you individually to read 1,100 pages. That's why presidents have a staff (s)for goodness sake. QED
    Did he get a briefing summary from his Legal staff at the whitehouse and his chief of staff and the various committees house and senate, of what was in or out, and what further things he may want to push in future based on his election promises and agenda, of course! Therefore what of course had been stymied by Republican opposition and the compomises he was making to get the package thru House and senate reconciled bill yes of course.
    You clearly have never been a CEO of anything!
    You have to trust your staff and advisors, and on the economy you and everyone agrees he has a lot of good advisors he can trust except Gregg Judd thank goodness.

    February 15, 2009 at 3:06 am |
  13. Annie Kate

    I don't know about reading the whole 1100 pages – but I wonder who wrote the 1100 pages? That's a lot of writing, which is supposedly harder to do than reading..... I just hope the thing works.

    February 15, 2009 at 2:32 am |
  14. Mark The Carpenter

    I can't imagine this 1,100 page bill would be catagorized as " Easy reading".
    I hope President Obama broke the paperwork down into 50 page chapters and had 10 advisors read each 50. That comes to 220 educated readers for this bill alone.
    I'm curious if he has the staff needed to properly evaluate this bill , thoroughly, and so quickly ? I guess we'll find out soon enough.

    February 15, 2009 at 2:17 am |
  15. charles wilson

    The whole 1100 pages are a big guess on the economy. Our congress men and women are just as dumb as we citizens. This package is mostly to buy Dem. votes for the future. We will soon have a one party country,and you know what tis means. a country will survive.

    February 14, 2009 at 10:54 pm |
  16. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Tom,
    I hope someone with an ounce of smarts, read this huge mass of paperwork. Nothing is certain in life, but this amount of money is nothing to take for granted. I hope for the best. If it doesn't work we'll all sink. Every last one of us, for generations to come.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    February 14, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  17. Steven Roush

    I agree. I have read some of the bill. I am particularly tickled with the addition to the stimulus bill, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. Which is for givernment entities within Georgia. The grant is for about 3 Billion dollars.
    My God!
    How does that create jobs for the people?

    February 14, 2009 at 7:35 pm |
  18. JQQ -Brea California

    Can you ask the President to show us signatures of politicians who did read all of the 1,100 pages?

    February 14, 2009 at 7:16 pm |
  19. Chalk

    This letter is one more thing for him to read.

    February 14, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  20. Larry

    Tom, I didn't know the president takes the weekends off:)

    February 14, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  21. daniel tinsley

    I truly think President obama should raise import taxes on production co. overseas. This will make companies come back to United States to do business because it will cost to much to get their products to their #1 consumer the u.s. NOW this will create jobs. dont forget free trade is what have us in this mess in the first place something obama discussed in his campaign against hillary clinton. all jobs moved overseas which has prevented no jobs in the united states.

    February 14, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  22. Richard Hagan

    I support you Mr President and feel hope and encouragement when you speak as our leader. First off I would respectfully suggest that if you want to enhance bipartisan support for our recovery, why not be open for debating and possibly eliminating any parts of the stimulus bill that turn out to be PORK and have no believable justification for being part of the recovery bill.

    February 14, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  23. Bruce Hoff

    Confident belief in the trustworthiness of your hand selected staff, but not by blind eye or blind faith. I doubt President Obama does his "Check and Double Check" by radio. This isn't the 30's.
    We need to relax and let the man work! Exercise vigilant trust!

    February 14, 2009 at 12:39 pm |
  24. Richard Saggau

    I've been working on my taxes. Recieving and sending out 1099's. I was wondering how the people that paid Timothy Geithner and Tom Daschle millions of dollars didn't seem to have to send out a 1099?

    February 14, 2009 at 12:36 pm |
  25. nadine

    Why does everyone keep talking about how big this bill is. Would you really want this bill to be 100 pages instead of over 1000. Very important matters are included and this means taking the time to justify what they are and why they are needed as they are added to this bill. President is a Constitutional Lawer and had been a Professor so i'm going to say he read it or at least skimmed the majority of it. Did this many people ask if anyone read the Patriot Act before it was signed into law. I saw an video clip of congress persons being asked about direct lines from the Patriot Act that they never even knew were in there until Bush started wire tapping Americans. This was included but they didn't bother to read the thing and never knew it was in there. President Obama seems to read everything before he signs it, as he seems to look at every angle of a question before he answers it.

    February 14, 2009 at 12:35 pm |
  26. Marcus

    instead of fighting with President Obama why dont the republican party support the president, let him fail, and come up with a stimulus of their own?Like borrow 300 billion dollars from their friends BIG OIL..

    February 14, 2009 at 12:18 pm |
  27. David Druckerman

    I would be very interested in his response as well. Also I would love to know where online I can read this bill for myself.

    February 14, 2009 at 11:53 am |
  28. Pablo Caballero

    I am furious that my senators could not have enough time to read the bill before voting on it. And spending thousands of dollars to fly your winning vote, doesn't help either, makes you look like you are going to get your way doesn't matter what.

    I though the years of my way or the high way were over.

    What about the promise of letting the people, us, the one that elected you as president, be able to read the bills and comment on them, hey, not even my elected officers can read them.

    Is this how you are going to change things? Just doing it your way. That is exactly what we use to have for the last eight years.

    Please Mr. President, you are our hope, be a people's president, not just do what all the others have done, even if you lose one, but you do it the right way, in front of our eyes, you still will be a winner.

    Pablo Caballero
    Miami, Florida

    February 14, 2009 at 10:12 am |
  29. Audrey

    Hurray!!! for president Obama. He knows what he is doing. A wonderful man indeed.

    February 14, 2009 at 10:02 am |
  30. Mark S Fleisher

    weeks of argument over stimulus v. spending were self-constructed ideological positions which did no more than demonstrate how little, how uncaring Senators know about hunger, joblessness, homelessness, and powerlessness. Senators are for the most part the educated elite of America with personal fortunes. Even McCain, the war prisoners of 40+ years ago, can no longer claim to be a man of the people married to a millionaire and occupant of 9 mansions. Republicans sound like children spoiled by their nannies because she wouldn't give them a chocolate bar but instead offered the best ice cream. Let one Republican substitute his life for one lived by an unemployed carpenter or construction workers whose wife and three kids live on food stamps in a 1,200 sq foot wood-framed home in rural West Virginia and see how quickly that Republican changes his mind and his vote about the possibility of hope for himself and his family. Obama's bill cherishes hope, and hope is nothing millionaire politicians understand.

    February 14, 2009 at 9:45 am |
  31. kit maddox

    Now to the point ,why is congress letting our Big Gas company drive up the cost to us the plain people. In the past two weeks the cost has gone up 35 cents , while the cost of crud has gone down below 40 dollars a barrel???
    Please help all of us

    February 14, 2009 at 9:07 am |
  32. 6ftRabbit

    This monstrosity, I guarantee, is stuffed full of surprises and disastrous unintended consequences, many of which will not be realized for years. Those who are applauding now, will be crying soon.

    February 14, 2009 at 9:03 am |
  33. KIm

    Excuse me,eleven hundred pages ? What's the total at the end and ya know Hillary Clinton is leaving for China !

    February 14, 2009 at 8:38 am |
  34. KIm

    Do you think Obama is reading all these great letters ? Makes ya laugh ! Heard they crossed out parts of the 11 thousand pages and did the o'l pencil in on a few areas. Did we get the money and how much for Public Education ? Hurry,before they close the schools and sell them off to developers under NCLB in reauthorization another year ? Let's hope Obama reads Tom's letters ! Pencil in another million for Public Education and have a great day !

    February 14, 2009 at 8:32 am |
  35. Mary

    Yes there has to be trust, we as a nation just put a big bet down on the world's economic future. Head Republicans are throwing fits.. they do not believe in change. I was wondering if the relief efforts to extend unemployment and health care to those hit the hardest was a separate measure if the Republicans would have still just said no.

    I have much enjoyed your letters to the President, it makes me realize yes we really having a dialogue with our new commander in chief. He has engaged us on many levels. His detractors will continue but
    MOST of us are cheering for the new guy.

    Yes we voted to not make the same mistakes, there was only one way out of this mess . it is bold but it is why we voted for such CHANGE!

    February 14, 2009 at 8:29 am |