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March 11th, 2009
10:37 AM ET

Dear President Obama #51: Dispatch – under fire on the road to recovery

Reporter's Note: President Obama has enough problems without getting millions of letters from people offering advice. On the other hand, he asked for help.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

I report to you, sir, from the front lines of the battle for economic recovery. To be specific, from a road just north of Washington, D.C.; where on this very day, I spent time with people who did not have jobs, but now do as a result of the stimulus package. No kidding.

You may have noticed in my letters, a touch of skepticism from time to time about almost any program launched by the government. It’s not that I think all politicians are greedy, or small-minded, or do not have the interests of the people at heart. Truth be told, most of the politicians I’ve met are like most people. Some are good. Some are bad. And some spend far too much time ogling the interns and plotting to take your job one day.

But put a bunch of people together in a committee room, give them a bucket of money to spend that is not theirs, and I must say the results are often disappointing. Especially if it was your money to begin with.

Now, let’s get back to that roadside in Maryland. I went to that “first in the country” stimulus-funded road repair project you all were boasting about recently, to see if it really is all that. This is what I saw: The road most certainly needed repair; the private company that got the contract to do the work is pretty pleased about it, considering that they’ve laid off about 350 people in recent years, and would like to get them back; and the two guys I met who have already been called back are delighted.

One was a young fellow with a couple of children, if I heard him correctly. The other was a somewhat older man with grown children, but some medical issues in his family that he really needs the money for. That these two guys are back on the job is undeniably good news for their families. The fact that the company has more work is certainly good news for the business owners. The community will presumably enjoy the new road, although I assume they, like everyone else, will do a lot of cursing about the construction delays in the meantime.

Does all this mean the stimulus will work, or that it is a good deal for taxpayers overall? I don’t know, and frankly I don’t think anyone else really knows either, despite some strong opinions on all sides. Until we’ve traveled that road for a while to see where it is actually heading, the best we can do is predict, and hope, and worry, and wait.

But from the side of a busy road in suburbia today, I can tell you this much: Two jobs are back on-line. Only three or four million more to go!

Call if you feel inclined, and unless I’m reclined, I’ll answer.

Regards,

Tom

For more of the Foreman Letters, go here.

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    Glad to know that at least 2 jobs were created. I hope a lot more come from this or that was an expensive 2 jobs. What I am concerned about is how many permanent jobs will be created? These jobs on the infrastructure last as long as the project does to complete the repair or build new infrastructure – what happens after that? The people's need of a job doesn't end with the project. So how will these be handled? I hope we aren't trying to put a band-aid on a torn artery and are hoping it will fix the problem and endure.

    March 11, 2009 at 9:06 pm |
  2. Philoan Tran - Houston

    I am glad to hear about some positive news on the job front – temporary jobs are certainly better than no jobs at all. Those two men and their families are certainly grateful.

    March 11, 2009 at 2:32 pm |
  3. Savannah

    I don't think anyone person is to blame for the economic downfall. It was a combustion of bad choices decided by politicians and goverment officals in high places.Unfortunality more is to come if not presently corrected. Only time wil tell who was right and who was wrong.

    March 11, 2009 at 12:52 pm |
  4. Julie San Diego, CA

    Thanks Tom for some good news today. A tiny snowball can start an avalanche. All we need is positive thinking and right action.

    Rachel, stay positive, your turn will come. Many people with advanced degrees are in the same boat you are. As soon as this ball gets rolling, things will look up for your situation.

    Bush sleeps at night pretty easily. Kanye West got it only partly right when he said that Bush didn't care about black people. Bush doesn't care about anybody but himself. That's how he sleeps at night.

    March 11, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  5. Dennis Helbig

    Creation of jobs will never come to fruit among the would be manufacturers. It has already been determine that there will be only one manufacturer of all automobiles. Orwellian societies cannot afford choice to enter into the scheme as it breeds independent thought. George Orwell was the principal reason that Lindberg didn't succeed at that time. I have experienced first hand treatment in the hopes of building a particular machine in which I cannot even secure parts from existing manufacturers. Are they not in existence to sell product?

    March 11, 2009 at 12:23 pm |
  6. Cindy

    @ Andi...no one is saying that temporary jobs are bad. But down the line those jobs will be over and then these companies and people will be back at square one with no money or jobs then what? If the economy doesn't get better by the time this road is done and the company gets no more jobs then these people will be laid off again. Does that solve anything? They may be able to pay their bills now but in a month or two when this road is done they won't be working.

    I'd rather have something that fixes the whole problem not just covers it with a band aid hoping the economy will get better before the job they are doing gets done and they end up on unemployment again or worse with no income coming in at all.

    Cindy..Ga.

    March 11, 2009 at 12:00 pm |
  7. Rachel

    Lucky people. I am still waiting to get mine. Not educated worked in manufacturing for long time and now what am I going to do? This is getting hard out here.

    Can somebody please tell me how Bush sleep at night?

    Rachel
    Atlanta GA

    March 11, 2009 at 11:04 am |
  8. Andi

    While the jobs may be 'temporary', would posters rather no jobs at all? The idea behind the Stimulus is to stimulate – that is, get some jobs going so people can pay bills and perhaps buy things like, oh, groceries and medicine. This, in turn, will hopefully grow and grow until there are permanent jobs for these people, and the economy gets going, again. The author reported the men were 'delighted' to be back at work. Neither of the men interviewed were upset with the President because their jobs might be only temporary.

    Temporary work or no work? What do you think?

    March 11, 2009 at 10:59 am |
  9. meenas17

    Well two men got the jobs back, by the efforts of the government and the stimulus package has enabled it. Pretty good! Any assurance that all laid offs will be back to work. .Hope is the only factor that sustains us.Let us keep on hoping. No problem

    March 11, 2009 at 10:33 am |
  10. Cindy

    I say great that these men got to go back to work. But the problem with this and the other jobs the stimulus will create is that the jobs won't last for ever. What is going to happen in this instance when the road is done? Will this company still be able to keep all the people that it hired back? Probably not! Especially if they don't get more work...which they didn't have to begin with.

    It seems to me that stuff like this is just temporary. While it helps in the present tense it does nothing for the future. How is this company going to function after hiring all of these people back and still not get any jobs to do after the road is done? They won't..they'll let these people go again. They'll have no choice!

    Cindy..Ga.

    March 11, 2009 at 9:53 am |
  11. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    They always say you have to learn to crawl before you walk-–first–one job was created--and then a second--let's hope Tom that job creation becomes epidemic--

    March 11, 2009 at 9:49 am |