Reporter's Note: The White House continues to talk about all the jobs being created by the stimulus spending, but now some of the numbers are looking a little squishy. That’s an economics term. Here is my daily ( and also somewhat squishy) letter to President Obama.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Dear Mr. President,
Here’s how it goes: Friends don’t let friends count jobs. I think your team needs to just quit talking about how many jobs have been “saved” or “created” under the stimulus plan. I’m not giving you a hard time, but no matter how straight up you say it, such statements always sound like political doublespeak. I mean, unless we have a really clear, distinct paper trail, how can anyone really prove that a job was “saved”?
For example, if I am running a state government office, and I give everyone a raise with my stimulus money, I might argue that some of them will stay as a result. But were those jobs actually saved? What if I shift money from my payroll budget to buy much needed equipment because I know stimulus money will cover the shortfall? Again, did I “save” jobs?
I spent part of the afternoon reading an Associated Press report in which they say they found instances of jobs being counted more than once, and jobs that were “created” but only lasted a month or two. I had the impression (and I suspect a lot of other voters did too) you were creating lasting jobs. Or at least more lasting than a few weeks. Imagine how you’d feel if a month after Inauguration you were told, “OK, you’ve had enough of the presidency. Pack your bags.”
Your team has said that they’ll correct any discrepancies found in the math. Good for them. But pretty much all anyone really cares about is the overall unemployment rate which keeps climbing like a cat on the curtains. Sure, maybe it would be worse without the steps you’ve taken, but every time you make that point…I don’t know, it sounds more like an excuse. How many jobs have I saved this year? I guess about 300. Because every day that I kept this one, I suppose I could say I saved it. See? Sounds kind of bogus, doesn’t it? You have said repeatedly that a recovery is going to take time. Voters have said in polls, over and over, that they believe you. So my advice is to put away the abacus and trust them, just as you want them to trust you. When unemployment really gets better we’ll all know it, and that will be time enough for people to figure out who deserves the credit.
I tried calling you this afternoon, but the line was busy. Well, it was busy if I had the number right. We’re you talking to Pelosi again?
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with