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October 30th, 2009
08:43 AM ET

Dear President Obama #284: The phantom jobs

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.

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Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

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?

Regards,

Tom

Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Lampe

    Great Letter: I am confused by all of this. How can there be this many jobs created, when the unemployment rate, either continues to rise, or is staying the same? You would think if this many jobs had been created, you would see a DROP in the unemployment rate, wouldn't you?

    October 30, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  2. Joanne P

    Does it not make sense, that perhaps there will be no increase in jobs, and ....persons should be able to retire at age 62 with full benefits in order to open up the job market for younger workers?

    October 30, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  3. meenas17

    This is a very realistic account of the status of the state.Put yourself in the place, before giving any commitment.Think what would happen to you, if you were in the specific position. Stastics give out the data. The numbers do not make up the true functionary.

    October 30, 2009 at 9:36 am |
  4. Michael

    My thoughts also and I am sure many others, at least Mr. Obama take the "saved" out. Give us something that has teeth that we can and will confirm.

    October 30, 2009 at 9:22 am |