July 5th, 2010
09:53 AM ET

Letter to the President #532: 'When is a recovery not a recovery?'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/POLITICS/07/02/obama.economy/smlvid.obama.flag.gi.jpg caption="Foreman: President Obama continues to say a recovery is underway, but more and more it has all the appearance of being a jobless recovery." width=300 height=169]

Reporter's Note: President Obama continues to say a recovery is underway, but more and more it has all the appearance of being a jobless recovery. And that’s not good news, as I note in my latest letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you have been trying to raise spirits with town hall meetings; I know you have been trying to increase optimism about the economy, but these jobs numbers are just making everything you say about the recovery seem like so much wishful thinking.

No matter how we slice it, we’re still pushing close to ten percent unemployment. That means out of every ten Americans who want work, one can’t find it. That’s terrible. And, btw, as you know that is not counting the people who have just given up. And it makes no allowance for the folks who have found work, but in jobs that pay less (sometimes a lot less) than their previous positions, because frankly I’m not hearing a lot of them talking about how much “more” they are making these days.

This is, hands down, the cruise missile heading right for the dead center of your party this fall. Yes, voters are still angry at the Republicans, but if you think just blaming everything on the previous landlords is going to get your team off of the hook, I fear you are sorely mistaken. There is more than enough fury to go around on this, and just as it has been for months now, the overwhelming opinion of voters is that Washington in general just doesn’t get it… not the Dems, not the Repubs, not anyone in power inside the Beltway.

And you know one reason why? Because in all fairness almost none of you run any real risk of suffering in this economy. It’s that simple. Oh sure, some of you may be voted out, but not one of your number will stand in an unemployment line, or fear losing the house, or wonder if he or she will ever have a job again. And for many Americans those are genuine worries.

I know this is difficult, but I think you should go to the office supply store, buy a piece of poster board and a marker, and write a great big screaming “9.5 percent” on it. Then hang it on the front of the White House. Everyday it will serve as a pointed and fearful reminder to you of the reality many voters are facing; a reality that no rah rah meeting or inspired speech can fix. Then try to lower that number. Because in the end, that is the only real solution. Don’t waste another minute trying to change impressions. Change the reality.

Hope your week gets off to a positive start. Do you need me to come by with that poster board? I think we have some in the attic.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Donna

    I know Washington does not get it. They do not live in the real world. They continue to allow wasteful spending, earmarks, and lobbying. They have no real solutions and have developed no real job programs. Our elected officials should be forced to walk in our shoes for a few weeks for a reality check. I have worked in the healthcare field for many years and just getting an interview is hard. Employers know that with so many people out of work they can pay way below grade and get away with it and offer no health benefits. The American Dream is all but dead and Washington will continue to point fingers at each other and do nothing. We, the American workers are way too busy just trying to keep our heads above water, working extra hours, scared to open our mouths for fear of being let go, accepting the unacceptable, losing our homes, vehicles, families falling apart, and our dignity just to put food on the table. I am sick of both parties, the bad decision making, the lack of being represented, and total disconnect in Washington. Is anyone listening?

    July 5, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
  2. BryanR

    I think Tom has said it very well! Especially the part about losing a house or job, the people on Capital Hill have no idea what that means. They have nothing to lose no matter what they vote for or against; even if they are not voted back in next term, they still are not in fear of losing anything of any real worth! They don't actually know why these things are even on the ballot much less what they cost the American people!

    July 5, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  3. Tammy Christine

    Change the reality..

    July 5, 2010 at 11:37 am |
  4. Scott

    Someone in the media finally "gets it".

    July 5, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  5. Rob

    Well said Tom. I wholeheartedly agree. As a Dem, I voted for Obama because I didn't want another Repub in the WH. I like how you succinctly portray the reality facing many Americans in this "jobless recovery" and how you differentiate OUR reality from that of our elected officials. Sure would be nice to have a few million in the bank to fall back on, but for so many of us that is simply not our reality. Thanks again!

    July 5, 2010 at 10:09 am |