August 8th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President #566: Not taking applications

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's note: The bad economic news kept mounting for President Obama. And yet, in my daily letter to Pennsylvania Avenue I say don’t push it away…embrace it!

Dear Mr. President,

So Christina Romer is leaving your economic team? Bummer. I guess.

Now, that’s not a dig at her. I’m sure she has been a valuable advisor and knows a lot about money, and investments, and interest rates, and bulls and bears, and people who wear five-thousand dollar suits, and Gordon Gecko, and all that stuff that makes my head hurt. On the other hand, the economy is still looking pretty bad so it’s not exactly like you’ve lost a chip from the Rosetta Stone of economics, is it?

Presumably you will now be looking for a replacement, but I want to make a suggestion: Do without.

Make your team do what so many of us are doing all across the nation right now. In one business after another, Americans have seen co-workers laid off and the work load ramped up on everyone who remains. I can’t tell you the number of people I have met who say they are effectively doing the work that used to be done by two, three, or four other people. So why not make your team do the same?

If that means Axelrod and Rahm have to come in earlier and leave later, so be it. Now, I know what you’re going to say: We’re already working as hard as we can over here. We’re laboring every waking hour to address the myriad problems facing our country. There is just no more time in the day for these folks to take on more work.

And that’s the whole point. We’re all saying that, and we’re not getting a break. A lot of people who work for a lot less glory, less money, and with much, much, much less influence have effectively been told by their bosses, “Hey, if you don’t want the job, I’ll find someone who does.”

So don’t just feel America’s economic pain; live it. You don’t have to lay anyone off, but tell your staff that you’re not going to replace anyone who resigns until the unemployment rate drops below nine percent because you want to spare taxpayers the expense, AND you still expect them to get all the work done, make steady progress on your agenda, and keep their desks tidy.

If that sounds unreasonable, well that’s the whole point. Our economic problems have made life pretty unreasonable for a lot of hard-working Americans, and having a daily, difficult, personal reminder of that could serve your whole staff well. After all, government is one of the few areas in which job opportunities are growing, and that seems a little odd when everyone else is suffering.

Call if you can.


soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. J.V.Hodgson

    Hi Tom,
    A lot of sympathy for what you say here, and no doubt cost reductions can be made, although Obama has already with some exclusions for now made cut backs essential already.
    What I think in the same vein is more important are
    1) Eliminate tax breaks for the top 2% and corporates and do it so that it affects 2010/2011 budget/ deficit.
    2) Speed up the departure from Iraq/afghanistan. My guess is that all in over the next 10 years is say $60 Bn this year and then $250 bn every full year after that, at least many would say much more.
    According to what I hear those cut the annual deficit roughly in half and assuming an eventual uptick in the economy and the rest as 9.5% unemployed of Americans go back to work and the global economy grows, national debt aint an issue.
    Whats wrong with that? Nothing other than a party of NO playing political games and pure very right wing conservative ideology, to keep the economy and deficit looking bad for the mid terms, and also the next presidential. They will vote for nothing even if it is provable to reduce the national debt McConnel on state of the Union re letting tax breaks lapse. ( Did everyone think this thru it means the big bad bonuses get taxed harder... great. and Boo hoo to Republicanism in times of need, problem is the trickle down goes who need th trickle right now and is more direct and gives nothing directly to the rich.. tough!
    Basically I am an independent and what I hear from Republicans at present is an insult to my limited intelligence, ( no for unemployment extension, no to samll busineess tax and loan help) and totally repugnant behavior in the House and Senate. ( You lie being the pits)
    They cant even say yes to small business legisaltion that they would have voted yes for in a flash and unanimously if in power. Pure, pure ideology and politics and shame on them.
    Do I think a lot of others ( especially independents) feel the same way, you betchya!!

    August 9, 2010 at 12:36 am |
  2. C

    Mr. Foreman,
    preach it to the choir sir! My parents came from Vietnam for this thing called the American Dream, freedom, working hard and seeing some good results. Now, I am not sure what they came for at this point.

    However, I am still a hopeful spirit and glad that we can still make our voices heard. I just hope the President keeps his ears open.


    August 8, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
  3. ambria

    Yes he should do that.Oh and keep working on that alternative fuel thing that is suppose to get everyone new jobs.

    xoxoxo Bia

    August 8, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  4. Mona

    You never seem to surprise me. President Barack Obama didnt dig this big ass hole. Bush dug it and we knew it wouldnt be easy leap over it. Obama is trying to keep us from falling in. If you fall in blame it on George Bush. Pre. Obama has done more for this country in 1 year than George Bush (Bust) did in 8 year. You wasn't complainting about the economy than. Give Our President a chance to clean up Bush's bs. We knew it would take longer than 4 years. So shut up. I am without as well. Ur shirt Cost what ?

    August 8, 2010 at 11:30 am |
  5. Nicole

    Funny thing is, before reaching the end of this letter, I correctly assumed that it was written by a man. Women are less likely to complain about the additional workload that our employers are dispersing. We're used to it. Effectively multitasking has never been our argument. Running our households, raising children, and adhering to marital responsibilities, all while remaining strong and willed under the stress and unreasonable realities at work.

    Though I sincerely understand your point, there are a lot of unemployed Americans who will gladly deal with the extra stress and BS if that means being able to place a hot meal in front their children at least once a day, and not be forced to choose between paying rent or health care. so be it.

    That being said, the government is responsible for the ENTIRE Country not just a single household. Whereby, a full and functional staff is absolutely needed.

    But I guess it depends on one's perception. For me, I'm extremely grateful that I have a Job to even complain about. And since recent reports indicate that there are more Men being laid off than women, may I suggest you find a silver lining in your situation.

    We are ALL going through it, and with the government already being ineffectual in most cases, I can't imagine what the result would be if Obama actually took action on your advice.

    August 8, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  6. mikenyc

    What an absurd and frankly bitter letter. What you sir must come to learn is that our job economy has changed and is now accurately reflecting the world; 3 people doing the same job only provides evidence of a bloated workforce and why we had difficulty in global competition. Crying about it and going to the extreme of hyperbole will not build the new skills required to compete.

    August 8, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  7. Lillian V McClanahan

    What has become of this world unlike any other.We as americans whine & wimper about all the things that you don't like about Pres Obama all of a sudden you grps coming out the wood works.When bush was in ofc the american people weren't given a heads up about anything Now people are tearing the pres down.Ive said it once I'll say it again it was God who placed in their and only god that will take him away.Wake up people he's not going anywhere

    August 8, 2010 at 9:48 am |

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