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February 3rd, 2012
05:01 PM ET

Letters to the President #1110: 'Better jobs numbers'

Reporter's Note: The latest unemployment numbers came out considerably better than expected. And since I still have my job, that’s what I’m writing about in my daily letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations on the new unemployment numbers! It must be a relief for your team to receive some positive news on that front, especially since so many of the experts expected the opposite.

Judging from the reaction I’ve seen, all of your folks must have been cautioned to be..uh…well, cautious. You and I both know that the trend can turn against you just as quickly, so that seems a smart play. Let the numbers speak for themselves.

Of course, no matter what you are doing, plenty of Democrats and Republicans are trying to spin the employment news anyway; Dems saying it is proof of how the economy is getting better fast, Republicans saying maybe it is improving but not nearly fast enough. They are each right to an extent, but I wish both sides would take a page from your book on this one.

I wish they would just say, “The unemployment rate is what it is. It is still higher than any of us want it to be, but it is nice to see it trending in the right direction. That is cold comfort to the millions of Americans who still can’t find jobs, but still…it’s good economic news and we could really use some.”

That would be refreshing. I get tired of people in DC talking about “spin” as if it is somehow a benign necessity, instead of what it really is: a form of deception. Not usually lying as such, but sort of in the category of exaggeration or omission. A sort of verbal sleight of hand.

We’ve grown so used to it here in DC, that many folks don’t even consider anymore whether it is right or wrong. For my money, it would be nice if they did. I’d love to think that when news like this came out, people in both parties would first say, “What does this mean to the American people?” and only then ask what it might mean to their party.

Anyway, nice news for you on a Friday. Call if you get a moment.

Regards,
Tom

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