March 6th, 2009
12:50 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama aide on jobs numbers: 'No way to spin it...terrible'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/06/art.romerred0306.cnn.jpg
caption="Romer chairs the Council of Economic Advisors."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - She is known for her cheery disposition and motherly demeanor, especially beside some of the dour faces that surround her, but Christina Romer, the president's chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisors, is delivering the cold, hard facts on the nation's new jobless numbers. Making her way from camera to camera, Romer is the face of the administration's bad news.

"I think there's no way we could or should spin these. They are terrible. We know that we've lost now more than 650,000 jobs each of the last three months, and that's a tragedy for the American families that are losing those jobs and for the whole economy," Romer told CNN.

On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the February unemployment figures, which showed an increase from 7.6 to 8.1 percent - numbers Romer said were not surprising. "I think the important thing is they were much of what we expected. But they are still very bad," she said. "The unemployment rate clearly went up a little bit more than the market had been expecting. The job loss is just what we were expecting."

Romer, who stands just over five feet tall, speaks with pride about being part of a group of several dozen academics who've joined the Obama administration's economic team. Born on Christmas, Romer is sporting a bright red coat and her trademark smile today. Her reassuring demeanor has some observers likening her to a school teacher or librarian.

She is a powerhouse player with a PhD from MIT and numerous books and papers under her belt regarding the Great Depression. But Romer delivers the economic blows with a kind of optimism not displayed by the rest of the presidents economic team.

Romer told CNN Friday she is confident the administration is on the right path. "The message I'd like to give to the American people is the president has been so careful to say to the American people we know it will get worse before it gets better. Precisely because we knew that plans we put in place take time to work. But they are in place. The fiscal stabilization plan, the financial stabilization plan, and the housing plan. Those are our three big doses of medicine for the economy but they're likely to take unfortunately a few months to work."

Romer does not believe any one plan is more important than the other in getting accomplished quickly. "I'm actually a great believer that they all need to work at once. That I think they reinforce each other. That it's not, you need to get the financial markets working before the fiscal package does something. I think there's influence the other way. As we get people creating jobs they're more likely to pay their loans and so the banks are healthier. I think we just got to go through on each one of these simultaneously," Romer said.

On a day when Americans are learning this is the worst unemployment rate in a quarter century, Romer is consistently realistic but rosy. "The President's message is we will recover. I think that's what the American people need to hear. Cause sometimes in the midst of it it's hard to keep your eye on that, on that hope that is absolutely coming down the line."


Filed under: Christina Romer
soundoff (148 Responses)
  1. Dawn

    With the declining unemployment rate every month, it does seem like doom and gloom. I remember twenty-five years ago, it was rough, living from hand to mouth, but yes we will recover. it will take time and trust me, go on Recovery.gov and go to your state and see where our tax dollars are going. Right now only a few states are up and running, but keep checking.

    I wish us all the best of luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 6, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  2. Jon in CA

    YEAH!!! Change we can believe in!! Awesome Job, Obama!!

    Stock Market now down to 6500 and falling. What is Obama doing? Packing his bags for the European trip with Michelle.

    March 6, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. Ernie in LA

    Obummer, you need to do something quick. Where is that magic wand that you had whenever you were campaigning? You had all the answers. Forget about that White House dog and the swing set and do your job. A lot of people are waiting.

    March 6, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I love the honesty. Don't gas my head up and tell me it's not that bad, when we all know it is. Stick an IV and some dope into this economy and we should start moving again.

    March 6, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  5. William

    Where are all the jobs the administration has promised to create?

    March 6, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  6. sickofitall

    I just read a headline on msnbc.com that said neither party says it"s their economy....well I guess we can blame it on the terrorists then.

    March 6, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. RealityKing

    Expected!!??

    March 6, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. demwit

    I'm full of hope, got no job, but plenty of hope..., thanks Obama.

    March 6, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  9. sickofitall

    Maybe if the economy further errodes, those grossly overpaid athletes and actors/actresses will be out of work because nobody can afford to go a game or movie anymore.

    March 6, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  10. demwit

    Wow! A PhD from MIT AND numerous books... How progressive of her!!

    March 6, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  11. Lawrence

    As a business owner I can tell you that if Obama continues on his spending spree and does not consider tax reductions on the corporate side and business owner side, this recession will continue to deepen, and there will be more job losses. The President and his big government spending approach is not the way to go and most economists disagree with the inexperienced new President.

    Notwithstanding White House reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that they all support a big increase in the burden of government, many leading economists do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1990's. More government spending did not solve Japan's "lost decade" in the 1990's. As such, it is a triumph of Mr Obama's hope over his lack of economic experience to believe that more government spending will help the US today. To improve the economy, policymakers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, saving, investment, and production. Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth.

    If the President was to see a sudden increase in banking activity, lending, and a stock market rally to stem the losses in America's retirement savings, he could do just two things:

    1. Suspend the mark to market accounting rules for banks, insurance companies, and REITS for one year.

    2. Eliminate the capital gains tax on stocks and bonds for any purchases made between now and the end of 2009.

    Do this, and you will see a remarkable and sudden turnaround.

    March 6, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  12. bill

    and mccain was the politcal choice, the one who said "the economy is strong". of course he said he didn't understand economics. HELLO. what a mess the last 8 years has gotten us into.

    March 6, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  13. Michael

    She seems to be good with numbers. Maybe Obama should consult her before speaking. Yesterday he said every 30 seconds someone goes bankrupt because of health care costs. This is a totaly made up number used as a fear tatic so no one will stop and question what he is doing. A total lie. No one in his administration can support the number or identify it's source. Change no one can believe in.

    March 6, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. Shooky

    I thought John Goodman paid his taxes, what is he doing on Obama's payroll?

    March 6, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  15. bill

    and mccain was the politcal choice, the one who said "the economy is strong". of course he said he didn't understand economics. HELLO. what a mess the last 8 years has gotten us into.

    March 6, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. John

    "Hey, it's good to be - at least in my best comfort zone, man," Biden said today. "The best place for me to be my whole career is surrounded by organized labor. And I know how to say 'union.'

    "You know, you go home with them that brung you to the dance," Biden said. "Well, you all brought me to the dance a long time ago. And it's time we start dancing, man. It's time we start dancing."

    Applause.

    Bammy Boy.....

    March 6, 2009 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. Big Ed

    Honesty – what a refreshing change!

    March 6, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  18. We really love Sarah

    Hey let all these companies fail like so many people are saying Then, we would really see what unemployment is about.

    We love to support stupid spending like war and tax cuts on big corps. But, spend one dollar on the average citizen and we have a problem!

    March 6, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  19. survivor

    And so it shall be. I feel that this President inherited a big mess that has hidden under the surface for years. I'm sure that Bush is glad his term is through. We must all remeber that the problems we face today will not be o er anytime soon – we aren't playing a dadgum video game here!

    March 6, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  20. Kevin in Ohio

    If they even hint that this is the Bush administration's fault, they are spinning it. This is 100% Obama's and Pelosi's and Reed's mess.

    March 6, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  21. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    Why is she speaking up now? It was obvious since the transitional period where he was seen hiring the best and experienced of the crop. Not to mention the Clintonians of the 90's. Experience people know what it takes to syncronize. You know like...syncronize swimming. Morons! Take to the streets and demand we want our country back now!!!

    March 6, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  22. carlo

    We knew this would take time. We gave Bush 8 years, the least we could do is give Obama 4.

    March 6, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  23. cmc

    Thank you GWB and the so called "conservatives", must feel good to know you helped to get us where we are today. Any one for more deregulation, no bid contracts, spending like drunken sailors primarily for the have and the have mores.

    March 6, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  24. 416 Weeks versus 6 1/2 weeks

    How long do you think it will take President Obama to overcome the bush destruction of the economy?

    March 6, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. Walters-

    We were having slow death since the beginning of the subprime lending boom. Now people have to be patient for the economy to recover in the mean time we have to endure the painful unemployment, the decline of the stock marke etc.. . The diagnosis came eight years late. The prescription is in and wait if it works hopefully it would. It is better to acknowledge the problem than ignore to bounce by itself.

    March 6, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
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