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. Sandra

    It's nice to hear the truth, even if it hurts.

    March 6, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. Get Well Soon GOP

    GOP! If you would just relax and not clinch up so much it won't hurt so bad. Think of it as if Obama is just trying to take your tempeture.

    March 6, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  3. AndyL

    The stock market and jobs will continue to spiral downward as long as President Hope & Change continues to tell investors and business man that it's not ok to make a profit in new socialist America. Just sit at home on welfare and make the evil rich pay for it. Thank you for rewarding failure Mr. President.

    March 6, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  4. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    At least she has the decency to be honest and direct.

    March 6, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. still hoping

    Just think how much faster we would recover if obama and the democrats would keep their hands out of it?

    The last time a democrat messed with the market, (clinton and the banking via Fannie and Freddie and forcing bad loans on the banks), look what it did to us.

    You would think someone who you all think is so intelligent would learn from history, but I think we are all in a little less awe of a Harvard education now.

    But nice to see someone tell it like it is and not try to blame it on Bush as an excuse. Good for her. At least 1 obama appointee worth something.

    March 6, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. Godluvr

    When the jobs dry up and the land becomes barren: "If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land." There is famine in the land. The salt of the earth (Christians) have lost their effectiveness and their affectiveness. When they turn back to God, pray and seek His face in earnest; the economy will begin to turn around. It started with Bush, and President Obama is saddled with it now. But this is not the time for finger pointing. This is a time for those who know how to pray to pray. Laugh if you will, God is speaking from His high heaven. TGBAG.

    March 6, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  7. Bill

    Please I saw Christina Romerbs on Morning Joe today give me a break. I would be smiling too if I was working and had a job. President Obama has done nothing for the millions of Amercicans who lost thier job. Christina Romerbs was letting everyone know how if you lost your job now the government would help with your COBRA payments. Please that is only good if you lost your job from September 1, 2008 through the present time. In short if you lost your job prior to September 1, 2008 and have been unable to find a job President Obama and Congress will not help you and could care less with COBRA insurance or anything else. My COBRA bill is over $650 a month for Health Insurance. What a joke I am no better off under President Obama than President George W. Bush. I never thought I could say that but it is true.

    President Obama during the 2008 election you ran on change? President Obama I am sorry but millions of Americans like me do not see any change and we need your help.

    Billions of dollars for Wall Street, Banks, and AIG and the regular American people who got caught up in this mess and have worked thier entire lives"GET NOTHING".

    March 6, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. Get Well Soon GOP

    Don't fight the system Obama has set up. There are people who need the relief he is providing. Do you want them to remember the GOP as the party that did not care about them. Here is a plan, if Obama's actions work you can be seen as the party that put politics aside to help the nation. If it does not work you can be seen as the party that will correct all that he has done. Other then that you will just be seen as the party of no. Fix yourself up, we still need you.

    March 6, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  9. spring forward

    the bush administration ruined our economy.

    March 6, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  10. Joe

    It's refreshing to see leaders telling the truth rather than attempting to sugar coat everything for political gain.

    She is absolutely correct in saying it's going to take time for the stimulus, mortgage, and financial stabilization plans to work. Unfortunately, the GOP is attempting to use the poor numbers as 'evidence' the plans are not working. It's more of the same old tired rhetoric. It's sad.

    March 6, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  11. Had It

    If this recession started late 2007, how can so many people blame it on President Obama? Would someone please enlighten me?

    March 6, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  12. lou

    I've seen her "cheery disposition" as she breaks the bad news. Unfortunately it comes off as "I have a job so I can be cheerful, too bad about your situation". She's the wrong face, wrong attitude, at the wrong time. The last thing we need is a cheery face delivering economic death messages to the dying.

    March 6, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  13. Maurice from Ontario

    Right on, Ms. Romer! Thanks for the reminder...and encouragement.

    March 6, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. JeffRob

    "I think there's no way we could or should spin these [numbers]."

    Well, that's refreshing.

    March 6, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  15. tony

    This is why as bad as it is to run a large budget deficit, there is something much worse that is looming as a possibility.... a depression. Maybe, not to the 1929-1933 levels, but falling into a situation like Japan in the 1990s is a real possibility. Avoiding that outcome should be priority number 1.

    March 6, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  16. Matt B

    President Obama has made some quick work of this economy. The stock market is down 20% since he took office. He has printed money like it's a game of monopoly, ensuring serious inflation for the next decade. The government is now responsible for 40% of the GDP. Unemployment is skyrocketing, the global markets are laughing at how ridiculous this administration is and it's only going to get worse when we increase taxes on businesses trying to keep people employed. I guess the liberals got what they wanted, someone to fight for them to be able to stay home and not work. Congrats, fine job.

    March 6, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  17. Les

    Since ObamaChimp was elected by politically correct people of this country, WallStreet start going down and never let up. Since January 20, 2008, Wallstreet have lost 20% of its value, this is Obamachimp BEAR MARKET now.

    Wallstreet is the best indicator if the sitting President is signing good economic policies to boost the economy, only those who can't even balance their checkbook believes Obamachimp is doing well. He's looking at economic indicator coming out of Wallstreet like political polls which he relied upon so greatly.

    This current administration and Democratic lead Congress is showing their INSANITY. We're talking of losing jobs for the past three months, isn't that something? ALL under Obamachimp.

    LIBEALISM IS A MENTAL DISEASE.

    March 6, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  18. Tell me what I want to hear

    That's Gibbs' job.

    March 6, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  19. Les

    correction:

    Since ObamaChimp was elected by politically correct people of this country, WallStreet start going down and never let up. Since January 20, 2009, Wallstreet have lost 20% of its value, this is Obamachimp BEAR MARKET now.

    Wallstreet is the best indicator if the sitting President is signing good economic policies to boost the economy, only those who can't even balance their checkbook believes Obamachimp is doing well. He's looking at economic indicator coming out of Wallstreet like political polls which he relied upon so greatly.

    This current administration and Democratic lead Congress is showing their INSANITY. We're talking of losing jobs for the past three months, isn't that something? ALL under Obamachimp.

    LIBEALISM IS A MENTAL DISEASE.

    March 6, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  20. niko

    I'm pretty too sure i could do her job...Its harsh economic times such as
    these when there is no substitute for family...

    March 6, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  21. TRYING TO BE OBJECTIVE AND FARE

    One would have to know how FREE TRADE, NAFTA, GAT, affects American Workers.

    Ross Pirout told us some years ago. Free Trade is ok but we need a level playing field. We CAN NOT IMPORT MORE THAN WE EXPORT.

    What group of Americans benefit from freetrade, nafta, gat????????????They always say follow the MONEY.

    When jobs are outsourced to countries so wages are lower, no benefit, no tax paid to US, no tariff on imports, who gains?

    Patriotism to me is keeping your factories in the US, paying a living wage, paying fare share of tax.
    WE ALL BENEFIT, EVEN THE WEALTHY IN THIS COUNTRY. THEY WILL STILL MAKE MONEY, ALL AMERICANS WILL PROSPER. WE WILL ALL BE SAFER. WE WILL HAVE LESS CRIME , FEWER ABORTIONS, FEWER PEOPLE ON WELFARE, BETTER HEALTH BECAUSE OUR YOUTH WILL HAVE BETTER FOOD CHOICES.

    IF WE COULD ONLY ELIMINATE THE GREED AND THE LUST FOR POWER AND CONTROL.

    TRUE PEOPLE OF GOD KNOW WHAT I MEAN.

    March 6, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. Gyrate

    Well, let's just raise taxes on the 'rich', that should solve everything....I say Obama should debate Rush, that would be entertaining.

    March 6, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. Virginia

    Ya think????

    March 6, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. Mike

    Highest unemployment in 25 years, the fastest drop in Wall Street in our history. CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN.

    March 6, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  25. Mike

    Highest unemployment in 25 years, the fastest drop in Wall Street in our history. CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN.

    March 6, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
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