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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image=
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. Jim

    Godluvr: I could not agree more. But not only Christians must turn back to God, this nation must turn back to God. This country was founded on the principle of the Living God. He was at the forefront of this country for a long time. Now, we have pushed him to the back. Only by humbling ourselves and putting Him first will this nation see a return to greatness.

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

    To read so many comments that say this mess started with Bush and the Republicans, you would get the impression that Democrats didn't gleefully buy any homes with subprime mortgages, or take advantage of outlandish Wallstreet investment opportunities, or jump for joy these last 8 years while watching the profits in their investment portfolios go through the roof fueled by the policies they now grouse about.

    But they did and all those who joyfully and greedily participated in the economic opportunities that they are now trashing, regardless of party persuasion, are contributors to the current state of affairs...whether they are mature enough to realize it or not.

    This isn't a Republican mess. This is a gluttonous, greedy American mess.

    March 6, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  3. gerard morei

    To Still Hoping: if you remember my friend, the pick of the lending thru Fannie and Freddie was in 2005 and 2006. Now, remember who was the President then?. Please don't be so ignorant and learn the facts before writing anything.

    March 6, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  4. Marie

    Just think how much faster we would recover if obama and the democrats would keep their hands out of it? WILL NO REPUBLICAN Take Responsibility or Hold themselves accountable? Do what I sayers abound.

    I think that we should implement a W tax, a voluntary tax on people who voted for Bush... . . $10,000 per voter.

    March 6, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  5. Steph

    That is so funny because greed and lack of regulation is what got us into this mess. How can that be the solution? Also, what is it about "job creation" that make you republicans think of people sitting at home accepting welfare checks? Ask anyone who has been laid off, and they will tell you that they want to work and EARN a living wage more than anything else.

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

    How can you people sit there and point fingers at Clinton and Obama and welfare rolls??!!?? You people are insane with hate and anger. You're just BLIND! Deregulation created this problem from all corners of our financial system. Deregulation that is part of the GOP's mantra by the way. You know... free markets. And the only reason you gripe about Fannie and Freddie is cuz its the only thing any Dem's may have had their hands in in this economy. Funny how the GOP skips over EVERYTHING ELSE THEY HAVE DONE TO EF UP OUR BELOVED COUNTRY THROUGH THEIR IDEOLOGIES!!!

    March 6, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  7. Mark

    You mean a stimulus bill to rebuild federal buildings with tax payer money didnt help the job market??

    March 6, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  8. Danny in Chicago

    I hate republicans.....

    March 6, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  9. Peggy - TX

    Andy L. You are getting your missinformation from talk radio, as the President did not say that, did not imply that, his policies do not reflect that, his stated objects are directly contray to that and you clearly are an idiot for repeating such crap. What is your motivation? This is an example of Republicans advertising falsities to get ordinary Americans, like yourself, to vote agaist thier self interest and vote Republican.

    March 6, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  10. Ray Fisher

    There's only one way to truly recover our economy and that is to save and pay cash for everything and thus rebuild the banks, retailers, industry and services. The bottom-up approach is always the last resort after all else is ruined. It is the most painful yet most durable fix since it can be built upon and will grow with time unlike credit which only erodes with the macinations of the creditor!!! No quick fixes for slow people in a slower economy!!!

    March 6, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. Mark

    The obama and Pelosi administration has made a manageable situation a lot worse!! Everytime they speak or propose a marxist bill the stock market nose dives!

    March 6, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. b


    You're right! We should thank Bush for being clueless. CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN after 8 years of no governance. I'm glad I can always count on you to hate...

    March 6, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  13. magella


    Where have you ever heard President Obama tell businesspeople "it's not ok to make a profit" or that everyone should not work and "make the evil rich pay" for social services?

    The job losses are not because of anything that has happened since Obama took office; they are the result of a devastating year in 2008, when George Bush was president. Companies in various sectors of the economy have been posting poor numbers since late 2007. The result is that they can no longer pay their workers.

    As for the stock market, yes, it's down but that is to be expected while investors decide what their confidence level is going forward. It will recover, but it will take a while. In the meantime it would be helpful if people like you with nothing constructive to offer would just shut up.

    March 6, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  14. kitten

    @Godluvr: Let me be the first to encourage you that you are not alone because i have been standing on this very word myself for a very long time now myself and i knew that there were others doning the same so i belive that god will anoint and use President Obama to heal our land because he said he would!! so you know what God says about two or more agreeing upon anything will i know myself and other christians are beliveing with you so let us keep our eyes upon God so that God will keep his eyes upon this President and dont forget that God would have saved Sodom and Gomorrah for ten righteous people so we well just have to wait and learn whatever it is that the lord wants us to learn because we were out of control with all of this greed and we have to admite that that also includes the church and christians

    March 6, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. Cheney

    Looks like Limbaughs sister,lets hope shes smarter than him.

    March 6, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. S Callahan

    Mike that is really unfair as this would have happen no matter who took office. It was inevitble....greed has it's pleasure for a short time but always , in the end, it fails.
    As a people in this great nation we have been pretty vain to think in the 'me' zone and we are now reaping the consequence....I like to be optimistic because we have an Awesome God who has historically , in the past, showed his mercy and grace for a nation that repents..turns from their unjust ways. There is hope if we as a nation do that.

    March 6, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. Peggy - TX

    Mike March 6th, 2009 2:15 pm ET

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


    Credible Analysis are ALL saying that the current problems are resulting from activities in September through December and that the positive response to Obama's stimulus plan will not begin to be felt for another few months. So far, Obama is doing a greater job to dig us out of the mess the previous Administration left for him and us. !

    You really need to educate yourself a little before you continue spread missinformation over the blog-a-shere.

    March 6, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. David from VA

    Obama is totally destroying the economy. Man I can't stand that guy.

    March 6, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. karen-Phoenix

    We are in the process of cleaning out the bad!! NOT bad employees but greedy corporate and lobbiests who have stolen this country for billions of dollars. WE, the American worker will come back stronger and better!! NEW jobs in solar, wind, high efficiency autos, who knows were it might end! AND we, will have national health care and GOOD public schools. The pain is HELL, but we will be stronger on the other side!!!

    March 6, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  20. tony

    To place the blame the Obama Adminstration for these numbers is a sign of economic illiteracy. Conservatives are a lot better at lecturing others about taking responsiblity for their actions than practicing that policy themselves.

    March 6, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  21. debbie

    It's nice we no longer have the Emporer and his new clothes. Truth hurts, but what hurts worse is when it's denied. I got hit in the recession of 2001-2003. The Bush administration focused on three things: blaming Bill Clinton, denying it was that bad, and talking about finding those WMDs. In the meantime people were long-term unemployed, no healthcare, losing homes etc. After 8 years of GOP rule (20 years in the past 28 years for that matter) all these failed policies are just literallyl killing least it's being acknowledged and instead of sitting around pointing fingers we have an administration that is willing to tackle it AND make decisions which are not very popular. This situation is something we ALL contributed to, either through greed, ignorance or apathy. Now we are paying the price. I am glad that we have principled, smart, energetic leadership. We sure need it.

    March 6, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  22. Donna

    How is it she can give this news with such a smile on her face? Can't she at least pretend she understands our pain!

    March 6, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  23. Mike

    A LIBERAL: Wants to give away everything they do not own and do not pay their taxes. Believes the government can spend my money better than I can. I hope obamby stays in Europe for the forseeable future and maybe the stock market will improve.

    March 6, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  24. Debby

    No kidding lady and thats because of the stockmarket fiasco. The stockmarket hasn't taken such a hit with any other Pres. aboard.

    March 6, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  25. P from the IE

    I appreciate the White House being honest which we have not seen in 8 years. The downturn is not Obama's fault. You can thank the Bush SEC for looking the other way. You can thank Bush's buddy Hank Paulson for giving banks money to waste. Where I live the un-employment is approaching 11% and its been that way for some time. This started way before Obama. I lost my job last June of '08 so I appreciate the truth being told.

    March 6, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
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