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. Rick CT

    As I write this Obama has indeed reached a milestone. The decline in the Dow since he took office has exactly matched the decline in the Dow during Bush's 8 years. Gotta give credit for effeciancy and streamling government. It only took 45 days!!

    March 6, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  2. Brian Crooks

    Honesty, for once, is very refreshing. Remember this line? "It doesn't matter if we officially call this a recession or not. The numbers don't say we're in a recession, but this is definitely an economic slowdown. What matters is the American people are hurting." B.S. Give me a break. I appreciate the honesty instead of the fingers-in-the-ears approach of the past several years.

    March 6, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  3. Watchful Cowboy

    Amen! Godluvr – you said it right, we need to return to the values that started this country and pray – pray – pray!

    March 6, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  4. bettyp

    Obama is not helping Main Street – Everytime he opens his mouth stocks go down and we lose more jobs – until employers have confidence they will keep letting people go and who is going to have confidence under Obama's policies. The only thing this CHANGE Administration knows is to mention the words transparency and bipartisan – but that's all they – The are not doing either of the things they keep mentioning.
    What is wrong with Americans – your approval of Obama is taking this country down. When you go so far left we lose our freedom – The reason the markets go down is they are afraid of government takeover. Venezuelan president Chavez appropriated an American Company (Cargill) this week. Have you heard anything on mainstream media? Castro went left – he destroyed Cuba. Wake Up and defend your country

    March 6, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  5. RinFL

    It's God, It's Obama, It's the Democrats........................Really?
    Couldn't be that unfettered and unregulated corporate greed overcame prudence, risk adversion, and a Fudiciary responsablility to their clients?

    March 6, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  6. sick n tired of CNN moderators

    I love reading all of these mindless posts from know nothing Democrats and racist Republicans! Keep it up children! Soon all of you " lemmings " will have followed each other off the cliff then all of us intelligent Independents can step in and actually accomplish things that make sense!

    March 6, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  7. Jessica

    My question. I guess either from being very young or just green about politics all together. Why are they giving all this money to these large groups (Wall Street, Detriot) other large companies? Again maybe just from me being so uneducated on this until now. Why don't they give the money to the ones that really need it....US! If they would give us some of the money then maybe we could pay our bills, go shopping (which helps the business stay in business), people to get the money to buy a new car to pay their morgage. The little 300 dollars that Bush gave us did nothing. Give the people of the United States thousands of dollars and let us spend it the way we want to. Stop giving it to the companies that are still laying off hard working people every day... The top people of these major places are not hurting it is the little people that are. These companies are getting all this money to do what...lose it again a few years from now...IT IS ONLY GOING TO GET WORSE......

    March 6, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  8. Norom

    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.

    And the last eight years had nothing to do with that, right?

    March 6, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. disgusted

    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.

    Do you think there might be a correlation?

    March 6, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  10. Richard A. Spomer, Alexandria, VA

    Where is the Chang we can believe in Mr. President, and where are the jobs; haven't seen a drop in the unemployment figures for months.

    If there was trust in his fiscal stabilization plan, the financial stabilization plan, and the housing plan we would have started seeing some results, don't you think.

    This economy is belonging now officially to President Obama.

    March 6, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  11. Joyce

    You're an idiot! This was going to happen regardless if Obama was president or not. The past administration tried to fix the problem by bailing out wall street. Unfortunately, they were given blank checks with no regulations. And we all saw how that went...golden parachutes, big bonuses, and lavish retreats for the executives while the common men were laid off. GREED, GREED, GREED!!! Now Obama is trying to bailout the common men. Fortunately, the checks will be heavily regulated and citizens can track the money on the web. He is giving us (common men) back our country. It's only been 45 days! This huge pile of horse feces that the last administration left CANNOT be cleaned up overnight. It takes time. Remember, it took Bill Clinton 6 years to clean up the 12yrs worth of mess from Bush 1 and Reagan...and he had to deal with a Republican House and Congress! Obama will get things done in a timely fashion. Not only he has the House and Congress on his side, and also has America behind him.

    March 6, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    to the comment is not obamas fault that unemployment is where it is or the stock market these numbers were projected well before he was Even elected. And its not any one presidents fault it started with regan and was perpetuated by every pres since. We can't say yet if obamas made it worse anything that's happening now is a result of what's been going on previous to obama he just landed in it. Now if his plan fails, which can't be told until at least next year. So until he has failed if he does you can't place this on him and his not even 2 month presidency

    March 6, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  13. JIM...TX

    @ Andy L....don't you mean COMMUNIST America????? Why don't you whiners tell it like you really think??? it is! Thats if you even KNOW what the difference is..........

    March 6, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  14. brian

    still hoping and others....

    Blaming Obama for the economy. If I remember correctly you guys were still blaming Clinton 4 years into Bushies term. Pathetic.

    Oh yeah, keep believing that Fannie/Freddie crap Rushbo and Hannity keep feeding you.

    March 6, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  15. thanks, but no thanks

    To AndyL

    how is it that welfare for banks and rich is alright, yet for everyone else is socialism? How about we let the AIG and other financial institution fail? Are we rewarding failure in those cases, also? Let me know if you have something new...

    March 6, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  16. Lush Limprick & Osama bin Laden have the same vision for America - FAILURE!

    Sorry, President Obama, this woman is way too "chirpy cheerful".

    Kinda makes you wonder if she knows the gravity of what she is saying. Sorta like some wretched wench we had to endure back in November, what's her name

    March 6, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  17. Jaybird

    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.

    Sure Mike....and it just sprang from total nothingness 6 weeks ago, right? Seems I recall Bill Clinton was responsible for 9/11, despite the fact that W had been in the WH for 8 months. Nope, no double standard here.....

    March 6, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  18. Jaybird

    Some doofus said:
    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.

    Yup.....for the GOP, it's like the last 8 years never existed. Clinton did bad things, now BO is doing bad things, and in between, the party of personal responsibility?....took none

    March 6, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. elana

    It's like having a great uncle who lives across the sea, who suddenly shows up in your life and you didn't even know he existed. Now we know the recession began in 2007, and of course, thanks to the Bush Administration having their priorities far above the needs of the American people, we are now in the worst recession in years, and have a chance of moving lower into a depression! And our "Uncle Bush" pretended he didn't exist either, leading us to believe we were not in a recession!

    March 6, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  20. Bud Burgoon-Clark

    @ MIKE:

    The economy tanked BEFORE President Obama took office, the result of eight years of greedy robber-baron tactics on the part of REPUBLICANS.

    It's NOT "Obama's Recession," and it's not Obama's FAULT. You'd BETTER pray that he CAN fix the mess the BuschReich left him.

    March 6, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  21. Straight Talk

    what? Even so bad that 25 jobs makes it "all better"?!?

    go figure....

    March 6, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  22. liz

    still hoping-
    Actually historically, Republicans have created debt and Democrats have fixed it. YOU need to read a history book instead of listening to Rush Limbaugh.

    March 6, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  23. Howard

    Conservatives get mad when you blame Bush, the guy at the wheel for the last 8 years, but quick to blame a guy just in over a month and a half. I'm so sorry your faith has been shattered in Obama. Surely he should have fixed this on going mess that had been building for years in a matter of days. Yep, he was secretly behind it all starting when he was 10 years old. The US is longer a superpower, we lost everything. Everything was fine until he got in office. We were living in Utopia.

    Crazy Conservatives!!!!!

    March 6, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  24. honeychild

    Amen.... Godluvr

    March 6, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  25. Matthew, Houston, TX

    Amazing how fast the nay saying right wing idiots get on these blogs with their lies and revisionist history. All I have to do is read a few words of their posts and I know exactly what they are going to say. In fact, just listen to Faux Noise (oops, Fox News) or Rush Limbaugh and you don't even have to read them.

    Let's see, who to believe, right wing idiots who get on these blogs, Rush Limbaugh who dropped out of high school, Faux Noise or a woman with a PhD from MIT and several books and scholarly papers. Hmm, tough decision . . . NOT!

    March 6, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
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