WASHINGTON WATCH ROUNDTABLE: New Jobs Report, Job Growth Under President Obama And His Faith (VIDEO)

Roland Martin and the Washington Watch roundtable discuss the most recent jobs report, unemployment numbers, job growth during President Obama’s term in office.

This week’s Washington Watch roundtable features Karen Finney, Dr. Chris Metzler, Deborah Simmons and Cornel Belcher.

MR. MARTIN:  We’re back.

Y’all go at it.

MS. SIMMONS:  Yeah, okay.

MS. FINNEY:  [Crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  [Chuckles.]

MS. SIMMONS:  No.  No.

MS. FINNEY:  — [crosstalk] –

MS. SIMMONS:  No, no, no!

MR. MARTIN:  [Laughs.]

MS. FINNEY:  — [crosstalk] – no, no.

MS. SIMMONS:  He – he’s my next-door neighbor –

MS. FINNEY:  Cornell’s point –

MS. SIMMONS:  — so, I’m going to –

MS. FINNEY:  — Cornell’s point –

MS. SIMMONS:  — take this one.

MS. FINNEY:  — that is[?] – [crosstalk] –

MS. SIMMONS:  Here’s the thing –

MR. MARTIN:  Deborah –

MS. SIMMONS:  — Cornell.

MS. FINNEY:  — [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — then Kamborah [sic – phonetic] – D- — Deborah –


MR. MARTIN:  — then Karen.

MS. SIMMONS:  — here’s the —  here’s the thing, Cornell.  Sure, we had a couple a hundred thousand people get jobs, and that’s vitally important; but are these the people who have lost their homes over the past few years and still don’t have – aren’t making enough money to be able to pay their mortgage?  Are these the very people who are – who are lining up, or already in line, and have been in line, in that safety net that Mitt can’t kinda make up his mind is it holey?  Is it not holey?  Is it big enough?  Is it small enough?  Those questions have yet to be answered in those numbers – and more importantly, the jobs came in the – the package of private-sector jobs, which they –

MR. BELCHER:  I would h- —

MS. SIMMONS:  — wait a minute!

MR. BELCHER:  — I would hope –

MS. SIMMONS:  Wait a minute.

MR. BELCHER:  — they do come in [the] private –

MS. SIMMONS:  Which –

MR. BELCHER:  — sector.

MS. SIMMONS:  — which they – which – but that points straight to any economist who says, “Let the private sector” –

MR. BELCHER:  We- — I –

MS. SIMMONS:  — “do its” –


MR. MARTIN:  Actually –

MS. SIMMONS:  — “do its” —

MR. MARTIN:  — actually –

MS. SIMMONS:  — “thing.”

MR. MARTIN:  — actually –


MS. SIMMONS:  Those are the –

MR. MARTIN:  — hold on one second –

MS. SIMMONS:  — points I wanted to make.

MR. MARTIN:  — ’cause I want to go to Karen, ’cause I do believe –

MS. SIMMONS:  Those are the points –

MR. MARTIN:  — in facts.

MS. SIMMONS:  — I wanted to make.

MR. MARTIN:  First of all, we’ve had 16 consecutive months of overall job –

MS. FINNEY:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  — growth – overall.  Cornell’s reference point dealt with, specifically, private-sector job growth.  We’ve seen jose – [sic – phonetic] – those jobs entrench when it comes to the government jobs, but also economists did not expect 243,000.

MS. FINNEY:  That’s exactly –

MR. MARTIN:  They thought –

MS. FINNEY:  — right.

MR. MARTIN:  — it was going to be around about a hundred and seventy, hundred eighty.



MS. FINNEY:  — well – and ec- — economists talking on Friday were actually very encouraged by what they saw in terms of the sectors of job growth, and it’s not just that – the 243,000; it’s 3.7 million jobs over the last 23 months.  That is consistent job growth in the private sector, and what you heard economists saying is this shows that employers are actually starting to have some faith in the economy again and starting to get going again.  That’s what we’ve needed to have happen.  That’s part of what the President’s policies have actually helped put in place.

On the housing point, I want to g- — this is very important.  Deborah, I completely disagree with you.  If I’m a voter in Nevada, I say to myself, “There’s a guy who’s got no plan – lots of great attacks – no plan, no ideas, and I’ve got another guy who is sure trying a lot of different things.  Maybe it didn’t work the first time, but at least the guy’s trying.”  And I’ll –


MS. FINNEY: — tell you what.

MS. SIMMONS:  — sweetie.  It’s –

MS. FINNEY:  Hold on.

MS. SIMMONS:  — [crosstalk] –

MS. FINNEY:  No, don’t “sweetie” me!

MS. SIMMONS:  — worked – it –

MS. FINNEY:  Don’t you dare

MS. SIMMONS:  — hasn’t worked –

MS. FINNEY:  — “sweetie” me!

MS. SIMMONS:  — for three

MS. FINNEY:  [Crosstalk] –

MS. SIMMONS:  — years!

MS. FINNEY:  — no, no, no.

MS. SIMMONS:  It’s not –

MS. FINNEY:  Voters say –

MS. SIMMONS:  — just hasn’t worked –

MS. FINNEY:  — to themselves –

MS. SIMMONS:  — for – for the –

MS. FINNEY:  — “Who’s the person” –

MS. SIMMONS:  — first time –

MS. FINNEY:  — “who’s on my side” –

MS. SIMMONS:  — Karen.  You –

MS. FINNEY:  — “who’s trying to make” –

MS. SIMMONS:  — know that.

MS. FINNEY:  — “it work and who’s” – don’t ever

MS. SIMMONS:  You know –

MS. FINNEY:  — “sweetie” me –

MS. SIMMONS:  — that.

MS. FINNEY:  — by the way.

MS. SIMMONS:  I “sweetie” –

MS. FINNEY:  “Who’s the person” –

MS. SIMMONS:  — everybody.

MS. FINNEY:  — “who’s trying to make it work, and who’s the person who’s basically just attacking?”  That’s the question voters are asking themselves.

MS. SIMMONS:  No – all voters, though, but particularly in Nevada, where you have had people underwater with fo- — foreclosures –

MS. FINNEY:  So, a guy –

MS. SIMMONS:  — before –

MS. FINNEY:  — with no plan is going to win?

MS. SIMMONS:  — before–

MS. FINNEY:  That’s not –

MS. SIMMONS:  — Obama –

MS. FINNEY:  — ’s not –

MS. SIMMONS:  — got in.

MS. FINNEY:  — come on, now!

MR. MARTIN:  Chris.

MS. SIMMONS:  Karen, you know that to be a –

DR. METZLER:  Well –

MS. SIMMONS:  — fact.  I’ve heard you say it!

DR. METZLER:  — I was just going to say –

MS. SIMMONS:  [Chuckles.]

DR. METZLER:  — Cornell did as he does well, which is filibuster the question, ’cause the question was not about jobs; the question is about the voters in Florida and Nevada and the housing crisis.  So, as it relates to the housing crisis –

MR. BELCHER:  [Chuckles.]

DR. METZLER:  — I think the President has to get it together.  “Yeah, I have a job, but do I have a place to live?”

MR. BELCHER:  But here’s –

MS. SIMMONS:  Whee-uuw!

MR. BELCHER:  — [crosstalk] –

DR. METZLER:  [Crosstalk] –

MS. SIMMONS:  Whee-uuw!

MS. FINNEY:  If I have a job –

DR. METZLER:  But that’s –


MS. FINNEY:  — I can at least pay –

DR. METZLER:  — the issue!


MR. MARTIN:  All right.  Corne- —

MS. FINNEY:  — my mortgage.


MR. MARTIN:  — all right.  Cornell –

MR. BELCHER:  [Crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — time for you to answer.

MR. BELCHER:  — you – you are – you’re right.  I am going to talk about jobs, ’cause you know what?  We’re not going to keep moving the goal post.  You know, they say, “Well, the President” – “this” – “his” – “he’s not making jobs.”  “We’re not” – “we’re” – “The unemployment h-” – “The number’s high.”  We’re not going to keep moving the goal post.  He has – he’s creating jobs.  The unemployment numbers drop.  Give him his propers for – for the policies that he’s put in place.  Don’t keep moving the goal post and saying what he hasn’t done.  Unemployment number’s dropping.  We’re creating private-sector jobs.  These are good things!

Now, the problem for Republicans is they have to run against two people.  Well, Mitt Romney has to run against three.  He has to run against Newt Gingrich, has to run against the President, and he has to talk down the- — these numbers.  He has to run against the unemployment numbers right now, that are moving in the right direction.

MR. MARTIN:  And what’s – [crosstalk] —

MS. FINNEY:  And the –

MS. SIMMONS:  [Crosstalk] –


MR. MARTIN:  — what’s interesting is he gave a[n] interview with Laura Ingraham.  You never thought you’d hear her name on this show.


MR. MARTIN:  He gave a[n] interview with her, and he said, “Look, if the economy is [im]proving, I’m not going to make stuff up and say it’s not.”  And so do you believe that with [unemployment] going from 8.5 to 8.3 – we’ll see what happens over the next several months –

MS. FINNEY:  Sure.

MR. MARTIN:  — if this eco- — if we begin to see unemployment dropping, more jobs adding, does that make it tougher for the Republicans to say, “Hey, let’s now switch” –

MS. FINNEY:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — with positive growth – “to us”?  And – and are the American people now in a –

MS. FINNEY:  A- — a- —

MR. MARTIN:  — quandary?

MS. FINNEY:  — and – [crosstalk] –

MS. SIMMONS:  E- — but jobs is only part of the economy, and the running theme for the past – since Obama since first ran for President has not just been jobs, or housing.  It’s always been “It’s the economy.”

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. SIMMONS:  So, you have to take all of those factors in, and we’re not –

MR. MARTIN:  Well, first –

MS. SIMMONS:  — looking at –

MR. MARTIN:  — of all –

MS. SIMMONS:  — that.

MS. FINNEY:  Well, of course.

MR. MARTIN:  — when you talk about – but –

MS. SIMMONS:  I th- — I –

MR. MARTIN:  — we d- — but we talk about the e- — but – but when you talk about jobs, look –

MS. SIMMONS:  — as part

MR. MARTIN:  — peo- —

MS. SIMMONS:  — of the –

MR. MARTIN:  — people – it’s very –

MS. SIMMONS:  — one sector –

MR. MARTIN:  — basic.

MS. SIMMONS:  — in the economy.

MR. MARTIN:  That’s what they look at first.



MS. SIMMONS:  Yeah, I agree.

MR. MARTIN:  “Am I getting jobs?”

MS. FINNEY:  But he- —

MS. SIMMONS:  I agree.

MS. FINNEY:  — but here’s the thing.  Again, Mitt Romney is also saying to people, “Let’s go back to the policies that got us into this mess, that made it so that you lost your house” –

MR. MARTIN:  Gotcha.

MS. FINNEY:  — “and your job and your healthcare.”  “Or, while it might be slower than we would like, should we keep going with this guy, who seems to be able to create jobs, who’s trying to improve conditions”?

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. FINNEY:  “Things seem” – and he got Osama bin Laden, by the way –

MR. MARTIN:  I wa- —

MS. FINNEY:  — among other things.

MR. MARTIN:  — I want to talk –

MS. SIMMONS:  No-o-o-o.

MR. MARTIN:  — I want to talk about his speech earlier this week with[?] – the President, [the] National Prayer Breakfast, where he gave a very passionate speech, if you will, talking about his faith; and it was pretty interesting what he had to say.  Here’s a snippet of it.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA:  — one of the great honors of my life, which was visiting Rev. Graham at his mountaintop retreat in North Carolina.  This man, who had prayed great prayers that inspired a nation, this man who seemed larger than life greeted me and was as kind and as gentle as could be, and we had a wonderful conversation.

Before I left, Rev. Graham started praying for me, as he had prayed for so many presidents before me.  And when he finished praying, I felt the urge to pray for him.  I didn’t really know what to say, but like that verse in Romans, the Holy Spirit interceded when I didn’t know quite what to say, and so I prayed.  And I thought about that moment all the way down the mountain, and I’ve thought about it in the many days since, ’cause I thought about my own spiritual journey, growing up in a household that wasn’t particularly religious, going through my own period of doubt and confusion, finding Christ when I wasn’t even looking for Him so many years ago, possessing so many shortcomings that have been overcome by the simple grace of God.

And the fact that I would ever be on top of a mountain, saying a prayer for Billy Graham – that simple fact humbled me to my core.  I have fallen on my knees with great regularity since that moment, asking God for guidance not just in my personal life and my Christian walk, but in the life of this nation and in the values that hold us together and keep us strong.

I know that He will guide us.  He always has, and He always will.


MR. MARTIN:  So, do those folks who think he’s a Muslim got to say now?


MR. BELCHER:  Really – really – really quickly, f- — f- — you know, and partisanship aside, Reagan, Bill Clinton, this guy – they have an ability to connect and tell stories and connect with people that is hard, hard to beat.

DR. METZLER:  Yeah.  And – and – a- — absolutely.  I mean there is – I – I – I could not see Mitt Romney giving that speech.  I just – it would not –

MS. SIMMONS:  So, ’cause –

DR. METZLER:  — be genuine.  It would not be who he is.  And I absolutely believe that the President definitely has this ability to connect.  So –


DR. METZLER:  — partisanship –

MS. SIMMONS:  — agree.

DR. METZLER:  — aside –

MR. MARTIN:  Final comment –

MS. SIMMONS:  Mitt Ron- — Mitt –

MR. MARTIN:  — Deborah, Karen.

MS. SIMMONS:  — Mitt Romney would give his own speech.  I find – found it interesting, however, that Pres. Obama took the opportunity to talk about praying for Billy Graham, who is a standard bearer – was a standard bearer of the right wing.

MR. MARTIN:  Well, e- — ev- — evuhbody need prayer.

MS. SIMMONS:  I found it –


MR. MARTIN:  Karen.

MS. SIMMONS:  — interesting.


MS. SIMMONS:  [Crosstalk] – interesting.

MS. FINNEY:  Billy Graham, though, has prayed with, you know, almost every president.  The thing that I also loved in that speech was that he grounded h- — “My faith, my beliefs drive why I’m doing what I’m doing” –

MR. MARTIN:  Gotcha.

MS. FINNEY:  — “why I believe we have to care for the poor, for ‘the least among us.’”

MR. BELCHER:  And “my brother’s” –

MR. MARTIN:  I gotcha.

MR. BELCHER:  — “keeper.”  “My brother’s keeper” line he uses all the time.

MR. MARTIN:  Okay, I’m my –

MS. SIMMONS:  Sisters, too?

MR. MARTIN:  — I’m my brother and sister[’s] keeper, and the timekeeper say –


MR. MARTIN:  — we outta time.


MR. MARTIN:  So, Karen, Chris, Deborah, Cornell, thanks a bunch.  Hold tight.