Washington Prowler

Obama Jobs

Making Census workers permanent creatures of the Obama recovery. Plus: CEOs tell Obama all the wrong things.

By 6.14.10

The Obama White House, stung by criticism of the recent May employment report, which showed virtually no job growth beyond the 411,000 temporary census workers, is attempting to find ways to put as many of the 411,000 in permanent government jobs.

According to White House sources, the Labor Department is spearheading efforts to identify government jobs created or enabled by federal stimulus programs, as well as unfilled bureaucrat jobs, where the temporary workers might be placed.

"There are policies in place that would allow us to put those people into federal or possibly stimulus-related jobs fairly quickly," says one White House source. "They are already in the pipeline given the employment forms they filled out for the census work."

Federal hiring rules quietly eased and adjusted by the Obama Administration over the past year will further enable the administration to place those temporary workers, according to the White House source. For example, the Obama Administration has cut back the number of forms job seekers must fill out, ended the practice of a skills and knowledge essay, allowed the hiring process to take place with only the use of a résumé and writing samples, and, perhaps most important, eased hiring rules based on the "most qualified" requirement, so that less experienced prospective employees might be hired over better qualified or more experienced competitors.

Another byproduct of the census hiring? "It's essentially a new job created if these volunteers move back to the unemployment rolls [and then back to a fulltime job in the federal government]," says a Senate Democrat leadership staffer.

There were peels of laughter coming out of the offices of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable when President Obama claimed that speaking to the CEO of British Petroleum would have been unhelpful because "when you talk to a guy like the BP CEO, he's going to say all the right things to me."

"Apparently the President hasn't been listening to all those CEOs he's been meeting with over the past 15 months," says a senior executive with the U.S. Chamber. "Unless all those ladies and gentlemen have been lying, those private White House lunches and dinners and coffees with the President have been fairly frank. Mr. Obama may just not like what he's hearing, but it's laughable for him to say that his experience is that executives only tell him what they think he wants to hear."

Obama has invited a number of CEOs to the White House for meetings, sometimes in groups as small as two to four and in larger groups, as well. The stated purpose of the meetings has been to discuss Obama administration efforts on employment, the economy, and legislative efforts like health care. Often times, the White House reaches out to the CEOs independent of the two large corporate associations -- BRT, but particularly the U.S. Chamber, where relations between it and the White House have been less than warm -- but after the fact, a number of CEOS or their Washington representatives will pass along the content of the discussions.

"Our impression is that our member CEOS have been respectful, but honest and often blunt when speaking with the President," says the Chamber source. "These are highly accomplished individuals and I think some have gone into these meetings viewing them as 'teachable moments' for an administration that appears to neither like nor trust the business community."

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