The turnover among Defense secretaries helped pad out the administration's job numbers, President Obama joked Monday during an appearance on "The Colbert Report."
As the president bragged that the economy "had been on a pretty good run" and added more than 10 million jobs, host Stephen ColbertStephen Tyrone ColbertThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Jobless claims drop to 50+ year low Brian Williams to leave NBC News after 28 years Katie Couric: CNN shouldn't have let Chris Cuomo 'yuk it up' with brother Andrew during pandemic MORE cut in to say that the numbers were inflated because Obama had hired so many Pentagon chiefs.
"That's boosted our numbers a little bit," Obama jokingly conceded.
The president has come under criticism for his leadership style after the forced resignation of Secretary Chuck Hagel, who reportedly struggled to break into the president's insular inner circle. Former Defense Secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta both wrote memoirs critical of the president's military decisions — and their interactions with White House staff — after leaving the administration.
Last week, Obama nominated longtime Pentagon official Ash Carter to the post.
In the interview, the president also said that although the economy is improving, there had not been enough by way of wage increases.
"People first of all got scared in 2007 and 2008. Even when they got a job, they were concerned about what's out there in the future," Obama said. "A lot of young people came of age, graduated, as the job situation was really tough.
"Overall, what we have not seen is income growth and wage growth," he continued. "Corporate profits are a record high, you got the stock market at a record high, but that has not translated into ordinary [people] getting enough of the share of growing productivity."
Colbert joked that the new jobs that were being created would all be taken by illegal immigrants shielded under the president's recently announced executive action, and quipped Obama's imperial name was "Baracus Maximus I."
Obama defended his approach, saying his executive action was "lawfully" done and that other presidents had acted similarly.
He also conceded that November's midterm elections did not go as he "would have liked."
"But as president, the only office where you're elected by people all across the country, you still got a lot of responsibilities, and my intention is over the next two years to make sure that — whenever possible working with Congress — we get everything we can do done to help working families get ahead," Obama said.
In a more lighthearted bit, Obama hijacked Colbert's recurring segment "The Word," but relabeled the segment "The Decree" to make it more "presidential." He used the segment to brag about enrollment in ObamaCare, and poke fun at Colbert's conservative caricature.
The host had been "taking a lot of shots at my job, so I'm taking a shot at yours," Obama joked upon seizing control of the show.
Obama has appeared on Colbert's show before to promote initiatives to help the troops, but Monday's appearance will be the last before the show ends on Dec. 18. Colbert is departing to take over "The Late Show" hosting duties from David Letterman.