Sunday, October 7, 2012

Gov. Romney joins the "unemployment truthers"

Former Mass. Governor, Mitt Romney, has cast his lot with the tin-foil-hat Republican crowd that sees a conspiracy in the positive jobs figures that were released on Friday.

Speaking at a rally in Florida, Gov. Romney said, "If we calculated, by the way, our unemployment rate in a way that was consistent with the way it was calculated when he came into office, it would be a different number."

Gov. Romney's allegation that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has altered the definition of unemployment is ludicrous. As a key economic adviser to President George W. Bush said, "The numbers are put together by trained professionals and in a process that keeps politicians from interfering...Any sort of suggestion to the contrary is wrong."

The allegation is also insulting, as it questions the integrity of the career staff at the BLS.

The allegation's absurdity notwithstanding, it is the sort of wild, baseless smear that Gov. Romney has made repeatedly. Gov. Romney's detachment from the truth seems grow greater by the day.

Besides being wrong, Gov. Romney's stance is hypocritical. He had no criticisms of the statistic when he cited the unemployment rate over and over in stump speeches and in Wednesday's debate ("We've had 43 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent")."Straight months" does seem to imply a certain consistency to the statistic. Now that he can't use the 8-percent line, the statistic is called into question--not the underlying economic message.

As Greg Sargent has written, unemployment trutherism ultimately hurts the Romney campaign. The campaign's argument is built around an underperforming economy--any good economic news is bad news for the Romney candidacy. By harping on the figures, Gov. Romney and the truthers simply keep Friday's strong economic report in the news cycle and show the panic that has set in.