Former GE CEO Jack Welch started a trend when he asserted shortly after the unemployment rate dropped to 7.8 per cent this morning that President Barack Obama manipulated the numbers.
There’s now full-blown conservative scepticism.
Welch’s original comment:
Welch found agreement even with Republican Congressman Allen West, who said in a Facebook post that “somehow by manipulation of data” the unemployment rate dropped below 8 per cent.
Other, non-elected conservatives also promoted the theory. Generation Opportunity President Paul Conway — the former Chief of Staff for the US Department of labour — told Business Insider on Friday that people should question the numbers because of the timing.
“To have a drop of 8.1 per cent to 7.8 per cent and have your job-creation number at 114 thousand, at best, it’s interesting. At worst, yeah, it is suspicious,” Conway said. “And when you look at the timetable, the onus is on the Department of labour to explain it.”
U.S. Secretary of labour Hilda Solis addressed the scepticism in an appearance on CNBC this morning, calling it “ludicrous” and saying she has “the highest regard for our professionals that do the calculus.”
“It’s really ludicrous to hear that kind of statement,” she said. “We have to look at across the board, not just one month.”
There have been comprehensive accounts on the measures of separation between the Bureau of labour and the White House. But The Washington Examiner’s Conn Carroll had a different theory: Democrats are now lying about their employment status.
Of course, this goes against the common sensical thinking that unemployed people are probably not too happy with the president. Unsurprisingly, a recent Beyond.com survey found that unemployed Americans prefer a Romney presidency by a 50-44 margin. The employed choose Obama by a 7-point margin.
But the theory has now been embraced by both elected officials like West and conservative pundits like Laura Ingraham, who tweeted Welch’s sentiments:
Both the Republican National Committee and Romney campaign have strayed away from the theory. Via The Hill’s Christian Heinze, Romney economic adviser Andrew Puzder told CNBC that he doesn’t think the campaign will embrace it. Indeed, Romney’s statement focuses on the negatives in the jobs report.
“This is not what a real recovery looks like,” Romney said. “We created fewer jobs in September than in August, and fewer jobs in August than in July, and we’ve lost over 600,000 manufacturing jobs since President Obama took office. If not for all the people who have simply dropped out of the labour force, the real unemployment rate would be closer to 11 per cent.”
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