A group of Republicans are cooking up legislation that could give President Barack Obama an unintentional assist with disagreeable unemployment numbers — by eliminating the key economic statistic altogether.
The bill, introduced…by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), would bar the U.S. Census Bureau from conducting nearly all surveys except for a decennial population count. Such a step that would end the government’s ability to provide reliable estimates of the employment rate. Indeed, the government would not be able to produce any of the major economic indices that move markets every month, said multiple statistics experts, who were aghast at the proposal.
“They simply wouldn’t exist. We won’t have an unemployment rate,” said Ken Prewitt, the former director of the U.S. Census who is now a professor of public affairs at Columbia University.
“I don’t know how the market reacts if there is suddenly no unemployment rate at the start of the month,” Prewitt said. “How does the market react if we don’t have a GDP?…”
The proposed Census Reform Act is explicit in its intent to end nearly every survey the Census conducts, mandating the “repeal” of the nation’s agricultural census, economic census, government census and mid-decade census. It would also bar the bureau from carrying out the American Community Survey (ACS), which the House voted last year to end, although the Senate let that measure die.
There is very little done by the government or big businesses that does not at some level depend on the reams of information provided by the Census surveys, from writing regulations and distributing federal services to rolling out new products and finding customers. The ACS is an ongoing survey that collects data every month, instead of every 10 years, so that governments and businesses have current information.
The primary motivation for the bill appears to be striking down the ACS, which Duncan spokesman Allen Klump said had been the subject of numerous constituent complaints as overly intrusive.
“It’s so unimaginable. It would be like saying we don’t need policemen anymore, we don’t need firemen anymore,” said Prewitt. “To say suddenly we don’t need statistical information about the American economy, or American society, or American demography, or American trade, or whatever — it’s an Alice in Wonderland moment…”
Maybe the subsidized tobacco farmers in the Confederate states are hiding so much money in hedge funds they’re afraid the IRS will find out and Gummint might take the subsidies away?
Maurine Haver of Haver Analytics said she understands that a certain segment of American society distrusts the government and thinks the Census Bureau gathers data as some sort of prelude to dictatorship. But she noted that the information gathered is often anything but helpful to authorities…
Haver also suggested there is a fundamental divide between people who are interested in solid, reality-based data and those who are not.
“If you know what you think, you don’t need information to help you assess what’s going on,” she said. “The people that need information are the people who use it because they really want the truth, not people who think that because they believe it, it becomes the truth.”
Every now and then we need to be reminded there are some truly ignorant people elected to Congress – by other truly ignorant people, I guess.
I was nudged this morning while watching David Kotok having a conversation with Tom Keene on Bloomberg TV. Yeah, a TV program about economics, finance and investing. They were discussing the Fed and GDP, potential rate of recovery for the US economy in light of Congress dragging their feet, when Kotok suffered a small brain explosion over these idiots.
Like how could you possibly have a rational discussion about economics with no data?