Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics publicized the September unemployment numbers. The Bureau reported that unemployment had fallen below 8% for the first time since January 2009. For all accounts, this was stellar news for the country. And, with the report showing that the number of discouraged workers, or those no longer looking for work, had dropped by almost 23% when compared to the prior year, many believed this report would signal a turning of the corner for the American worker. But, from this promising data, a conspiracy arose. GOP leaders and commentators took to Twitter to rebuff the validity of the 0.2% drop from August.
Retired CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, attributed the unemployment numbers to President Obama’s poor performance in the debate the night before. He linked the two in an effort to hold the President culpable for the reduction in unemployment rates as opposed to any real change. Rep. Allen West (R – FL, 22nd District), maybe best known for accusing House Democrats of being “Communists,” agreed with Welch asserting “Chicago style politics” as the real cause of the report. Even the extremely popular Republican pundit and news man Joe “Morning Joe” Scarborough tweeted that the numbers didn’t “make sense.”
The interesting thing about this conspiracy is that Reps have been holding this “8%” number over President Obama’s head for months now. It dates back to a January 2009 report depicting a projection of the unemployment rate after the stimulus was approved. So, to be clear, the President or his surrogates never actually said that the unemployment rate would remain under 8%; they projected that the stimulus would cause the unemployment rate to cap out at approximately 8%.
Nonetheless, President Obama’s failure to reach said cap for over 40 months has been a sticking point for Gov. Mitt Romney, Republican presidential candidate. But, this new report did almost nothing to change the rhetoric around unemployment. Gov. Romney implied that these were not the “real unemployment numbers” in a stump speech on Friday. And, House Leader John Boehner said even 7.8% is “too high,” which totally discounted the accomplishment for the American worker.
So, the real question is: which is it? Is President Obama in hot water because he isn’t meeting his alleged campaign promises? Or, is he just making the numbers up? It seems a bit of a stretch that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis would compromise an entire civil service organization to make President Obama look good after a debate. And, she found the comments insulting as well. Exactly what would the President have to gain from selfishly manipulating unemployment numbers?
Overall, this smells like pure conspiracy, but let’s go with it for a moment. Let’s say President Obama has some secret “Chicago-style” mob deal going on with Labor Sec. Solis. He bribes her, or coaxes her, to “cook the books.” Then, she offers him a 0.2% drop from the prior month. And boom! He wins the election? That could be a potential outcome.
But, here’s the issue. The Bureau doesn’t actually calculate the employment statistics. They only report them. Therefore, they really have no bearing on what the numbers say. I guess the other option is a lot of poor people knew that President Obama would need a bump after the debate so they lied about finding jobs to artificially improve the unemployment numbers…In all, the logic does not hold. And, it has been dismissed by most clear thinking reporters and voters. The only issue with this type of conspiracy theory-ing is there’s never a way to know how far it goes or how deeply it reaches. Hopefully, the oxygen let out of this fire before it caught everything else around it in flames.