Like Bush, Obama Moves to Bury Bad Economic Data

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Like Bush, Obama Moves to Bury Bad Economic Data

The Bush administration had a nasty penchant for trying to bury bad economic news - a nasty penchant that I was intimately familiar with when working on the House Appropriations Committee. One of the most egregious examples of this came in 2003. Here's the Washington Post on 1/2/03:

U.S. Drops Report On Mass Layoffs; Data Helped States Track Patterns of Industrial Demise

By Kirstin Downey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 2, 2003

Citing a shortage of money, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will stop publishing information about factory closings across the country, a decision that some state officials and labor leaders are protesting.

The monthly Labor Department analysis, known as the Mass Layoffs Statistics report, detailed where workplaces with more than 50 employees closed and what kinds of workers were affected.

Luckily, because of progressive pressure and public outcry, this Bush move was overturned by Congress. But now, the same kind of thing is back. According to today's Washington Post, it looks like the Obama administration is reprising the same scheme:

Obama administration plans to close International Labor Comparisons office

By Alec MacGillis
Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Like a scorekeeper for the world, a tiny unit within the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks globalization's winners and losers, and the results are not always pretty for the United States. Manufacturing jobs here, for example, have fallen faster since 1979 than in Canada, Germany or Japan. Compensation for those jobs dropped here in 2008 but jumped in South Korea and Australia. Soon, however, Americans may be spared the demoralization in these numbers: The White House wants to shutter the unit that produces them.

In his State of the Union address, of course, Obama called for a massive expansion of the NAFTA trade model into Colombia, South Korea and Panama. So you can bet this announcement by the White House is no accident - it's preemptive.

Apparently, no matter which party is in power, when bad news hits, the response is bury the news - don't address the actual problem.

David Sirota

David Sirota is a best-selling author whose new book "Back to Our Future" is now available. He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and is a contributing writer at Salon.com. E-mail him at ds@davidsirota.com, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at www.davidsirota.com.

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