Statistics or Politics?


Don't know about you, but I've always found the biz-econ columnist James Surowiecki to be a pretty straight shooter. So when he accuses the Bush Administration of politicizing economics statistics to a degree unprecedented in recent history, I worry. Excerpt:

Statistical expediency and fiscal obfuscation have become hallmarks of this White House. In the past three years, the Bush Administration has had the Bureau of Labor Statistics stop reporting mass layoffs. It shortened the traditional span of budget projections from ten years to five, which allowed it to hide the long-term costs of its tax cuts. It commissioned a report on the aging of the baby boomers, then quashed it because it projected deficits as far as the eye could see. The Administration declined to offer cost estimates or to budget money for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. A recent report from the White House's Council of Economic Advisers included an unaccountably optimistic job-growth forecast, evidently guided by the Administration's desire to claim that it will have created jobs. And a few weeks ago the Treasury Department put civil servants to work?at Tom DeLay's request?evaluating a tax proposal identical to John Kerry's, then issued a press release saying that the proposal would raise taxes on "hardworking individuals."

Whole thing here.