07.19.2012 1

Can we count on Barack Obama’s labor data?

NRD Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared at Investor’s Business Daily.

Erica GroshenBy Bill Wilson — Five months ago Barack Obama nominated union backer, liberal economist and Federal Reserve bureaucrat Erica Groshen to lead the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) — the agency best known for calculating the nation’s unemployment rate each month.  Obviously Groshen’s nomination was yet another sop to organized labor — which doled out big dollars and major manpower to help elect Obama in 2008 (and which has already been rewarded handsomely for its efforts).

It was also yet another endorsement of the failed Keynesian interventionism that Obama has continued to foist on our private sector ever since he was elected — with disastrous consequences for our nation’s economy.

But this particular appointment represents much more than just another lifetime left winger being tapped by Obama to fill a lofty taxpayer-funded perch.  For starters, Groshen’s background is more explicitly linked to overt anti-American ideologies than any Obama appointee since his infamous “green jobs czar” Van Jones.

Such radical ideological moorings are cause for real concern given that Groshen is being asked to preside over an agency where the inviolability of hard, methodologically obtained data — not the specter of ideological influence — is vital to maintaining institutional neutrality and credibility.

In fact public confidence in BLS methodology and impartiality is much more essential than that — as this agency’s unemployment and job growth data consistently drive global financial markets and move public opinion like no other economic indicators.

Moreover Groshen is being asked to lead this agency at a time when its data is being compared and contrasted not only with more credible alternative measures of labor utilization but also prior unemployment promises from the Obama administration.

Every statistic counts — but we also must be able to count on the veracity of every statistic (particularly those that come stamped with the imprimatur of officialdom).

In other words, this is the absolute worst possible time to nominate a BLS commissioner with suspect associations — one who could easily be perceived as giving an unfair advantage to certain constituencies regarding the release of this information (or possibly even manipulating the presentation of the data itself to paint a more flattering view of the administration’s job creation efforts).

One of the most glaring ideological markers in Groshen’s background is her choice to send at least one of her children to Camp Kinderland — a communist-founded institution that used Soviet symbols and sang Soviet anthems during the mid-20th century while urging its members to “vote communist.”

Camp Kinderland’s own website brags that it, “is true to the vision of its founders,” so it is no surprise that its leftist advocacy continues to this day.  The Camp mobilized dozens of campers, staff and alumni to participate in the Occupy Wall Street events — which their newsletter referred to as an opportunity for its supporters to “raise their voices and declare the power of the 99 percent.”

Of course when it comes to regulating business Groshen has no interest in helping the little man, ironically.  She’s overtly hostile to small businesses and believes that the jobs they create are inferior to those created by large corporations.

“It is clear that something that is good for workers … is happening in large firms,” a 1998 paper coauthored by Groshen concludes. “From this perspective, any public policy advantage awarded to small firms (such as labor or environmental standard exemptions) should provide cause for worry.”

Groshen’s preferred method of alleviating this “worry?” Heavier regulation of small businesses — which is one of the very last things our economy needs right now.

Why? Because despite Obama’s unprecedented interventionism America’s real unemployment rate is currently hovering at 11 percent (assuming a constant labor participation rate over the last four years).  That’s considerably higher than the “official” 8.2 percent rate reported by the BLS (which doesn’t count the millions of people who have given up looking for work over the last three-and-a-half years).  It’s also twice the 5.6 percent rate that Obama’s economists projected for this point in time when they were clamoring for passage of the “stimulus” bill in February 2009.

Statistics matter — and right now the BLS needs to cling to every bit of its credibility when it releases them. Confirming Erica Groshen would be a sure-fire way to substantially erode the public’s confidence that the data released by the Agency are not ideologically skewed.  The Senate should reject Groshen’s nomination and call on Obama to submit a choice more compatible with the objective role of this agency.

Bill Wilson is the president of Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Bill on Twitter at @BillWilsonALG.

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