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Head of Federal Agency Responsible for Wildly Inaccurate Jobs Numbers Is Trump Holdover

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Asked if He Will Resign, the Commissioner – a Former Heritage Foundation Fellow – Does Not Answer

Some areas of the U.S. federal government are sacrosanct.

The CDC doesn’t screw around with reporting COVID information, because millions of people, including scientists, make life or death decisions based on those data.

The Labor Dept. doesn’t tweak jobs numbers for political purposes, or to make a president look good or bad, because to report inaccurate results leads to tremendous distrust of the government, messes up markets, and plans of major corporations.

And yet under President Donald Trump the Health and Human Services Dept. altered CDC documents – once considered sacrosanct documents – for political purposes, CNN reported last year.

“Amid tension between the administration and the CDC, former Trump campaign official turned chief HHS spokesman Michael Caputo and his team had demanded to see reports out of the CDC before they are released, a senior administration official said. Officials within HHS had defended the demand, saying the CDC fell under the agency’s umbrella and that all communications and public documents needed to be cleared at the top.”

A federal official told CNN that in addition to reviewing reports, HHS political appointee Paul Alexander has regularly added his input — often interpreted by CDC officials as political in nature — to weekly scientific reports intended to track the ongoing coronavirus pandemic response. The development marks the latest example of political interference by administration appointees at the nation’s health agencies.

So when The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the federal government “sharply underestimated job gains for most of 2021, including four months this summer in which it missed more job growth than at any other time on record,” some expressed concern.

“In the most recent four months with revisions, June through September, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported it underestimated job growth by a cumulative 626,000 jobs — that’s the largest underestimate of any other comparable period, going back to 1979. If those revisions were themselves a jobs report, they’d be an absolute blockbuster,” the Post noted.

They add, “recent revisions have been big enough to turn a substantial slump into a surprising surge.”

Americans, in other words, have been living under the false belief that the labor market wasn’t exactly hopping, thanks to wildly inaccurate numbers out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the agency under the Dept. of Labor that collects, tracks, and analyzes these critical numbers.

Yes, under President Joe Biden the labor market has been surging, we now know, contrary to the information that’s been coming out of the BLS.

Curiously, as the Post also noted, the exact opposite happened last year, when Donald Trump was president.

“Revisions in the already calamitous months of March and April 2020,” under Trump, “found the economy had lost 922,000 more jobs than initially reported.”

Oops.

Given what we know happened at CDC, you’d think some might be wondering what’s going on.

Well, we are.

As it turns out, William Beach – the head of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the agency that since the start of the pandemic has been churning out wildly inaccurate (but very pro-Trump) numbers – was appointed by Donald Trump, used to work for a very pro-Trump think tank known as the Heritage Foundation, worked for a university research center that is funded by the very pro-Trump Charles Koch (as in the Koch Bros.), and also used to work for the Republicans on the the Senate Budget Committee.

(And while it’s unclear when Beach left Heritage, it’s important to know that right wing think tank is a purveyor of climate change denialism, fake critical race theory and voter fraud claims, and voter suppression legislation.)

So, who cares if the labor numbers are wrong?

Well, everyone, when they read headlines calling Biden’s jobs numbers a “colossal miss,” “ugly,” “dismal” and “disappointing,” as The Post noted. Companies make major decisions based on these numbers, which everyone realizes are just estimates, but up until last year were good indicators of what is going on.

Under Beach, the Biden administration has been slammed, giving Republicans a false tool to attack. And like bad newspaper articles that appear on page one and linger in Americans’ minds for days, corrections only appear on the back pages, invisible to the vast majority of people who only remember what was false.

An important side note: the Bureau of Labor Statistics is also responsible for reporting out the Consumer Price Index, which in recent days has claimed massive price increases.

NCRM emailed Commissioner Beach on Wednesday, asking if he intended to resign, and asking him to explain what caused these massive errors and if that has been fixed.

We also asked if he maintains any professional, personal, or financial ties to The Heritage Foundation, Senate Republicans or any of his previous right wing employers.

Commissioner Beach did not respond, but Bureau of Labor Statistics Deputy Commissioner William J. Wiatrowski did – with a boilerplate explanation of revisions, and a statement assuring us that the “integrity of BLS data collection and reporting is paramount. The BLS commissioner, as has always been the case, does not see data until they are finalized. Civil servant economists and statisticians tabulate and analyze the data.”

No word on any resignation – or if this massive problem has been fixed.

There’s no evidence to say these massive screw ups are intentional – or worse, politically motivated – but the American public and American businesses deserve better, they deserve factual data they can count on, and they deserve to know what’s actually happening on their President’s watch – any president.

If that cannot happen under this commissioner, it’s time for a new one.

Image by jaimebisbal via Flickr and a CC license

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COMMENTARY

FDR, JFK, and LBJ: White House (Finally) Takes (Cautious) Victory Lap on Biden’s (Huge) Successes

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The White House is coming off a year of approval rating declines, thanks in large part to Republican obstruction and attacks, but President Joe Biden, Democrats, and the nation now have a lot to celebrate.

“We now have a presidency where the president has delivered the largest economic recovery plan since Roosevelt, the largest infrastructure plan since Eisenhower, the most judges confirmed since Kennedy, the second largest health care bill since Johnson and the largest climate change bill in history,” White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, not known for bragging, told Politico’s Ryan Lizza. “The first time we’ve done gun control since President Clinton was here, the first time ever an African American woman has been put on the U.S. Supreme Court.”

“I think it’s a record to take to the American people,” Klain added.

Lizza and Eugene Daniels of Politico’s Playbook note, “At the start of the summer, this conversation would have been vastly different. Now, gas prices have dropped, and the last CPI report hints that inflation may finally be trending down after hitting a peak. Election forecasters are writing pieces at least entertaining the idea that Democrats might not suffer the long-predicted midterm wipeout. And there’s that burst of legislative victories that were squeezed out of Congress in July and August that had Biden, a lover of alliteration, calling this period ‘a season of substance.’”

The Guardian’s Martin Pengelly observes, “Klain’s references to historical figures chimes with Biden’s own interests. The president has regularly consulted historians, among them Doris Kearns Goodwin, Michael Beschloss and Eddie Glaude Jr, while Jon Meacham, a biographer of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson and George HW Bush, has been a close adviser in shaping Biden’s effort to restore ‘the soul of the nation’ after the presidency of Donald Trump.”

Pengelly adds: “Democrats control Congress by narrow margins. Opposition parties commonly do well in the first elections of a presidential term, and Republicans remain favoured to take control of one or both chambers. But legislative successes, most recently the passage of a major domestic and climate crisis spending plan, the Inflation Reduction Act, have given Democrats hope.”

With just 80 days to Election Day – less, if you include early voting – FiveThirtyEight put the likelihood of Democrats retaining their Senate majority at 63 in 100 chances, but give Republicans 78 in 100 chances of taking over the House.

You can hear Chief of Staff Ron Klain on Politico’s podcast here.

 

Image: Official White House Photo by Erin Scott via Flickr and a CC license

 

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COMMENTARY

Morning Joe Reveals ‘Disturbing’ Talk With ‘Washington Fixture’ Who Wants to ‘Destroy Our Country’ to Save Trump

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MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough revealed a pair of “disturbing” phone calls he had this week with a friend and family member calling for the destruction of the U.S. government as investigators move closer to Donald Trump.

The FBI search of Mar-A-Lago has spooked the former president and enraged his supporters — which Trump has tried to use as leverage to reduce the heat on himself — and the “Morning Joe” host said that included some previously “boring” moderates who were now willing to destroy the constitutional republic rather than hold Trump accountable.

“If people want to understand the depths to which this anti-American sentiment is running in the Republican Party, I had two conversations yesterday,” Scarborough said. “One with a family member and one with a Washington fixture, since the days of Ronald Reagan. Both were talking about how the FBI was the gestapo and they needed to be stamped out, spoke of revolution, and the Washington fixture, a guy who I always considered to be a mainstream conservative, a guy who, in the past at least, expressed concerns about some of Donald Trump’s extremities, said to me, ‘Joe, we can replace the U.S. government.”

“It’s not about the government, it’s about an individual,” he added. “Here’s a guy that said we can throw away Madisonian democracy, we can throw away the Bill of Rights, we can throw away the Constitution. We can just get rid of a government that has fed and feeds more people, that’s liberated more people throughout history, that’s keeping the flames of freedom alive right now in Ukraine and in Central Europe, than any other country on the planet, and we can replace the U.S. government. That is the depths to which this cancer has spread among mainstream Republicans, and Liz Cheney is right. These people are angry, and they want to destroy our country — the country where we have democratic elections and the winners who get the most votes are recognized as the winners, and the losers concede to those winners, and Donald Trump has changed all of that now.”

READ MORE: ‘Oh my lord!’ CNN legal analyst astounded by ‘all the crimes’ Trump and his lawyers could be charged with

Cheney, who until last year was the third-ranking Republican in the U.S. House and had one of the most conservative ratings in Congress, lost her GOP primary to pro-Trump candidate Harriet Hageman after voting to impeach the former president and serving on the Jan. 6 Committee investigating his attempt to overturn his 2020 election loss.

“Well, the hatred and the animosity spewed towards [president] Joe Biden from these people I spoke to yesterday, said — they said, he’s a moderate — like boring guy from Delaware,” Scarborough said of his friend. “Like, he used do do this to [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez], you used to do this to [Sen.] Bernie Sanders and used to do this to [House speaker] Nancy Pelosi, and now Joe Biden is the radical who is destroying them?”

“It’s just, it’s nonsense,” Scarborough added. “The problem is, it’s dangerous nonsense when they start talking about the FBI being the gestapo and how the FBI needed to be defunded and how the FBI needs to be wiped out, and how we can replace the U.S. government. That’s treasonous talk. Five years ago, that would be considered treasonous talk.”

Watch the video below or at this link.

 

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COMMENTARY

Trump’s Weaponization of DOJ Notice to Pick Up His Passports Negates Claim He Will ‘Do Whatever’ to Tamp Down Anger

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One week after the FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago mansion Donald Trump on Monday made what appear to be false allegations against the FBI, claiming the Bureau “stole” his passports in “an assault on a political opponent.” That same day he gave an interview to Fox News repeatedly mentioning the “anger” he says stretches across the country over federal agents’ execution of a lawful search warrant and confiscation of 20 cartons of materials that include highly-classified documents, while wrapping that in an offer to “do whatever” to help.

Monday evening Politico reported that FBI agents had taken Trump’s passports – swept them up unintentionally. The passports were found by a “filter team” that goes through everything that was confiscated to ensure items like privileged attorney-client communications are not assessed or included as part of their investigation.

The FBI notified Trump’s attorneys they had the passports, telling them they could pick them up.

RELATED: Rumors Swirl as ‘Flight Risk’ Trump Claims FBI Took His ‘Three Passports’ – He Can Still ‘Ask for Asylum’

“So Trump team now publicizing this email,” from the Dept. of Justice, Politico’s Kyle Cheney reports, “which shows: 1) DOJ obtained three passports (two expired, not one, as Trump said) and alerted Trump lawyers 2) They were recovered by a filter team, which weeds out privileged info. 3) Trump publicized this after DOJ offered them back.”

“Wow!” Trump declared on his Truth Social social media platform, after DOJ notified his lawyers and told them to pick up the passports. “In the raid by the FBI of Mar-a-Lago, they stole my three Passports (one expired), along with everything else. This is an assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country. Third World!”

Meanwhile, on Monday in an exclusive Fox News interview, which appeared to be more a transcription of a statement into interview form with no questions asked and no pushback offered, Trump said he was willing to “do whatever” to help tamp down the anger across the country, anger he and his allies have been fueling.

The Dept. of Justice did not publicize the raid on Mar-a-Lago to the press, Trump did. FBI agents did not even wear the usual blue and yellow outerwear and shirts that say “FBI” when executing the search warrant, and we now know they called ahead to notify Secret Service they were coming.

READ MORE: Does Trump Still Have Classified Docs? DOJ May Think So After Asking Judge to Keep Affidavit Sealed Former Fed Says

“Former President Trump said he ‘will do whatever’ he can ‘to help the country,’” Fox News said in its interview Monday, “after the FBI’s raid of his Mar-a-Lago home last week, telling Fox News Digital that the ‘temperature has to be brought down,’ while stressing that the American people are ‘not going to stand for another scam.’”

“The country is in a very dangerous position,” Trump told Fox News. “There is tremendous anger, like I’ve never seen before, over all of the scams, and this new one—years of scams and witch hunts, and now this.”

“There has never been a time like this where law enforcement has been used to break into the house of a former president of the United States, and there is tremendous anger in the country—at a level that has never been seen before, other than during very perilous times.”

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Trump repeated. “It is a very dangerous time for our country.”

Fox News also reported that “Trump said he had his representatives reach out to the Justice Department to offer to help amid outrage over the FBI’s unprecedented raid on his private residence last week,” and he “told Fox News that his team ‘has not heard yet’ from the Justice Department on whether they will accept his offer for help.”

“People are so angry at what is taking place,” Trump added again. “Whatever we can do to help—because the temperature has to be brought down in the country. If it isn’t, terrible things are going to happen.”

Peter Strzok, former Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, notes: “And it all resolves in a nothingburger. Small interesting note, the DOJ email confirms an expected filter team: that filter agents – not the investigative team – seized the passports. More proof FBI/DOJ are taking extra care to avoid privileged material.”

If Trump were interested in doing “whatever” he can do “to help the country,” why falsely claim the FBI “stole my three Passports” and call it an “assault on a political opponent at a level never seen before in our Country”?

Civil rights attorney Sherrilyn Ifill answers that question.

“So while saying that the ‘temperature needs to be lowered,’ Trump was elevating the temperature by accusing the DOJ on social media of ‘stealing’ his passports, when in fact DOJ lawyers are the ones who alerted Trump that they had the passports & had already returned them,” Ifill wrote on Twitter. “Awful,” she added.

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