Saturday, January 21, 2017

Ignoring facts for partisan gain

This time it's the Republicans who are distorting the facts. Perhaps to try to make President Obama's legacy look worse or at least give themselves a (possibly) better starting point.

Senator Ted Cruz has stated that rather than the official unemployment rate around 5%, there are 95 million unemployed. Rick Perry stated 90 million unemployed a couple years ago. Conservative news outlets (e.g. Breitbart) are harping on this number.

Now it's certainly true that the unemployment rate is a deceptive number. Democrats long argued the real rate was higher than the official rate (because of "discouraged workers") during Ronald Reagan's presidency. Discouraged workers or others who would like a job but aren't actively looking for one certainly imply the true unemployment rate is higher than the official number though it's hard to say by how much.

However, the 95 million number is complete hogwash. It includes all adults over age 16, meaning retired senior citizens, high school students, college students, stay at home parents, and as of yesterday even First Lady Melania Trump (I don't think "first lady" is a paid job and I'm sure she's supposed to disassociate herself from any businesses she has been involved in).

This number looks like something which will backfire on Republicans in not too long. After all, the Republicans are the "natural" home of those who feel that children should be raised in two parent households where one parent is home caring for the children. It's conservatives who complain that children of single parents (or households where both parents are working) are more likely to do poorly in school and life. Arguing that these stay at home parents are part of the "unemployed" implies that Republicans instead want them all working. Worse would be if Democrats use this number to start accusing Republicans of wanting to abolish retirement (and by extension Social Security), advocating that we should all work until we die.

So far I don't have a lot of confidence in the Republican establishment or Donald Trump, when they throw purely political numbers around of this sort.

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