Monday, July 18, 2011

Economic Stupidity at Work

Teabaggers in Congress are hard at work saving you money:
WASHINGTON -- If you think Congress doesn't understand the economy now, wait till you see what a key House panel wants to do to the people who help figure it out.

Lawmakers are taking on the budget for the Census Bureau, pushing cuts that could leave economists and businesses in the dark about key economic information even as they are trying to map a path through a treacherous, uncertain economy.

The House Appropriations Committee is set to put the final touches on a funding bill Wednesday that proposes to slash the government's data collection arm by 25 percent -- a cut that economists and statistics experts say could end up costing taxpayers and businesses billions.

"It's essentially turning out the lights as economic policymakers are trying to do their work," said Andrew Reamer, a George Washington University professor who focuses on economics and U.S. competitiveness.

The bill is the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations measure for 2012, and the cuts in question target the Commerce Department's Census Bureau -- recently one of the bogeymen of the right. The cuts would take effect in October, leaving the bureau little time even to plan to mitigate the impacts.

And those impacts would be many. The Census Bureau declined to comment, but a member of Congress was willing to pass along the agency's estimate of what the cuts could mean.

"It would have major, permanent impacts on the nation's economic and demographic statistics," the bureau said, according to Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), a member and past chair of the House Joint Economic Committee.

"It leaves me rather speechless, actually," said Maurine Haver, the head of the National Association of Business Economists' statistics committee. "I just don't understand it."

Experts on the Census said there are several programs the bureau runs that could be affected by the proposed cuts. One is the $124 million Economic Census, which serves as the benchmark for the nation's fiscal reports, including evaluations of the Gross Domestic Product, jobs data and economic activity across industries.

"The Economic Census is the foundation for the country's most important measures of our economy," Maloney said. "A cut to the Census Bureau of this magnitude will undermine the confidence in our fundamental economic statistics, like the GDP..."
Read the entire article here.

One wonders what the strategy is, if any. All indications are that businesses are significant users of census data. Republicans usually want to undercut the weakest and most vulnerable in society, not business. One could argue that teabagger members of the House are so determined to cut spending, and show their constituents what a fine job they're doing, that they will attack whatever low-hanging fruit they can find. Many freshmen Republicans, the ones put into office by teabaggers, don't actually believe in government anyway.

The cynic in me says conservatives politicians want to hide America's deteriorating socio-economic demographic data from voters, the public, and the world, not unlike the way other countries do it, such as China. Researchers can bang Republicans over the head with empirical reality, sometimes known as facts, but it's harder if you can deny them some of that data in the first place. It is no coincidence that conservatives are the most vociferous opponents of the Freedom of Information Act.

Meanwhile, have you seen the new Fox News Logo?

The irony is that Fox viewers are far less likely to understand the joke precisely because they watch Fox News.

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