Fuzzy math returns

After backing away from an adamant claim of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the Bush administration appears to be going down its list of claims and retracting them. On Wednesday, President Bush and his advisors backed away from its position that 2.6 million new jobs would be created in 2004.

Projections are mere estimates based upon collected data, and at times, these forecasts falter. However, the atrocious manner in which the Bush administration is handling unsuccessful projections and a cloudy economic portrait is unsettling.

Commerce Secretary Donald Evans said, “My crystal ball is not any clearer than anybody else’s.” Unfortunately for Evans, it is in his job description to have a clearer crystal ball.

Of all the predictions and views on the economic condition of the nation, the projections from those making national policy are expected to have the most accurate outlook on the state of the economy.

CNN reported that since the beginning of the Bush presidency, there has been a loss of 2.2 million jobs, so the 2.6 million jobs created in 2004 was rather ambitious. This projection sounds even more ambitious when it is taken into consideration that only 360,000 jobs have been created in the United States since August of 2003.

Considering this, it is rather inane for government officials to completely distance themselves from their failures without justification and acknowledgment of some reasoning for the flawed assumptions.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that Bush’s plan estimated that the United States would average 132.7 million jobs per month during 2004, but the U.S. job market held only 130.2 million jobs at the beginning of January. And by falling short of the projected January addition of 150,000 jobs, the U.S. economy would have to add approximately 460,000 jobs per month to meet the estimated average.

With the president’s increasingly poor job record, a string of poor comments from the administration is not improving the looming uneasiness over a weakened job market and unsteady economy.

White House economist N. Gregory Mankiw had the audacity to say “outsourcing” U.S. jobs to India and elsewhere “is probably a plus for the economy in the long run.” He said the costs for consumers and companies would be reduced by the “outsourcing”; however, he failed to mention how the millions of unemployed consumers would be able to afford the reduced costs.

Beyond Mankiw’s comments, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, “The president has said he is not a statistician. He is most concerned about whether people are hurting and able to find jobs.” Ultimately, the president is not expected to be a statistician, but he is expected to create sound policy based upon evidence he receives. And if this policy must be changed, the president is expected to inform the American people of the reasons without giving empty rhetoric or worse – silence.

Bush’s only solid statement about the economy and the failure of the administrations job creation projections for 2004 was, “I think the economy is growing. And I think it’s going to get stronger.”

However, the U.S. people demand and deserve certainty – not more baseless assumptions that keep the nation holding on to a teetering job market.

Jason E. Hutchins for the editorial board.