Issa: The way it is being done with the constant revisions, significant revisions, tells us that it is not as exact science as it needs to be and there’s got to be a better way to get those numbers or don’t put them out if they’re going to be wrong by as much as half a point.David Dayen, who predicted on Friday that Issa would investigate the BLS numbers, points out that Issa's committee already investigated the BLS's methods last summer. That effort seemed mostly aimed at tearing down the idea of "green jobs."
Fox: Now, Greta [van Susteren] asked him when he wants to have these hearings…and he said, that, “we very much intend to work every day through November and December to get these kind of things done. We’re hoping that this is a good nonpartisan time,” he said.
Anybody who takes the time to read BLS methodology, including all the caveats the bureau's statisticians attach to their numbers, already knows that there is at least as much art as science involved in determining on a monthly basis how many jobs are lost or gained. But in a world like Issa's, where revisions are seen as egregious errors instead of the incorporation of new and better information, there has to be something amiss and that something must be political manipulation.
The statisticians themselves point out, though few in the media or elsewhere seem to listen, that the monthly numbers have a margin of error of 100,000. In other words, those 114,000 jobs BLS said were created in September could be anywhere 14,000 to 214,000. That's not because the books are doctored. The system is transparent to anyone willing to take the time to look beyond the surface numbers.
As Larry Mishel at the liberal Economic Policy Institute puts it in a fine piece exploring the nuances of the two surveys that go into making up each month's job report (and the reasons for the divergences between them):
This controversy is not funny at all. BLS career staff has been inundated with calls from people attacking them, the predictable consequence of these conspiracy charges. BLS staff should not be facing this type of harassment. This whole episode makes me angry—at the disrespect for facts and the professionals at BLS—and it also makes me sad about the state of discourse in our nation.Issa says he hasn't decided what to do yet. So many possible investigations, so little time. But when you're Darrell Issa, you've got a mission—attracting media to focus on anydamnthing that could hurt the Obama administration. If he sees the possibility of achieving that, the BLS probe is probably a go. Getting at the truth doesn't really matter in such investigations. What counts is innuendo and insinuation. Opt for those often enough, Issa knows, and you can make yourself as influential as Rush Limbaugh.