Last week, the Census Bureau released statistics showing that for the first time in years, poverty had increased for three straight years, while the number of Americans without health care increased to a record level.1 But instead of changing its economic and health care policies, the Bush administration today is announcing plans to change the way the statistics are compiled. The move is just the latest in a series of actions by the White House to doctor or eliminate longstanding and nonpartisan economic data collection methods.
In a Bush administration press release yesterday, the Census Bureau said next week it “will announce a new economic indicator” as “an additional tool to better understand” the economy. The change in statistics is being directed by Bush political appointees and comes just 60 days from the election. It will be the first modification of Census data in 40 years.2
This is not the first time the White House has tried to doctor or manipulate economic data that exposed President Bush’s failed policies. In the face of serious job losses last year, the Associated Press reported “the Bush administration has dropped the government’s monthly report on mass layoffs, which also had been eliminated when President Bush’s father was in office.”3 Similarly, Business Week reported that the White House this year “unilaterally changed the start date of the last recession to benefit Bush’s reelection bid.” For almost 75 years, the start and end dates of recessions have been set by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a private nonpartisan research group. But the Bush administration decided to toss aside the NBER, and simply declare that the recession started under President Clinton.4