December 7, 2012

Tracking The Unemployment Rate

Today the unemployment rate dipped to 7.7%, surprising people, modestly, with the slightly better than expected result.  There's danger for conservatives in tracking the unemployment rate too closely.  With such a high unemployment rate we expected Obama to lose the election - he didn't, defying the odds as far as unemployment is concerned.  

There other other reasons not to fixate on the unemployment rate.

Full disclosure: Throughout the first Obama term I focused on the unemployment rate.  That`s primarily because I was surprised by how bad it got.  It was Jimmy Carter bad. I was sure just as were so many other conservatives that Obama`s re-election chances were doomed because of it.  Wrong.  And shockingly, the conclusions based on it were myopic.

There are other reasons not to follow the rate so closely.  Firstly, a lot of conservatives are convinced it`s subject to manipulation at worst by a liberal-leaning bureau or deliberate misinterpretation by a left-leaning punditocracy.  If that is true, then conservative response is subject to significant misdirection at the whims of the left.  

Consider the unemployment rate leading up to the election falling conveniently in time to help the president and his case that his policies were finally working.  We doubted it but the message sunk through with enough people to matter.  Or the rate simply did not matter to enough key people.

With that in mind we in jeopardy of making the same mistake again.  Coming into January the rate dropping re-enforces the Obama meme that his policies are working.  That is, until the fiscal cliff hits and Obama can pin the sudden manipulated spike in the unemployment rate on Republican obstructionism.  If the rate has been cooked, it has to be reset to reality at some point.  A perfect point is one that it can be pinned on the GOP.  Like the January unemployment rate in February.

Maybe it is time we conservatives stop fixating on the rate and let Obama do the same - for our own good.  He is using political jiujitsu on Republicans and they never seem to see it coming.

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