Uncertainty hangs over the recovery this winter as economists try to tease out how much of the recent disappointing data is due to the unusually severe weather and how much is due to more worrisome weakness in the economy. To do this, they turn to government data — which now face uncertainty of their own.
Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, acknowledged the cloudy future of government-run statistical agencies on Tuesday, but he would make no promises about the defending the funding for economists who measure the nation’s economic health.
“There are certainly going to be difficult choices in the budget when it comes to statistics,” he said. “And there’s going to be difficult choices in just about every area of the budget.”
The White House is expected to release its budget for the 2015 fiscal year next week. On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Labor Department was considering cuts to a program that tracks export and import prices, which play an important role in calculating inflation and output.
Furman, speaking over breakfast at the National Association for Business Economics’ annual policy conference, said he agreed with his economist peers that funding statistical agencies is important. But he pointed to the obstacles for funding anything in the government: lingering spending restrictions that were part of the 2011 Budget Control Act and the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester, which were partially but not completely repealed.
Furman’s remarks came in response to an audience member who asked whether the White House would defend the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis from further funding cuts.
The question drew applause from the room of economists, who gathered to hear Furman describe the White House’s economic outlook and the president’s agenda. Furman said he did not disagree with the notion that protecting the data was important, even as he laid out the fiscal obstacles to doing so.
“We [at CEA] like to think of ourselves as focusing on the national interest and think economics is really a discipline that helps you train and think about that. We’re less responsive to this constituency or that constituency,” Furman said. “But to the degree we do have a constituency “¦ the one that’s closest to our heart is federal data and its importance.”
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Despite trailing Hillary Clinton by a significant margin, Bernie Sanders wasn't going the way of Ted Cruz tonight. The Vermont senator upset Clinton in Indiana, with MSNBC calling the race at 9pm. Sanders appears poised to win by a five- or six-point spread.
And just like that, it's over. Ted Cruz will suspend his presidential campaign after losing badly to Donald Trump in Indiana tonight. "While Cruz had always hedged when asked whether he would quit if he lost Indiana; his campaign had laid a huge bet on the state." John Kasich's campaign has pledged to carry on. “From the beginning, I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory,” said Cruz. “Tonight, I’m sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed."
The Republican establishment's last remaining hope—a contested convention this summer—may have just ended in Indiana, as Donald Trump won a decisive victory over Ted Cruz. Nothing Cruz seemed to have in his corner seemed to help—not a presumptive VP pick in Carly Fiorina, not a midwestern state where he's done well in the past, and not the state's legions of conservatives. Though Trump "won't secure the 1,237 delegates he needs to formally claim the nomination until June, his Indiana triumph makes it almost impossible to stop him. Following his decisive wins in New York and other East Coast states, the Indiana victory could put Trump within 200 delegates of the magic number he needs to clinch the nomination." Cruz, meanwhile, "now faces the agonizing choice of whether to remain in the race, with his attempt to force the party into a contested convention in tatters, or to bow out and cede the party nomination to his political nemesis." The Associated Press, which called the race at 7pm, predicts Trump will win at least 45 delegates.