What’s Going to Happen to the Nation’s Economic Data?

With statistical agencies under budget pressure, a White House adviser makes no promises to defend funding for the economists who measure America’s economy.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 13: Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, testifies on the current economic outlook during a hearing of the Joint Economic Committee on November 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. Furman stressed that the economic recovery is strong despite the manufactured crises in Congress, but that it is too soon to say whether the brinksmanship of the government shutdown will have drastic consequences.
National Journal
Catherine Hollander
Add to Briefcase
Catherine Hollander
Feb. 25, 2014, 7:03 a.m.

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.”

What We're Following See More »
THROUGH AN INTERMEDIARY
Manafort Offered Russian Billionaire Briefings During Campaign
27 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the discussions. Paul Manafort made the offer in an email to an overseas intermediary, asking that a message be sent to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past, these people said. 'If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,' Manafort wrote in the July 7, 2016, email.

Source:
RAISE LATER THIS YEAR POSSIBLE
Interest Rates Don’t Change
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Federal Reserve left its benchmark interest rate unchanged and said Wednesday that it would begin to withdraw some of the trillions of dollars that it invested in the American economy after the 2008 financial crisis. The widely expected announcement reflected the Fed’s confidence in continued economic growth...most Fed officials predicted in a new round of economic forecasts that the Fed would increase rates later this year."

Source:
INCLUDES COMEY FIRING
Mueller Looking For White House Docs
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Special Counsel Robert Mueller "has asked the White House for documents about some of President Trump’s most scrutinized actions since taking office, including the firing of his national security adviser and F.B.I. director...Mueller is also interested in an Oval Office meeting Mr. Trump had with Russian officials in which he said the dismissal of the F.B.I. director had relieved 'great pressure' on him."

Source:
BUT WILL MCCAIN VOTE YES?
Graham-Cassidy to Get a Floor Vote Next Week
3 hours ago
THE LATEST
3.5M PEOPLE
All of Puerto Rico Without Power
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Hurricane Maria has knocked out power to the entire island of Puerto Rico, home to 3.5m residents, emergency officials have said."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login