Jack Welch defended his assertion that the Bureau of Labor Statistics was engaged in a vast conspiracy to inflate jobs numbers before the election, during an appearance on MSNBC Friday. However, he admitted he had only a hunch to support his claim.
“I have no evidence of corruption, none whatsoever” he told a combative Chris Matthews on Hardball.
Nonetheless: “Jack Welch is raising the question,” Welch said.
The BLS, which employs over 2,000 people, has not been run by an Obama appointee during the president’s entire term and the White House only receives its jobs reports the day before the numbers are announced. Mainstream economists poured cold water on the conspiracy theory, dismissed by the White House as “utter nonsense,” noting that fluctuations in the BLS household survey of the type seen in Friday’s report were hardly uncommon.
Pressed by Matthews about why he tweeted earlier in the day that “these Chicago guys will do anything … can’t debate so they change the numbers” without anything solid to back up his claim, Welch stood by his assertion.
“I don’t want to take back one word in that tweet,” he said.
Welch acknowledged that BLS estimates were an imperfect science, but pointed to Obama’s use of the jobs report on the campaign trail as a worrying sign.
“I know that these numbers are gathered by a series of wild assumptions,” he said. “Maybe they weren’t right at 8.5 percent maybe they weren’t right at 8.4 percent, but it seems coincidental that one month before the election they would end up at 7.8 [percent].”
His conclusion: “The numbers don’t jive!”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.